Why we shouldn't wait to go to Mars
Robert Zubrin, chief of The Mars Society, says the Red Planet has everything needed to support life and technological civilization.
April 23rd, 2012
11:32 AM ET

Why we shouldn't wait to go to Mars

Editor's note: Robert Zubrin, an astronautical engineer, is president of The Mars Society and author of “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must,” recently updated and republished by Simon & Schuster.

In the opinion piece “Mars can wait. Oceans can’t,” published recently on CNN.com, Amitai Etzioni says that we should defer Mars exploration because the seas have a higher priority. While I have the highest regard for ocean exploration, the fact of the matter is that there are numerous agencies – including the U.S. Navy, the navies of other countries, academic institutions, research organizations, corporations and James Cameron personally – that are more than adequately financed and equipped to carry it out.

The idea that we need to suspend space exploration in order to provide the necessary resources to probe the oceans is categorically absurd. So let’s call it like it is: The argument that we should explore the oceans instead of space is not a call to search the seas, but simply a disingenuous way to give up our effort to reach the Red Planet.

But why should we try? There are three reasons.

Reason # 1: For the knowledge. We now know that Mars once possessed oceans in which life could have developed from chemistry. But did it? If we could discover fossils on the Martian surface, or extant life surviving in subsurface water today, it would show that the origin of life is not unique to the Earth, and thus by implication reveal a universe that is filled with life and probably intelligence as well. From the point of view of humanity learning its true place in the universe, this would be the most important scientific enlightenment since Copernicus.

Robotic probes can help out in such a search – and should be aggressively pursued – but by themselves are completely insufficient. Fossil hunting requires the ability to travel long distances through unimproved terrain, to climb steep slopes, to do heavy work and delicate work, and to exercise very subtle forms of perception and on-the-spot intuition. Astrobiological investigations require the ability to drill, sample, culture and study life drawn from Martian groundwater. All of these skills are far beyond the abilities of robotic rovers. Field paleontology and astrobiology require human explorers, real live scientists on the scene.

Reason # 2: For the challenge. Nations, like people, thrive on challenge and decay without it. The space program itself needs challenge. Consider: Between 1961 and 1973, under the impetus of the moon race, NASA produced a rate of technological innovation several orders of magnitude greater than that it has shown since, for an average budget in real dollars only about 10% more than today ($20 billion per year in 2012 dollars then, compared with $18 billion now). Why? Because it had a goal that made its reach exceed its grasp. It is not necessary to develop anything new if you are not doing anything new. The Apollo program also strongly stimulated the economy as a whole to rates of economic growth that have not been seen since.  Far from being a waste of money, forcing NASA to take on the challenge of Mars is the key to giving the nation a real technological return – and much needed economic stimulus – from its space dollar.

A humans-to-Mars program would also be an adventure challenge to every child in the country: “Learn your science, and you can become part of pioneering a new world.” In its day, the Apollo program caused a doubling of the number of American science and engineering graduates. That intellectual capital continues to benefit the nation. There will be more than 100 million kids in our nation's schools over the next 10 years. If a Mars program were to inspire just an extra 1% of them to scientific educations, the net result would be 1 million more scientists, engineers, inventors, medical researchers and doctors, making innovations that create new industries, finding new medical cures, strengthening national defense and increasing national income for decades to an extent that utterly dwarfs the expenditures of the Mars program.

Reason # 3: For the future: Mars is not just a scientific curiosity, it is a world with a surface area equal to all the continents of Earth combined, possessing all the elements that are needed to support not only life, but technological civilization. As hostile as it may seem, the only thing standing between Mars and habitability is the need to develop a certain amount of Red Planet know-how. This can and will be done by those who go there first to explore.

Mars is the New World.  Someday, millions of people will live there. What language will they speak? What values and traditions will they cherish, to spread from there as humanity continues to move out into the solar system and beyond? When they look back on our time, will any of our other actions compare in value to what we do today to bring their society into being?

Today, we have the opportunity to be the founders, the parents and shapers of a new and dynamic branch of the human family, and by so doing, put our stamp upon the future. It is a privilege not to be disdained lightly.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Robert Zubrin.

Post by:
Filed under: Commentary • Voices
soundoff (561 Responses)
  1. abraham

    why mars??....... WHEN WE CAN GO TO JUPITER'S MOON EUROPA THERE'S LIFE IN EUROPA THERE'S LIKE 80% CHANCES OF LIFE IN EUROPA ...........but mars IT'S AS COLD AS DRY ICE there's NOTHING in mars

    April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Thav

      You're talking about a difference of 6 months (to get to Mars) or 13 months to reach Jupiter. The psychological effect of space flight away from Earth would be bad for anyone, but 13 months just to reach the said destination would be to much for most people. Not to mention we know very little about Europa, but have visited mars via rover already.

      Also, traveling the shorter distance first (Mars) would be better prep for a longer journey (Jupiter). Once we have the knowledge of what to expect radiation-wise, then we can prepare accordingly.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
      • zamboro

        Thav, he's talking about sending a robot that can melt down through the ice and deposit an autonomous submarine in Europa's sub surface ocean. And yes we know more about Mars, all the better reason to go to Europa, to discover things we don't know about yet.

        April 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • lunchtimelonnie

      Europa on its surface is covered with at least a 20km thick sheet of ice and ranges in surface temp from -549 F to -234 F. you might want to pack a hat when you go, because that is much colder than dry ice, it's as cold as liquid nitrogen! Sure, something is happening under the ice, and it could be really exciting to find out what it is, but maybe we should conquer the challenges of dry ice mars before liquid nitrogen europa. The moon is cold, too, but we didn't do much there, certainly not drill a 20 km tunnel. With the ice cake and cold temps europa seems a big bite to chew on. Mars is a balmy -124 F to 68 F, which is much more feasible for dudes in suits doing work.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  2. Sradia

    For all of those "stay at home" people. know that there are those who realize the PROFITS of space exploration and they are willing to spend the $$$... because they realize that it is an INVESTMENT. You can not stop the craving many of us have to explore what God put before us. We will get there regardless of the costs and we will be the first to reap its benefits!! You are better of mocking those who crave warfare! I just don't understand why so many do not want a part of this legacy? Thank God someone had the courage to step out of the cave!!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • lucentsky

      An "investment"? Then when are we going to get a payoff for spending all that public money on getting to the moon?

      April 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
      • TB

        Lucentsky: if you put down your iphone and ipod for a little while, and do some serious research, you might find out how many new technologies we are using in the civliians and commercial sectors that were derived just from the Apollo program. (I'm not even talking about military technologies, because I'm sure you would sneer at it, I'm just talking civilian technologies).

        April 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
      • ...

        You already have. Or if you prefer to live in your own ignorance, then by all means, turn off your mobile phone, your wireless products, your computer, your satellite television, refuse to use half the equipment in the hospital when you need it, and get rid of half the components in your new car that contains unique compounds. Among other things, which you can visit NASA's website to research. Now turn it all back on, and thanks NASA's manned spaceflight program. You're welcome.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
      • Apollo

        It's an investment in the country not a stock dividend. It stimulates the economy, produces jobs, furthers education and more.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • TB

        http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135690/NASA_s_Apollo_technology_has_changed_history

        April 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
      • lucentsky

        Wait a minute ... that's not what an "investment" means. When I invest in something, it means I get partial ownership over the resulting profits. When Apple invests in technology, do you expect them to be content with no profit and phones they can play games on in their hands?

