Design Museum, London
This fascinating show offers close encounters with an actual Mars rover, footage from the planet’s surface – and ambitious plans for inhabiting it, should the need arise…
On the surface of Mars, temperatures average about -60C. The thin atmosphere, containing almost no oxygen, is unbreathable. Intense solar radiation, were you to survive the cold and asphyxiation, would be lethal. It would take seven months and billions of pounds to get there. Growing enough food on the red planet to live off would be, to put it mildly, difficult, so you’d have to bring it with you.
All of which makes the idea, once expressed by Stephen Hawking and now Elon Musk, that humanity might look to Mars as a planet B if things get really bad here terrifying. It implies that conditions on Earth would actually have to be worse than that unappealing Martian atmospheric cocktail. In which situation only an elite handful would make the escape, a handful that would include (in the imagination, one suspects, of Elon Musk) people very like Elon Musk.