Sorry, Elon Musk. Bill Nye says the idea of Mars colonization and terraforming – making a planet more Earth-like by modifying its atmosphere – is “science fiction.”
“This whole idea of terraforming Mars, as respectful as I can be, are you guys high?” Nye said in an interview with USA TODAY. “We can’t even take care of this planet where we live, and we’re perfectly suited for it, let alone another planet.”
As for living on Mars permanently: Sorry, Nye says that’s not happening either. “People disagree with me on this, and the reason they disagree is because they’re wrong,” he quipped.
The famous science educator and CEO of The Planetary Society appears on National Geographic Channel’s series “MARS.” While the series explores human beings living on the Red Planet and even mining it, that doesn’t mean Nye buys into the idea.
For starters, he points to Antarctica, where scientists are stationed even during the harsh winter months but no one lives permanently. “Nobody goes to Antarctica to raise a family. You don’t go there and build a park, there’s just no such thing.”
“Nobody’s gonna go settle on Mars to raise a family and have generations of Martians,” Nye said. “It’s not reasonable because it’s so cold. And there is hardly any water. There’s absolutely no food, and the big thing, I just remind these guys, there’s nothing to breathe.”
Plus living in a dome, then putting on a spacesuit to go outside will get tiring – fast.
“When you leave your dome, you’re gonna put on another dome, and I think that will get old pretty quick,” he said. “Especially the smell in the spacesuit – all the Febreze you can pack, I think it will really help you up there.”
But Nye is still in favor of astronauts traveling to the Red Planet.
“I want to find evidence of life on another world in my lifetime, so Mars in the next logical place to look,” he said. “People say what are you gonna find there? We don’t know, and that’s why we go and explore the unknown horizon.”
The reason the Red Planet captivates us so much is because it’s like Earth in a variety of ways, Nye said. While it’s quite a bit smaller and has lower gravity, it also has ice caps, seasons and days just like here on Earth.
“You can see it in the night sky, it’s romantic. You want to say, ‘Lets just drive over there, take a trip, have a look around,’ ” he said.
But sending astronauts has a very practical purpose: What our best rovers on the planet can do in a week, a human can do in about 5 minutes, Nye said.
“We would send people there to make discoveries. To explore, that’s the big idea,” he said. “So when we go to Mars, you don’t know what you’re gonna find, it’ll be new. I guarantee it will be amazing.”
Particularly amazing would be to find life on the Red Planet.