        April 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • JimiJons

        Are you serious? All modern computer technology spawned from the Apollo missions. The race to the moon drove the research behind integrated circuits, which are now found in virtually all modern electronic devices, including the car you drive to work, the shift manager you clock into when you get there, or the computer you use to finalize your quarterly earnings presentation. The NASA moon missions literally spawned a global technological revolution, worth TRILLIONS of dollars. There's your payoff, bud, and you'd better be thankful for it.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • TB

        Oh, now I understand. You're not looking for things that further our society and civilization as a whole. You just want somebody to hand you some CASH, right? Pathetic.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • lucentsky

        @JimiJons

        John, your technology history is a bit off there, but nonetheless you're missing the entire point. The point is one of ownership. We shouldn't call it an "investment" if we don't publically own the technology that public funding was used to develop. You or I don't directly profit from that technology. We might profit indirectly when we use it to develop a business model on, but it's not part of our "investment" in any sense.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • Ben

        Someone needs to learn who Neil DeGrasse Tyson is.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
      • ...

        So let me get this straight, lucent. If I "invest" in my child's future, I should be getting a ROI in the form of cash or cash equivalent, right? In that case, hey son, come over here and let me get some of that cash! NOT. I feel sad for you if you run your family like a corporation.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
      • jmsbois

        It is 'owned', in the form of open source technology that NASA research provides. Investment returns come in forms other than cash. Open your eyes, or turn off your computer and internet connection.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      • aronious

        @lucentsky

        You really need to research the word "investment" until you type something.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
      • abqtim

        If we use tax payer money we all own it!!!!!

        April 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
      • Guest

        You want payouts from space exploration? You shortsighted narrow-minded " it's the stupid economy" fool! our economey in the apollo program did wonders for both ecenomic and scientific and technological development of the Nation. Yet you are wondering if you could be make a million dollars off of a space program. They payouts is progress for the human race, not just a number you have in the stock market and bank account which is obviously the only thing you are concern with. However you are not alone, most of the world from the rich OPEC states the the banking firms of wall street like Merryl Lynch who have done nothing for this world but suck the world dry as the economey goes into poverty while those few get to retire with more luxery every day! Yeah, I might be sick of where this global economey is headed and I want out, but it is not without good reason.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
      • Reason

        Taxes off the sales of iPod's isn't a payoff? Technology isn't the only thing that came from NASA. NASA has contributed more to our way of live than all wars combined dollar wise and NASA gets the least amount of funding.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
      • cngoins

        Bravo sir, you have successfully stirred the pot. I applaud your efforts to incise debate and intelligent response. As for your apparent need to demand monetary compensation for the fruits of others labor, allow me to direct you to a direct benefit stemming from the Apollo program, http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/pdf/80660main_ApolloFS.pdf. If these technologies developed from the Apollo missions have ever impacted your pathetic, neanderthal-like existence, count yourself among the fortunate.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
      • anon

        There are so many things that cn trace their roots to the space program mainly in the communication program. it wasn't just walking on the moon but we had to deploy so much to get there. Satellites, Modern communication i.e. cellphones, smaller computers, GPS, all of them trace their roots through the space program. So many aspects of technology were used and improved or even invented just to get to the moon. Open a book or at least your browser and search it up.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
      • jlehane3

        http://s12.photobucket.com/albums/a221/jlehane3/?albumview=slideshow Here's 1000 reasons to go to Mars because Life is already there.People,animals,high tech.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • Harlin Hendricks

        For starters look at the computer you just typed on or the cell phone you use. Where do you think the technology came from?

        April 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
      • coldnate

        You guys are wasting your time with this idiot... This is why I believe there should be an IQ requirement to vote.

        July 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • ihaetcnn

      then you will always be in search of something you cannot touch – the universe, silly person, is, by all accounts, infinite. There's no refrigerator light that's suddenly going to turn-on when the moisture subsides – there wILL be more infiniteness, to which you will continue to seek, and you will be increasingly more and more without much of an answer to anything other than a gut-wrenching addiction to some curiosity you seem bent on exploring.

      Alcoholics, whether they know it or not -take this same journey into no-man's land every day. It's pretty pathetic, as is you assumption that something "good" aside from money for astronauts and researchers, will come of it; it will not.

      let's call it a "black hole" and leave it at that. you seek something that, in most people's minds, you will never reach.

      I note with intensity that all of the contributors appear to be less than thirty years old. With "big goofy ideas" like this, it all starts to make sense looking at you wide-eyed does.

      Where do you keep your sages – you know, the ones that actually know, (and not your smartphone announcer) about stuff ? \
      yup it's a glitzy spread, but so is dancing with the stars. take that to mars, please, if you ever get off of the ground.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • Klick

        Maybe the answer is simple, there is no answer.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
      • Sradia

        Man, I feel sorry for you! Do you live in a coffin? ... BTW we left the ground a long time ago baby!!

        April 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
      • SZF

        Actually ihaetcnn, to the best of our knowledge the universe ISN'T infinite – just mind bogglingly big.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
      • AlexK

        The universe is most definitely not infinite. When you look out at night you see mostly blackness with a few white dots that we know as stars.

        If the universe was truly infinite and there were an infinite number of stars when you looked out at the sky at night all you would see is white light.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
      • Ben R

        I had to reply to this post, even though I suspect I'm feeding trolls.

        I've got to ignore the ill-executed attempt to compare intellectual curiosity to alcoholism, since there isn't any real comparison between the two.

        I find it rather sad that you view both the thirst for knowledge and understanding, and the ability to dream as negative qualities. In all seriousness you have my pity, I can't imagine how sad the world looks to you.

        I for one, encourage my students, and every young person I have the privilege of influencing to dream big, and to trust that they can make what they want of their lives! Only big dreams change the world, even if there are people like yourself who will grumble and argue that it didn't need changing.

        The beauty of this universe and the reason that Mars is worthwhile is because dreams are worth chasing, and the benefits to all humankind are real. That ground has been covered by other replies, so I won't go there again.

        The knowledge that going to Mars could provide us could help us better understand ourselves and our universe, and any attempt to understand oneself and others is never wasted. People are so quick to judge and decry how low children have fallen, and how terrible they are.

        So why are we so willing to deny them the chance to understand themselves, each other, and us? Why are we so willing to deny them the chance to gain experiences and wisdom?

        You are welcome to come to a standstill and pine for "simpler times;" but there are those of us who actually matured and we understand that our job is to make progress. Move forward, run forward, fall forward... no matter how slow or ungraceful it may be at time.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
      • WASP

        @ihaetcnn: if you hate cnn then why are you on their site? next "their are no small dreams just small people" you are a small person standing in front of the largest dream humans have, to explore. small people like you have been step on and over throughtout history for the betterment of all humans. i believe in the human spirit to accomplish anything we set our collective minds to.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
      • Bob

        Few may get this but NO EDGE

        April 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
      • Gwenyth

        Actually to the one who made the "infinite star would make the whole sky white" argument, this is nullified by some really simple calculus and the red-shift. If the universe were infinite(not saying it is, it's quite unlikely), the wavelength of the light from the infinite number of stars an ever increasingly large distance away would asymptotically approach a limit. The sky wouldn't be all white, but rather all a very, very, very red-shifted light. Which actually happens to be true, we call it the Electromagnetic Background Radiation.

