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Scientist explores possibility of putting people on Mars by 2030s




 Mars' own Grand Canyon, Valles Marineris, is shown on the surface of the planet in this composite image made aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft.
Mars' own Grand Canyon, Valles Marineris, is shown on the surface of the planet in this composite image made aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft.
Handout/Getty Images

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Humanity has long contemplated the idea of colonizing Mars, and modern technological and engineering advances are getting us closer and closer to realizing that dream.

But could it be as close as 20 years away?

In an op-ed President Obama wrote for CNN this week, he talks about his continuing sense of wonder about space exploration and his goal for humanity to send some of its own to the red planet by the 2030s. He says that the U.S. government is working with private partners to develop the equipment and technology that would be needed to keep people alive on the nearly yearlong journey to Mars.

Are the President’s ambitious realistic or is he shooting for the stars? What would it take for humanity to be prepared to send humans to colonize Mars? Who are the major players?

Guest: 

David Reitzel, Ph.D., astronomical lecturer at Griffith Observatory; he tweets @DavidReitzel