A combo photo of Martin Rees (left) and Elon Musk.
Astrophysicist Martin Rees has branded entrepreneur Elon Musk’s plans to send humans to Mars a "dangerous delusion" during this year’s World Government Summit.
Rees - who has been the UK’s Astronomer Royal since 1995 and holds fellowships of several prestigious societies - said that housing populations in "glass domes" on the Red Planet would be comparable to living in hostile environments like the South Pole or Mount Everest.
Speaking alongside astrophysicist Neil Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson at a WGS Dialogues panel on the global space race, the renowned scientist played down suggestions that humans could live on Mars long-term- in sharp contrast to SpaceX CEO Musk’s predictions that a million people will soon live on the Red Planet.
Martin said: "The only reason for humans to go to space would be for adventure. To live on Mars is not going to be easy. Mars has a hostile environment.
"So, the idea of Elon Musk to have a million people settle on Mars is a dangerous delusion. Living on Mars is no better than living on the South Pole or the tip of Mount Everest."
Dr. Tyson added: "To ship a billion people to another planet to help them survive a catastrophe on earth seems unrealistic. If you want to call Mars home, you need to terraform Mars, turn it into Earth. It is so much easier to make Earth return to Earth again rather than terraforming Mars.
"There is no force on Earth as potent as the exploration of space that impacts our thoughts and ambitions. Thinking about the future is half of what drives the future. Space will always remain as an inspiration for young people and it is an area we need to support.
"The next generation has a broader view of the world. They think globally and have embraced technology like never before. I cannot wait for them to take over the Earth and fix the problems of this world. The edge of the Earth is space and with resources available and the spirit adventure, I have high hopes of all that the next generation will bring us."
It comes after the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe last month successfully entered orbit around the Red Planet and beamed its first surface-level images back to scientists on Earth.
The mission will spend two years revealing new information about Mars’ weather, atmosphere and changing seasons, positioning the UAE as the fifth country in the world to reach the seventh-largest planet in the solar system.
During the same World Government Summit panel, Dr. Tyson - who is best known for his space-focused books and television appearances - remarked that inter-planetary exploration is essential since the solar system is the "world’s backyard".
He said: "Space is for everyone and the Solar System is the world’s backyard. So, it’s great to see that collaborations are becoming important in space exploration and countries are coming together to share knowledge and resources."
The World Government Summit - held annually in Dubai - explores the agenda of the next generation of governments, focusing on harnessing innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.
Multi-billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk on Sunday took to the Twitter to describe his relationship with Mars by calling the red planet his souldog.
On Friday, the rocket company SpaceX tweeted that the vehicle made its first close approach with Mars, coming within five million miles of it.
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