September 29, 2015 4:59 PM EDT

Mars is the solar system’s it planet, what with breakthrough reports of Martian water and a blockbuster movie about a Red Planet castaway soon to hit theaters. But Mars is hard—really, really hard. And while sending humans there is not just a grand dream but an achievable one, we shouldn’t kid ourselves about just how deadly a place it could be. Here are a few of the things that make living on—and merely getting to—Mars so risky.

Write to Jeffrey Kluger at

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