A human-manned mission to Mars has been the aspiration of many scientists since the 19th century. Now, plans set out proposals to evetually settle on and colonise the planet, thereby utilising its moons – Phobos and Deimos. However, one of the biggest issues NASA has faced over the years has been cost.
It is estimated the price of sending humans to Mars would be around £385billion, with fuel taking up a large chunk of that.
Scientists would need to plan two to three years in advance of the mission just to make it there, let alone back.
However, computer scientist Erika Debenedictis may have come up with a simple solution, it was revealed during a TED Talks podcast.
She said in 2013: “Somewhere in between Mars and Jupiter is the asteroid belt.
NASA has long been interested in colonising Mars (Image: GETTY)
NASA has spent millions researching the mission (Image: GETTY)
“We know the orbit of a lot of asteroids in this belt.
“There are big gaps in the asteroid distribution where there are no asteroids.
“If you look at those gaps, if there was an asteroid there, it would go around the sun once every four Earth years.”
Ms Debenedictis revealed why Jupiter could prove vital in the plan.
She added: “Jupiter orbits the sun once every 12 years – meaning they would be in sync.
Erika Debenedictis has a new theory (Image: TED)
“Each one of these gaps – they are called Kirkwood gaps – are caused by the resonance between the asteroid and the orbit of a heavy planet.
“There are many asteroids that are way heavier than anything we are thinking of sending into space and they are non-propelled.
“Yet, Jupiter is able to move them around with its gravity.
“You can use the gravity of planets to manipulate the orbits of objects.”
However, Ms Debenedictis did admit there was a big issue with her idea.
Jupiter could hold the key (Image: GETTY)
She detailed: ”The catch is, it takes ages.
“In Lower Earth orbit to Lunar it will save you 20 per cent fuel but will take 200 days instead of four or five.
“In Low Earth Orbit to High Earth Orbit, it will save you nearly 90 per cent but will take 3.5 years instead of four days.
“But that does not mean the paths are useless and we can still solve our fuel issue.”
The California Institute of Technology graduate revealed her masterplan to get humans on Mars within five years.
The breadcrumb theory is much cheaper (Image: TED)
She continued: “The problem is we are using fuel to transport fuel.
“So instead, we should use these really slow but very fuel efficient paths to transport our fuel.
“So before we launch out humans, we should launch booster packs into space, positioning them along the path we are going to take to Mars like breadcrumbs.
“Then five years later, we launch our humans, blast through, pick up the boosters and enjoy the benefits without huge costs.”
The claim comes just a day after the European Space Agency (ESA) revealed it had s once flowed on the Red Planet.
The find is said to be the