        There are a number of other possible theories that could describe the phenomena we observe, Occam's razor simply suggests that the current one is to be preferred(not that it is any more likely to be true, only that it is to be preferred as a model due to lower numbers of unknowns). That said, it would be wise to recall the epicycle debacle before stating the current perfectly functional predictive model as 'Truth'.

        That said, Yay Mars! And to the one who poo-poo'd exploration of space because it's infinite(or more likely mind bogglingly big), and therefor exploring it will never be 'done'... Well, why do anything at all ever? Why go on any adventure, why explore anthing? Why take any chances in life? Why learn nything at all, ever? I mean, all scientific exploration is, from a certain point of view, useless, because unless you are Isaac Newton you figure out pretty early that you are never going to turn that one corner and all the secrets of the universe will be revealed(Newton was a bit nutty).

        For those who's only possible concern is squeezing every drop of profit possible out of every possible endeavor...wow, I really feel bad for you. Your life sounds so empty.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:46 am |
      • Hominid

        Despite being commonplace in sci-fi movies, significant manned space travel is a physiological and physical impossibility. Continuing a committed program of space exploration, however, is essential for scientific, technological, and national defense reasons.

        April 25, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Brad

      I do radiation-induced cancer research for NASA so we can send people to Mars. This work directly applies to patients who receive radiation to treat cancer. For all those against the Mars mission, you are indirectly against finding a cure for cancer.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
      • Darth Cheney

        Hyperbole much? Or did you just forget that we could directly support cancer research?

        April 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      I fully disagree. First off, you need to leave your diety out of this. Blind devotion to skygods has put us back millenia in scientific advancement, so let's just move past that. Next, what investments are you referring to? We will learn how to package a person for several months and shoot them to a celestial body? Why do you think that we will learn considerably more by having Point B be the surface of Mars, as opposed to the surface of the moon? I agreed with the first article that we need to fully explore this planet, before heading off and trying to explore another one. There is plenty to discover under our oceans, and not on a hypothetical ocean floor 50+ million miles away.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
      • Mr Spock

        So, at what point have we "fully explore[d] this planet" to satisfy your lack of curiosity? I agree that there are plenty of discoveries to be made in our oceans, but that doesn't mean that is the only place worth looking. By your own logic, I can come back and say there are plenty of discoveries to be made in our atmosphere (or subduction zones, or *fill in the blank*), so we shouldn't explore our oceans yet. The string never ends, and so we will end up doing nothing.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
      • Mister Jones

        @Mr. Spock – Fully explored? Hmm. I guess I would say to fully utilize the available landmass, which would include the inhospitable areas like desert and arctic areas. Subterranean options, as well as below the ocean. As for attempting to put colonies in the atmosphere, this would be a great precursor to colonizing Venus, as we currently only expect hospitable conditions well above the surface of the planet. Sulphuric acid rain is a problem though ...

        My point with the ocean over Mars is that the ocean is more attainable with a higher benefit outlook in the near future. I am definitely not suggesting we never leave this planet, but I am one who doesn't believe we landed on the moon, so Mars is inconceivable. (Yes, cue Princess Bride). I would also expect that a considerable amount of the lessons we learn from colonizing the ocean could be easily transferred to colonizing another place with an inhospitable environment.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • m

      Let's first start by taking "gawd" out of the equation. That fantasy has nothing to do with exploration or even the creation of the universe.

      We should be going to Mars because it is economically and technically a good thing to do. It would bring job creation and technical innovation like we saw in the 1960's. It would mean new and more efficient manufacturing processes. Additionally research that could be done on the trip, on the planet and back can't be done on Earth.

      Shifting dollars from the military to NASA and private enterprise development would be major economic stimulant. Not only for the USA but the global economy. It would also bring social growth that is much needed and finally get mankind to quit acting like it is the only intelligent life in the universe (we aren't).

      At the same time, we could develop ases on the moon where manufacturing and raw materials can be used. It can also be a launching pad for Mars missions requiring less resources since there is not as much gravity and atmosphere to overcome. The future of this plant, of mankind is not on this planet.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • coldnate

      LOL "God". You're like a child who was never told that Santa Claus isn't real.

      July 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  3. David F Pawlowski

    Mars is D.O.A.. Mars is nothing more than a Fools Errand exercise in vanity akin to building the pyramids in Egypt. It makes NO sense in terms of economics for a nation 8 to 12 trillion dollars in debt that is running the printing presses. Unlike the moon that might have a future as a source of rare earth elements and Helium-3, something the Chinese and Russians understand very well, Mars has iron and probably some bacteria buried deep in its soil. Beyond that, nothing. We have plenty of iron without the huge expense of having to build a sustainable colony from scratch. Even Obama's asteroid mission makes more sense, because at least you could make the case that if we ever have to blow one from orbit, we'd have done it.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • KapnKhaos

      And you know all this how? Been there?

      April 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
      • Judge Dredd

        It's called research dumb dumb. Helium 3 is a known isotope that could make fusion power a reality. Think about it, cheap power.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Ray D

      I agree the Moon and Helium -3. make MUCH more semnsw a world where energy is cheap and safe.. The Chinese and the Russians are going there for it.. Spain and Portugal did NOT do well in their investments in the New World..

      April 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      First off, that is PRESIDENT Obama to you. Show some respect. Second, why do you profess to know the composition of Mars in comparison with the rich minerals and gasses of the moon? We don't know enough about either to make a statement that one is good for resources, yet the other is not. Third, do you know for sure why the pyramids were built? Or even how? I am pretty sure that is all conjecture at this point. /soapbox

      April 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
      • jimmydemello

        I would respect Obama if he was respectable.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Ben R

      Mars certainly does have it's uses; space for people being the major one, which I imagine will be a much more pressing concern in the next decade or two.

      But more than the direct value of Mars as a piece of land or source for raw materials, the development of new technologies for the numerous challenges Mars will face are going to be the real pay dirt. I believe that that was a major point of the Op piece as well.

      By reaching for Mars and taking on all of the challenges that will come along with it, we, and our children, could stand to benefit from technologies we may not even be able to imagine at this moment. And the author is right about inspiring children. We worry about falling behind in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-field-ready students, but we don't have any reason for them to aspire to STEM fields. Mars is a reason. It may be the best reason we have.

      Children don't care about "you could make more money in a STEM job" or 'you'll always be able to find a job." They dream big; bigger than those of us who "grew up," and they'll be the ones who either rise to the challenge, or wonder why we as a people, as a nation, didn't aspire to more.

      I am going to pull the nationalism card, and say that I think if we as a nation want to regain our place at the forefront of technological development, we must go to Mars.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      @Jimmy – Really? Because the man has the most important job on the PLANET. Are you confusing "respect" and "like"? Regardless, all men who have served that office are permanently Mr. President. I am glad you decide to utilize the freedoms that he stands for and represents, to insult him. One of those things that makes me proud to be an American.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Researcher

      "... Mars has iron and probably some bacteria buried deep in its soil. Beyond that, nothing."

