NASA has reached significant milestones for the past 40 years when it comes to its exploration of Planet Mars. The space agency has successfully sent probes and landers that covered the initial phase of knowing more about Earth’s neighbor.

And though the agency still has so much to learn about the planet’s origins and to determine if life can survive on the Red Planet, experts agree that we are now ready for the next phase of the mission: Sending humans to Mars.

The experts, composed of an international panel of scientists and astronauts who will meet this month in Brisbane, Australia to discuss the challenges of space travel, believe that it’s no longer a matter of if humans can reach Mars but when.

According to Cosmos Magazine, scientists and astronauts believe that the hindrances of reaching the Red Planet are slowly being addressed. Various rovers and landers have expanded our understanding of life on the planet's surface and that scientists and astronauts are learning to shake off the gravitational hold of Earth. The last part is important as it prepares space agencies like NASA for further space exploration.

“There is one reason, and to my mind one reason alone, to take the risk of sending humans to Mars, and that is the search for evidence that life may have once formed there in ancient times,” Andy Thomas, the first Australian astronaut in space, said. He also reiterated humans have the natural inclination to explore and reaching the Red Planet is just one of the many space missions that humans will achieve.

“The discovery that life had also started on a second planet in our early solar system would be a crowning achievement of human intellectual inquiry. It would give us, for the first time, an honest assessment of our place in the universe. It would profoundly and constructively impact our society, our philosophy and our religions. I can think of a few discoveries more important to us all,” he said.

Space scientists are already preparing for the possible conditions upon reaching the Red Planet by simulating these conditions on Earth. It should also be noted that experts have already come up with life-saving tools to survive on Mars.

Yvonne Cagle, an American physician and astronaut who works for NASA, said they have come up with a fully self-contained closed-loop regenerative life support system for space exploration and planetary habitation. The tool is capable of preserving the human muscle and bone and is radio-protective.

Cagle said that the level of detail in preparing for the conditions that humans will face in Mars is staggering and described the space development as one of the most interesting scientific developments today.

“Quantum mechanics and the phenomenon of ‘entanglements’ that exhibits how atoms and particles separated at a great distance can influence each other. Quantum theory, as such, has the additional potential to generate countless advances across multiple industries from medicine and more precise magnetic resonance imaging, to communications and more secure encoding, to transportation, including space and a more precise GPS,” she said.

NASA is expected to bring the first humans to Mars by the year 2030.