Read the story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Universe Today (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:

Forget About Mars, When Will Humans be Flying to Saturn?

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

It might be hard to fathom now, but the human exploration of the solar system isn’t going to stop at the Moon and Mars. Eventually, our descendants will spread throughout the solar system – for those interested in space exploration, the question is only of when rather than if. Answering that question is the focus of a new paper released on arXiv by a group of researchers from the US, China, and the Netherlands. Their approach is highly theoretical, but it is likely more accurate than previous estimates, and it gives a reasonable idea of when we could expect to see humans in the outer solar system. The latest they think we could reach the Saturnian system is 2153.

How to even start such a calculation is complicated, so it’s best to start at the basics, which in this case involves a bit of calculus. To understand when humans will reach further out in the solar system, the authors needed two variables – distance and time. In this case, distance is defined as the distance from Earth that humans have traveled, and time is defined as having started at the beginning of the Space Race in 1957 when no human had yet left Earth.

UT video discussing human vs robotic exploration.

Another critical data point is when humans made it to the Moon in 1969. At a distance of .0026 AU, it wasn’t very far into the solar system but was a start. The next step in exploration is still speculative at this point, but the authors set up two different scenarios for when humanity will reach Mars. Given the launch windows, they estimate that the first humans will realistically set foot on the Red Planet in 2038, which is when NASA’s Artemis program is planning for. But they also recognize that, given the history of delays in the human space exploration program of late, it could be as late as 2048. Using this separate starting point, they develop a “delayed” timeline of the rest of the exploration steps, and, as it is exponential, it has a correspondingly big impact on the dates of other milestones.

Reaching Mars certainly isn’t the only factor impacting the exploration of the rest of the solar system. The authors use two other variables – NASA’s budget and the level of space exploration technologies.

Using NASA’s budget might seem relatively biased, as the agency only represents one country, even if that country does have the world’s most extensive space program. However, it can act as a proxy for space exploration funding more generally, though the private sector has been gaining more attention recently. There is undoubtedly debate within the space community about whether the first person on Mars will even be from a governmental agency. Either way, using NASA’s budget as a variable in the equation unlocks a relatively simple linear relationship between time and a non-inflation-adjusted budget.  

Technological advancement is harder to quantify, but the authors use a model of the number of papers published in a given year that mention deep space exploration as a proxy for the level of technology necessary to complete those missions. The relationship they found for that metric of the number of papers over time is exponential, reaching a high of almost 2,000 papers per year recently.

Exponential graph of the distances from Earth of human exploration.
Credit – Rosen et al.

This combination of linear and exponential relationships results in an equation that can be solved by plugging in the data points for distance and time of the beginning of the space race, the first crewed landing on the Moon, and the (still hypothetical) first crewed landing on Mars. From that model, dates of milestones begin to tumble out. Humanity could reach the Asteroid Belt in 2073, Jupiter’s system in 2103, and finally Saturn as early as 2132. As discussed above, there are some significant potential differences based on the uncertainty of the planned Mars landing. Still, the general trend is one of exponential exploration, as long as we continue with our current level of technological progress and budgetary levels. That would be music to any space fan’s ears.

Learn More:
Rosen et al. – Impact of Economic Constraints on the Projected Timeframe for Human-Crewed Deep Space Exploration
UT – The Value of Space Exploration
UT – Artemis 1 Probably won’t Launch Until August

Lead Image:
Image of Saturn taken by Cassini
Credit – NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

The post Forget About Mars, When Will Humans be Flying to Saturn? appeared first on Universe Today.


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 866-388-7003 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 866-388-7003 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

HNEX HydroNano EXtracellular Water - Improve immune system health and reduce inflammation.

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)

Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen!

Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.

Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%! (See Video).

Report abuse


    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    Load more ...




    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.