      Bacteria found in Martian soil would be such a mind-blowing discovery for biology, it's hard to even imagine. Does it have DNA? RNA? When did it diverge from Earth bacteria, or is it totally different? What does it metabolize, what waste products does it generate? Bacteria would be enough of a discovery in their own right.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  4. ihaetcnn

    you, scientist, are playing with an odd idea, and seem to be obsessing with it.
    I see no point whatsoever, other than you probably need a job, and that's what you like to do – daydream in NASA.
    I assure you it is not a worthy political or practical solution to ANYTHING – other than a billion-mile long curiosity.
    let it go, dude – there's not much evidence that life, as in your skin or mine, will endure either a.) the trip to Mars, or b.) the planet's environement itself.

    In my own opinion, a scientist isn't much good if he or she cannot embrace the entire problem – if one even exists.
    Again, your happiness as a space engineer is none of my concern, and shouldn't be. It appears that this is an all-you and a few others and I simply cannot support engineers with such un-thought-through ideas.

    HOW will you get there ? Start with that, dude.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Craig

      He already does know HOW to get there. If you would have read at the top, you'd know he has written a book on the subject. Crawl out of your cave.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • jmsbois

      Thank you for assuring us that you know what is and is not worthwhile for us...dude.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Dan

      Interesting point of view but if a comet comes straight on for us, you'll be the first to want to a way out.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Schwarzfuss

      Like it or not combine the number of people already on this earth with the current birth and death rates and it works out that we need at least 1.5 earths to continue on our current path. That's the problem.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • certfiablynuts

      Too not explore our universe is a mistake. Studying history is a step towards error prevention and better understanding of the human race. Technology aside, we haven't changed that much. Logic is simple. You won't learn what you haven't tried or worked on. Logic is the key to education. I say if we can or can't yet, we must pursue and develop anything and everything to enhance the chances of the infinite survival of the human race. We lack true logic, as long as we keep feeding off each other and feel the need to be the controlling factor in order to survive and live a fulfilling Life. The more we learn, the more the human race can unite for a common cause. The closer we get to better living for all man kind. We must eliminate the need to want and earn a future for all to have and live together as earth people, educated, healthy and united towards better living for all. Lets get out there. We've always been explorers, Why stop now? We'll never know the whole truth . History and future exploration is all we have to go on.I want to be impressed by our human intellects. I want to know everything I don't know. Don't you?

      June 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  5. Muscles

    ....space exploration is useless other than it gives the really smart people something to do and a chance for them to come up with cool gadgets. What if there is life on Mars? so what. What if there is a million other planets just like this one where people are doing the same stuff we are? so what. You guys are planning your fantasy vacation home while your house is on fire.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • lucentsky

      The primary use in space exploration is to divert public funding into research and to concentrate wealth into private hands. In that respect, it's much like war. There's not much benefit for the majority of the public, but they must pay for it and they must be told it's crucial to win the race.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
      • Deez

        Wow, completely false. As much as I am against war, I can't ignore the technologies and advancements that come out of it for the common citizen. The benefits are the same for space exploration, except it is also a venture that doesn't involve killing people.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
      • Muscles

        Well I don't think it is really a method of social control rather than there is actually a lot of people out there that really want to explore space. I understand the desire, but again, I want to go to Russia and fish for salmon, but right now I got bills and stuff to worry about. We got bigger issues and yes our resources are limited so we can't do it all at once.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
      • lucentsky

        Any technological "benefit" comes because the funding is provided for research. The moon or Mars goal is simply there to convince the public to accept the amount of funding for the research. If we were using public funding democratically, there wouldn't be a need to sell a "mission to the moon to beat the Russians" story if the public actually wanted their money spent on such research.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
      • lucentsky

        It's also important to understand who benefits directly from such technology. You or I? Likely not. It's private concentrations of power who can take that technology and profit from it. It's like how tax payers funded the development of the computer and the internet because they were told they needed high military research funding to ward of the U.S.S.R., but the real beneficiaries for the research were those like Microsoft and Apple, who made trillions on taxpayer-funded inventions.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
      • ...

        lucent, just stop posting, and turn off your computer. Then hurl it out the nearest window. Clearly NASA's innovations don't exist in your world, thus you shouldn't indirectly acknowledge their benefits in reality. Well, in your case, it clearly isn't a benefit, since you're just showing us your ignorance.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • sefs

      Well, this planet has a finite lifespan. So unless life escapes it at some point, the existence of life on this planet was pointless.... It probably is pointless but we can hope to learn otherwise in the future...lets start by escaping from this prison of a planet where our legacy is surely doomed.......

      April 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
      • ron

        exactly.. some here can't see that or think that much out of the box. thats why he or she calls herself muscles and not brains lol..

        April 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • John-117

      I agree with you Muscles. Science is bogas! Who cares about major scientific discovery, when you have beer and video games!

      April 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • rickirs

      And you have just proven that there is no life on earth.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    What absurb arguments. 1. For "the knowledge"? Here's the answer...there's life outside of earth. There. Satisfied. 2. For the "challenge"? Don't you think we have enough "challenges" here already? 3. For "the Future"? I think most people would agree that all of our futures would be in better shape if we spent the trillions and trillions of dollars here on earth, versus blasting it off into outer space to send a couple of dozen people to Mars...to sit in a shelter...take a couple of walks...and take pictures of Earth. Yeah...don't ya think?

    April 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • GeoGuy

      In what peer reviewed paper was life on other planets confirmed?

      April 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
      • sefs

        Your sarcasm is noted but it sure seems likes the most likely scenario.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Rog

      Sure and why don't we just close down all universities and divert all of those funds to social programs because 'research' doesn't really do anything for the typical person anyhow. Education? Hey who needs it...apparently you don't.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Ben

      Clearly you don't look at the United States budget. If you did you'd know that Trillions and Trillions of $s are spent here on earth. And then you would also know that 1/2 of 1 cent of every dollar you are taxed pays for NASAs budget.

      That's $5 for every $1000 you're taxed. 1 value meal at McDonalds.

      And no matter how much we spend here on earth, it's all gone with one comet. The technologies we develop in going to Mars will help stop those comets.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      ". . . trillions and trillions of dollars . . . " First of all, allow me to point out how juvenile that sounds, repeated in such a way. Secondly, please get your facts from sources other than unresearched blogs. NASA's budget is about a half of a percent of the national budget, a mere pittance compared to the money we waste on many less worthy endeavors.

      Many small minds lacking in imagination are posting comments on this article. Here is one reason the author didn't mention: the desire to explore is in our nature, and Mars is the logical next place to go.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • ChicagoRich

      Well one could make the argument that if you want a path to sustainability on earth, all you have to do is to knock off about 5 or 6 billion people, and then all of the shortages go away for a while. I think it would be foolish not to attempt to expand our domain to our nearest neighbors in the cosmos, namely the moon and mars, but I do not think we currently have the know how to build a truly self sufficient colony off of the earth at this point in time. We need to get there, but we need to work on figuring out how to do that now and first.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Hominid

      Exactly right – the author exhibits profound ignorance of human physiology and physics and a childlike lack of logic is his essay. However, funding a vigorous, unmanned space program is essential for continued scientific, technological, and defense purposes.

