The Martian landscape has some new protectors.
Conservation biologists from the International Association of Land Trusts (IALT) have laid claim to large sections of the red planet’s surface and underlying mineral deposits. Their goal is to protect the most sensitive regions of Mars before humans colonize it.
As the US and other nations develop new missions to Mars for exploration and to establish new national territories, the conservation group has raced to the head of the pack.
“Imagine if we had been able to identify and protect the most precious regions of Earth before human population expansion overwhelmed the landscape,” notes Carlos Saggan, the project’s leader.
The land trusts have purchased the last remaining Titan II missile from the US Department of Defense, which has been housed in a silo at a museum in the Arizona desert since the destruction of the nuclear arsenal. The group is refurbishing the rocket as a manned vehicle scheduled to reach Mars by 2020, “or sooner if we can work out the warp drive,” said mission technical advisor, Zefram Cochrane.
Their goal is to reach the planet before other government or private expeditions can get there. They will survey the surface and establish privately held preserves, marked with special flags.
Interplanetary conservationists from IALT admit that life has yet to be documented on Mars, but Saggan points out that “you can’t be too cautious with life on another planet, probably.”
The group is also pushing for better standards of inter-planetary hygiene to avoid transferring destructive biota between the new worlds that humans visit. According to Saggan, “It just seems like a good idea to wash your proverbial hands after using the bathroom of Earth.” These “best bio-practices” are already in draft form and language has been recommended for international space treaties.
After Mars the group will look to Mercury because real estate prices are a lot cheaper there.
Other Earth-bound conservationists are concerned the project will divert limited financial resources and attention from badly needed land protections on the planet we already occupy. Which seems kind of obvious.
Happy April Fool’s Day!