      April 25, 2012 at 8:50 am |
      • jlehane3

        Zubrin is basically right that we should send humans to Mars.Rockets are not what UFO's use to get there in minutes.The effects on humans at that great speed is moot.Rockets are 1960's tech.It worked for the Moon in that day. Three day one way isn't going to kill you.The civilization already living on Mars,the natives are much like us.Establish the facts first.Google IMAGES "Jerry Lehane Mars" see http://www.photobucket.com slideshow acct# "jlehane3" over 1000 pics life on Mars,people,animals,fossils,high tech.They have anti-gravity tech on Mars.To me the MOON seems like a more dangerous place than Mars.John Lear says there's Life on Venus and this I cannot yet confirm or deny.I designed Mars rovers 1987. Jerry

        April 25, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  7. Jonathan

    The argument "We shouldn't go to Mars until we have taken care of our problems here on Earth" is such an outrageously flawed argument that the people making it should be ashamed to call themselves intelligent beings. How is this different from saying "We shouldn't fix our roads until there is global peace!" or "We shouldn't fix our health care system until we have eliminated hunger." It's not an either-or proposition. It's not like we only have ONE unit of value that we can only spend on one thing. We can do lots of things.
    Also, we are never going to fix everything here on Earth. Therefore, giving such an argument is the same as saying, "Let's never go to Mars, ever." If we shouldn't go to Mars til we fix everything on Earth, and we cannot fix everything on Earth, we should never go to Mars.
    This is America. We are not cowards, nor are we idiots. We are supposed to be the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth. We are supposed to be the home of the brave. We are the ones who went to the Moon. We are better than this. What kind of America do you people want to live in? The one that has colonized another world, or the one that stood by while someone ELSE colonized another world? Why has the American people, on both sides of the aisle, suddenly decided that we are incapable of doing anything? We are told we can't afford to fix poverty, we are told we cannot afford to take care of our sick, and now we are told that we can't afford to go to Mars. I reject it all. We can do anything we set our minds to.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • lucentsky

      Yes, I agree. Screw the poor. All we need to do is wrap ourselves around an American flag and fly to Mars on magic to start fixing the world.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • Jonathan

        I hope you are trolling, because you are otherwise presenting a perfect example of the outrageously flawed argument that I am deriding. No, not "screw the poor". And no, no Martian magic is going to fix the poor. Brace yourself, but we can actually DO MORE THAN ONE THING AT THE SAME TIME! I know, crazy, right? You can actually have a space program AND feed the poor! If you feel some sort of dizziness right now, don't panic, it's normal when your entire idea of reality was sent off-kilter like that.
        If you are a troll, then... well, needs more cowbell.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
      • lucentsky

        I've got news for you kid, there's not an unlimited number of resources on this planet. One of the main problems in this country is that wealth distribution is horrible, and a space program does nothing but worsen that problem by concentrating public funds into the hands of a few. Despite what they are trying to sell you, pay for a joy ride to Mars is unlikely to do any more good for humanity than flying to the moon did.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
      • padeye242

        Here you go: http://www.openculture.com/2012/04/neil_degrasse_tyson_space_exploration_is_good_for_culture.html if this doesn't awaken the pessimists then the hearts and souls of their youth have begun to stink, unless they've already calcified. We can afford it, we can afford lots of things. Why spend it all on gold teeth?

        April 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
      • Kurt

        By that logic, I'll bet you "screw the poor" every day. Do you own a pet? Ever by something you don't really need? Every time you do that, YOU screw the poor. Pet food? What about human food? Is the computer you used to type your message that much more important than providing a roof over the heads of a homeless family? What if, in the quest for Mars, we developed both a food source and cheap/natural housing?

        April 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • ...

        Yes, because I'm sure you would've had the brilliant idea to invent wireless technologies all on your own without NASA, which led to the creation of the tech industry and telecom industry, and thus how many jobs? If we didn't invest in NASA half a century ago we would all be using landlines and standard television. But no, I'm sure fewer jobs in the long-term is of no concern to you, as the only important person in your life is you, and the benefits for yourself. How about considering a better life for your posterity as a benefit too?

        April 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
      • avdin

        If it weren't for space flght:
        1. my cell phone wouldn't be stuck under my car seat because it wouldn't exist.
        2. I wouldn't constantly be hitting snooze on the alarm because my super comfortable memory foam mattress would not exist.
        3. my medical physics class would be that much simpler because of the advances we would have yet to make.
        4. I may very well have already visited the bottom of some super deep marine trench myself because the safety standards on my plane weren't quite as high.
        5. the fact that the zipper on my jack doesn't work would actually be annoying because Velcro wouldn't exist.
        The list goes on. If i'm not mistaken it is quite possible that the invention of velcro alone would have paid for all of space exploration to date. Probably several times over. What an economic boost, eh? and thats just ONE of the things i listed above. I haven't even really mentioned all of the advances in cancer and bone density research that have resulted from "just exploring." I'm sure there are countless other things that I am forgetting or simply ignorant of myself.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Guest

      How about the fact that Mars is millions of miles away and there isnt anything we Immediately need from there right now
      Or that if we perfect the technology for exploration here on earth that when we do go to mars we will not only be better equipped and trained to do it,but it will cost a fraction of what it will today.
      There is no point in colonizing space until we have better technology and can more efficiently use our resources when we get there.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
      • Jonathan

        By that argument, we shouldn't have gone to the moon, because our technology is better now.
        Also, by that argument, no one should have come to the Americas, because no one had invented modern ships in the 15th century. Heck, no one should have left the caves, because the cavemen didn't have Reeboks on their feet.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
      • Zach

        I half agree with you Guest, and half with you Jonathon. If renewable energy were fought for here on earth as hard as the race to the 'red planet' I think we would be in great shape all around. Space race and some renewable energy down here.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Muscles

      are you a big Startrek fan? ....Be honest.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
      • tlocken

        So many hater out their say we can't, we can't, we can't that is your 1st problem, Two going to mars is the next step in helping save the planet. Just as the article said There will be more than 100 million kids in our nation's schools over the next 10 years. If a Mars program were to inspire just an extra 1% of them to scientific educations, the net result would be 1 million more scientists, engineers, inventors, medical researchers and doctors, making innovations that create new industries, finding new medical cures, strengthening national defense and increasing national income for decades to an extent that utterly dwarfs the expenditures of the Mars program. That alone make it worth it or do you want to live in a world that does not inspire. If you are happy sitting in your shanty watching tv and being below average intelligence then go ahead. The rest of us smart people understand that to explore is the only way to save not only the earth but the little natural resources we have left. Just like our ancestors set off across a vast and wide ocean, which many thought was flat so must we look to the stars. From mars we could mine the asteroids which could provide us with enough wealth to pay off any cost we incur in the process. Who says that it should just be us, if we split the cost with the rest of the world then it would be cheaper right? Right simple idea as for getting there cheaply we could use nuclear power it has been used for years in our Navy and it works quite well It is cheaper than using what we use now. Plus Nasa at one time actually designed a working atomic powered space craft. It is not as hard as you may think to get there it just takes the use of the grey matter called a brain.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Michael

      Yes sir. No reason not to do this. If we could only construct an atmosphere there.....

      April 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  8. Julian

    You'd get more support and punch a few buttons if your changed your Mars Surface artwork so that the flag patches on the suits were Chinese and not American and maybe slap a Euro flag on the vehicle. Stick it to naysayers what the future looks like if the U.S. continues on its conservative, backward-looking course.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Johnny Rocket

    YES!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  10. Oscar Pitchfork

    People just don't get it-there's NOTHING on Mars. It has a little more gravity than the moon, and what wispy atmosphere it has is poisonous. we can't terraform it because a, THERE'S NO ATMOSPHERE, and b, IT'S AS COLD AS DRY ICE! Now, is that enough to quell the hopes in all the little kweer martian hippies? Do it on the moon or in orbit; rescue's closer and it won't take 2 years to arrive.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Wait a minute... we can't terraform it (meaning, change things like the temperature and the atmosphere) because it's cold and the atmosphere is hostile? Seriously, Oscar? Do you also say, "I can't paint my house yellow because it's white."? "I can't fix my car because it's broken"? "I can't light a fire because it's cold"?
      Oh, and there is a lot of stuff there. It's a planet. It's made of stuff. Iron, nickle, phosphorous (we're running out of that on Earth, by the way), oxygen (which is why the dirt is reddish), and so on. Oh, and land. Lots of land. Most people consider land to be somewhat valuable.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
      • Oscar Pitchfork

        There's nothing to burn. How you gonna refine stuff? You'll need nuclear reactors for EVERYTHING YOU DO. Cause (like I said) it's a 2 year trip, and the sun's just a little spot. No Solar power, just nuclear, and after YEARS of effort (and quadrillions of dollars) you'll still need a)gravity to hold down any air you make, and b) a man-made orbital STAR to keep everything warm.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
      • Judge Dredd

        You really need to use your analogies different. Earth's atmosphere was designed to sustain life. Mars can barely do that. First off it is too far from the Sun to be warm. So pack your space suit with lots of energy to stay warm. Second without the gravity that Earth has you can say goodbye to your bone mass and muscle strength. Forces like gravity help keep you in shape, unlike fat people. You know like when you run uphill because it's tougher than going downhill. So you will need to workout a lot more on Mars to be able to keep your strength. Not to mention the trip for almost 2 years of zero gravity, that will def take it's toll on your body.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
      • ...

        Don't worry, once we run out of most of the vital resources on this planet, including rare earth minerals in electronics which China holds a virtual monopoly on, and all our favorite products and lifestyles become completely unavailable, they'll be moaning why we didn't go, and why we let China claim all the deposits on the moon and Mars. Then they won't just be owning you, they'll be owning your future too. And your children's. Those critics will probably hold public lynchings too. They should start with themselves.

        Article your politicians don't want you to read:
        http://lunarscience.nasa.gov/articles/is-mining-rare-minerals-on-the-moon-vital-to-national-security/

        April 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Ahem

      Please get your facts straight. There is an atmosphere, thinner than Earth's but significant enough for probes to land by parachute. Temperature depends on a lot of factors but there are times when it is warm enough to melt ice. Humans could live there someday inside protected shelters.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
      • Judge Dredd

        Please cite your sources and not some vandalized wikipedia page.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
      • Walken1

        @Judge Dredd: Have you ever seen a picture of the Viking landers that made it to Mars in the 1970s? They were the size of a small jeep – with a boat load of electronics and legs to keep the units upright when they landed. If there wasn't an atmosphere, what do you think would have happened to these things – they'd fall like a rock and be destroyed on impact. Of course they had parachutes (just check out the thousands of photos online), and there's no reason to have a parachute unless there's an atmosphere to create drag. Here's one source: http://www.atmos.washington.edu/local-httpdocs/k12/viking_history_npug_84.html

        You also don't need to look very far to find out that Mars can become as warm as 60+ degrees F, but averages around 80 below F.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Alxeter

      Of course we can terraform Mars. We are pumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere everyday here which has already warmed up the Earth, although I'm sure you didn't know that there are greenhouse gases 300 times as potent as CO2 that we could make on Mars with relatively little trouble. Also, if we heated it up enough then the frozen CO2 deposits on Mars would begin to turn into gas, which would warm the planet more, which would turn more CO2 into gas, and so on and so forth.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Why don't we "mine" the scientific "gold mine" of the International Space Station (yeah...right) before we dedicate another ten trillion dollars to go to Mars. And what are we going to do when we get there? Oh Yeah...take more pictures of the planet earth. Whoppee!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • rickirs

      Right better vwe should use trillions to wage fruitless wars to keep the military industrial complex alive.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Seattlite

    There is one major problem with sending people to mars: They would all be dead or dying from radiation before they arrived at the planet. Any extended travel outside Earth's magnetosphere and ozone layer will expose astronauts to fatal doses of radiation. Humans do not possess any technology that can overcome this problem, nor is there any promising technology on the horizon. Moon astronauts tell of their experiences with radiation and brilliant flashes with their eyes closed. NASA knows that an extended stay on the moon or a trip to mars without not invented yet shielding is a death sentence.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Phil (D.C.)

      The whole premise of this article is that solutions will not present themselves unless we try to do things that have not been done before. Without ever attempting to go to Mars, there is no incentive to innovate the shielding you are describing. Think before posting.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Mr Spock

      funny thing is that we had the same technological problems when we committed to going to the moon. There were plenty of scientists who thought flying through the Van Allen Belt would be suicidal. We didn't have heat shields to endure the return to atmosphere...the list goes on and on. But SOMEHOW we managed to develop NEW technologies to handle all of these so-called insurmountable problems of going to the moon. That is the point of committing to doing something that has never been done before. Finding out how.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  13. BigMc

    Agree and add 4th Reason: "Take the high ground or they will bury you in the valley".

    April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Grumpster

    I fear that past mars missions have has some miscues because of people not wanting us to find anything that would show we are not alone...or were not alone in the universe. There are some theories around that we aren't going because of the agenda of the religious right who just don't want us to prove them wrong.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  15. John Blackadder

    We need to go to Mars to show we are not alone in the Universe! Baloney! We are not alone. With perhaps 10 trillion planets in just our universe, thinking we are the only intelligent life is utter hubris, antiquated Genesis-centric thinking, and scientifically untenable.
    We should embrace the fact we are not unique, and figure out ways to identify civilizations that are millions of years more advanced than us. That SHOULD be high on NASA"s list.
    Oh, and ROBOTS do it better. Why send people for a few days and 400yards, when rovers can last years and drive miles?

    April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • TAO

      Actually, two guys, a good rover, and some scientific equipment could accomplish in a week what the last three rovers have taken up to 9 years to do. Those rovers are not R2D2s. They are very simple machines, compared to a living human brain. They are controlled entirely by humans from millions of miles away, where the simplest instruction can take as long as 20 minutes to get there. Very clumsy and time consuming, as opposed to a real geologist in the field.

      April 7, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  16. paul

    At this time going to Mars doesn't do much more for us than going back to the moon. Do a little successful terraforming then I'll be more interested in Mars.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  17. BigMc

    Agree and add 4th Reason: "Take the high ground or they will bury you in the valley". From Korean War. Equally true of the gravity mountain. Want to be on the wrong end of a Very Big Rock from space?

    April 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • IDK

      You capitalized Very Big Rock.

      But yeah, a world that at least SOME of us could escape to for the duration of a cataclysmic event would be better than dying.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  18. DB5

    Anyone heard of Project Serpo? An alliance was reached that made Project Serpo a success and it can be done again. The government must share their secret if there is going to be any further space exploration.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • lonomoholo

      SERPO? Dude, it's pure BS. I think you may watch too many fantasy movies.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  19. rdepontb

    This absurd over-reach by our space science community has got to come to grips with reality. And the case this guy makes is laughably naive or willfully selfish.

    There is almost no scalar level to which his notions of "challenge" and "new knowledge" could not be applied, from the nano level on up. The oceans, the human mind, agriculture, energy, health, aging–and many more areas of research-are in need of top scientific challenge. Many of these areas have been starved for resources while we chase ghosts in outer space. I'm not saying that goal served no purpose; but it's original "challenge" was not intrinsic-it was to beat the Russians to the moon, and let's accept that as its true start.

    Give the rest of science some room, folks.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  20. spockmckoy

    We haven't proved that humans will not go crazy in a tin can for 7 mos just to get to mars....... could you drive across this country without stopping to get out and stretch your legs? try staying in your RV for 7 mos. without opening a window to smell the air, get out to walk, etc, etc. This trip is asking a lot of basic questions just to start.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Maverick

      Wrong. Why do you people open your mouths and flap your gums when you have no idea whats going on in the world? Some crew spent 520 days simulating the trip.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARS-500

      We should go to mars, but the lot of you seem like you lack the wit required to understand why. Go back to your facebook, twitter, and television, rednecks.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
      • spockmckoy

        they also simulated a 2nd earth to simulate long travel and it failed miserably + people snuck out. + in response to the space station, it is FAR larger than any capsule designed to date to go to MARS. We have not proven we can do it. Shrinks have been looking at this for some time.

        April 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • spockmckoy

        I've been fol;lowing the space program since Gemini. I am well versed in the many difficulties + the experiments to simulate. The problem with 'simulations' is you know you are on earth and anything that goes wrong, you can step out of the simulation. NO stepping out of a tin can 4 months into a journey with no return. Now put your foil hat back on and climb back into your mommy's basement.

        April 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • elazul27

      "We haven't proved that humans will not go crazy in a tin can for 7 mos just to get to mars."

      Astronauts have spent longer periods of time on board the International Space Station.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  21. Joe G

    O.K. poindexter, take it easy. I'll give you a Rubix cube if you settle down a little.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  22. Brooklyn Will

    Folks – Earth is not in danger, nor is the human race... 200 years from now there will simply be far fewer humans... in any ecosystem when one species over-dominates it eventually can't grow further so it dwindles back down to a sustainable level. In our case it will probably be war and disease.

    Anyhow – I don't mean to be alarmist – but it's far more likely that we'll stabilize at a healthier (and lower) level eventually then simply die out

    April 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      What if we waste all of our resources or destroy our atmosphere?

      April 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • rdepontb

      Agreed.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Jay

      "Folks – Earth is not in danger, nor is the human race..."

      Tell that to the dinosaurs. Oh, wait, they're extinct because they weren't smart enough to develop the technology to avoid or survive a Chicxulub-like extinction event.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  23. mojoutta

    All bad reasons. We can learn as much solving problems here at home. Besides: There is very little intelligent life on earth, what makes anybody think it will be different somewhere else?

    April 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • pozin

      The author does not realize that the USSR was defeated economically as it spent more than it could afford. Perhaps they want the USA to follow the same course. Same type of thinking that I still have checks so I still must have money. WHEN we get back on our feet then we can look at investing in space. So far all I know we got was Teflon & Tang and some neat memories but they do not pay the bills.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
      • Vipergtsrgt1

        Ten items derived from space exploration:
        1. Invisible braces – translucent polycrystalline alumina was developed by NASA to protect infrared antennae
        2. Scratch resistant lenses – Developed for astronaut helmet visors
        3. Memory foam mattresses – Designed by NASA to cushion seats during spacecraft landings
        4. Ear thermometer – Infrared heat sensored developed at Jet Propulsion Lab
        5. Athletic shoe insoles – The spring in modern athletic shoes is derived from Apollo Moon boots
        6. Telephone communication – Cell phone towers, satellite phones, satellite TV; all find basis in the need to contact astronauts in space.
        7. Smoke detectors – Modern smoke alarms are based on smoke alarms used in Skylab
        8. Grooved roads and runways – NASA experimented with putting grooves in concrete to channel water and make landings safer.
        9. Cordless tools – Astronauts needed convenient cordless tools to operate freely in space.
        10. Water filters – So far removed from a hospital, astronauts needed a way to keep drinking water clean in space.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
      • TB

        Pozin: The bankruptcy of the USSR had little, if anything, to do with the Soviet space program. The fact that they are still carting our guys up there says something. The Soviet economic collapse happened because military spending had gotten so out of control that no one but the generals and the design bureaus were left in charge, building more weapons and missiles than they could ever ever hope to use in 5 nulcear wars. Read "The Dead Hand" by Hoffman. It will give you some insight into what led up to the collapse. Likewise, the real waste of money in the US is not the space program; that's hardly a drop in the bucket next to the trillions we spent on Iraq. The Apollo program in the 60's and 70's was very little next to what we spend on Vietnam (not to mention lives). That's where the huge waste is, not space exploration.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
      • Space Chimp

        People were drinking tang before space flight.

        But NASA contracts out most of it's work...they retain usage rights, but the companies they work with retain intellectual rights...Texas Instruments developed the first integrated integrated circuit why? Black and Decker developed smaller more powerful and longer lasting batteries for their drills how and why? How about the padding in the helmet of your favorite football player? Freeze dried food? Infant Formula? Sports Bras, temperature control clothing, swim suits? NASCAR for the rednecks?

        April 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • ChicagoRich

        Teflon was actually developed before NASA, as part of the Manhattan Project and our nuclear program, in our efforts to build centrifuges that didn't self destruct at such high speeds.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Rob Is Dumb

      the same people who found out the earth is round, not flat. If you want to be left in the dust then that's fine. Don't make decisions about what I spend my tax dollars on.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • jt

      By intelligent, he means sapient life. Stop being sarcastic, this is an actual issue.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  24. RP

    Philosophically, the question of life elsewhere in the Universe is already solved. We aren't debating whether or not we COULD go there. We know we can. We might not thrive there or even survive, but the issue of us being able to be on Mars at all is not even a question. So what if we did it. Even if we don't thrive or even survive, we will create the very evidence we seek – life outside the Earth. Since we know we could do that, you might as well consider that we have already done it. That means it is a foregone conclusion that it is possible and that if we were able to explore the universe we would find that others have done it.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      So we shouldn't go there because we could? That doesn't make any sense.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
      • RP

        Yeah it sounded better before I ran out of beer.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        That's why the government should just spend money on beer for everyone instead of space exploration!

        April 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  25. Alex Povolotski

    Seriously. People die every day on Earth and we are wasting resources throwing them into the black hole (almost literally.) Solve internal problems first.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ian

      So, if we shut down space exploration, people will stop dying? Well, where will we put them all? We'd need more room!!!!!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • yahweh

      "Why get in ships and sail the seas when there are still problems here at home that we need to solve!!" Seriously, it's morons like you that make me wonder how humans have achieved as much as we have.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Paul

      Maybe going to Mars could help solve much of our earth bound problems...maybe not. But nothing is solved by not even trying. Exploration helps humanity expand , gain knowledge. Put simply it nourishes us, gives us impetus to grow. The problems here on earth can be solved (as difficult as that may seem) without having to omit a Mars exploration agenda.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Daniel

      We will always have internal problems. We'll never solve all of them. Might as well go anyway.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  26. Schizoid

    when the US government decides to stop spending trillions of dollars in maintaning its military presence in dozens of countries, when it stops to spend trillions in hunting and killing random arabs, when it stops espending trillions of dollars that doesn`t really have and it gets out of its debt... we will go to mars.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • TB

      If GWB hadent gotten us into Iraq we could have put a Mars mission together already, been there, come back thumbed our noses at the Chinese, and still had money left over for public schools and cancer research.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  27. Joe Seattle

    Honestly what we should be working on are advanced technologies for space travel, not eeking our way to Mars with the marginal capabilities we currently have to do so. Should we spend $2 trillion on a stunt, or on advanced physics?
    It's a trick question. We should stop taxing people in our society to the point of driving them to hand-to-mouth subsistence so those capable to accomplish Mars and beyond can get to work. They don't want or need your money. They just want you to stop taking theirs.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Ian

      Way to make this into a tea party argument. Go somewhere else.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
      • Robert

        Way to turn this into a political discussion – go somewhere else and take your politics with you Ian.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
      • Fred

        How is that a tea party argument? There was nothing political in that statement you troll.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  28. Rob

    I propose a worldwide collection of money from individuals. Who wants to contribute when you get nothing in return? I do. I am not American, but surely I can donate at least $50 just for the pride of knowing that I contributed to humanity's first step on March. There are 7 billion people. If you get one in a thousand (that's 7 million) to contribute $50, that sums up to $350 million.

    What? You say that won't take you to Mars? OK, maybe you see the problem now... I am all for Mars. In fact, I am strongly for going to Mars. It is just one tiny, tiny problem. It costs enormous amounts of money. Maybe the U.S. should have thought about that BEFORE spending a trillion dollars on wars since 2001. That would have paid for a trip to Mars.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bill

      Would be cool if we could vote when paying taxes. Those who want to go to Mars could designate a small portion of their payment toward it. The idiots who want to start wars can pay for them.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
      • Rob

        That's an excellent idea! A checkbox on the federal U.S. taxform whereby $50 can be voluntarily drawn. There should be no recording of who pays these $50. It should be simply good will with no payoff. A deed for those who want. Then there should be another box on the taxform to voluntarily pay $1,000. Every one of those will get their name ingraved on a plaque that will be placed in Mars.

        If one in 20 Americans opt for this (I am simplifying here, pretending every American regardless of age fill out their own tax form), then that is some 15 million Americans. That times a thousand dollars sums up to 15 BILLION dollars. Now at least we have a start. In addition, Americans should be able to make voluntary donations of any size directly to a special Mars fund. Who knows, maybe a few extremely wealthy Americans will donate huge amounts.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      I think there is a false assumption here. The technologies developed for the Apollo program (for example) have probably repaid the world economy many times over for the cost of the Apollo program.

      Whenever we push the envelop technologically, we tend to develop new technology. WWII gave us jet aircraft and computers. The Apollo program pushed us to develop micro-chips that helped fuel the computer revolution of the 1980s and the internet revolution of the 1990s. What will Mars give us? Who knows, but we won't know unless we try.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • chaalz

      I'd love to contribute directly as well, but there is one small problem. What happens if the research led to discovering a cure for cancer (just as an example)? Who all should benefit? Just the 7 million? Or everyone?

      We don't pay car insurance after we need to a make a claim, you pay before and hope you never get into an accident. You don't get paid before you work either. You prove that you are a good employee and get paid after. We need to learn to put in the sacrifice first.

      April 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  29. Mike

    I am an avid science buff, and grew up on the magnificent accomplishments of the Apollo space program, but that was the age when smoking was cool, it was OK to pat your secretary on the behind, and baby car seats were these metal contraptions that would knock a kids teeth out if you were in an accidents. In other words, it is a VERY different world today. We have massive uncontrolled deficit in government spending, a wealthy class that refuses to bring their contribution up to a fair share, and many more vexing problems in need of creative effort and solutions (such as how to restructure healthcare and education to be accessible to all and affordable). Send robots, but spending $1trilllion or more to send humans to Mars would be a colossal waste, and would go down in history as emblematic of a society that has completely lost its soul. We could afford a dream in the 60's. Today, we must make sure we have a roof over our head and a bed to sleep on. There are more important things to do, and our survival as a society depends on our ability to set the right priorities.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Fred

      Naaa... Come on man. Let's get off this rock.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • The_Mick

      Mike – the space program began in the 40's when we brought German scientists under Wehner von Braun to the USA when the deficit, like now, was over 100% of GDP. We were fighting a Cold War with the Soviet Union. By the 60's we had half a million soldiers in Vietnam. You say, "We could afford a dream in the 60's." Back then, families didn't go out to restaurants every week. They didn't belong to health spas. They didn't regularly have birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese and Roller Rinks. They didn't spend an average $1078 on Senior Proms. Few had homes with air conditioning – let alone cars. I personally never DREAMED in the 1960's that I would have taken all the cruises and overseas vacations I've had. If families in the 60's looked at us now, they'd be shocked at how luxurious our lives are.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  30. Space Cadet

    All the penny pinchers and blind visionary people posting here make me sad. In the one sentence this period will get in the high school text books two hundred years from now it will simply state that the United States were the first people to go to Mars or it will state that the Chinese went to Mars after the U.S. faded into obscurity. You choose which line to write.
    The money is peanuts compared to our budget. The technology is already here. All that holds us back is the timidity of our spirit.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Fred

      Right!. Thank you.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  31. jjs

    That drawing is cool, and inspiring. But it also looks like they dropped the rover keys in the sand somewhere. A metaphor???

    April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  32. Watch

    I am going to laugh, but also be very disappointed, when China gets there before we do. Maybe if China would announce plans to go to Mars we could get off our butts and try to beat them there. Really without the Soviets would we have ever gone to the moon? Think about it.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • ...

      No, when China claims the rare earth minerals and other resources NASA already said we discovered, but which the we, in our desperate attempts to save money in even critical long-term programs, ignore, those same politicians and critics will hold hearings and protests screaming "Why didn't we do it first?! They now have a complete monopoly on rare earth minerals and everything else! Who's fault is this!" That is, until they realize they're the ones that should be hanging their heads. /facepalm

      April 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  33. jjs

    Yeah, let's go to Mars. We've done such a good job with our own planet. But to get to Mars, we first have to sneak past that Nazi moon base, on the dark side. And let's hope they haven't colonized Mars – yet!
    And our country is in such bad shape. Politically, economically, spiritually. Like all great countries before us, we are starting to step backwards. And like Egypt, Rome, Britain (once great), we don't even notice. This country is losing its very substance. Politicians and churches are doing their best to turn us in the wrong direction, and against each other.
    In theory, I agree with the article. But... good luck on that Mars thing.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Keller

      Simple solution – Get rid of all politicians that seek to turn us against each other – as well as all that lack vision. Do that and we're not only happy and prosperous again – we're off to Mars!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  34. JS, WFBJ

    So many debbie downers on this blog. Where is your sense of exploration and discovery? One day soon, most of earth's resources will be used up and what will we do then? Colonizing other planets is the only way humans will survive as a species so we better get working on it right now.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Matt

      Mine is firmly rooted in exploring ways to feed the starving people on our own planet... on how to put people to work... on how to save what we are destroying here... on how to cure diseases, etc. Where is your sense of decency in regards to those things? I'm not sure "science" requires such arrogance. There was no strong point made here for going. If you want to convince people, try harder that the knowledge and the challenge.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        You act like we don't have the means of feeding people on earth. We do. Corrupt governments just keep the means we have from helping out the way they should. Look at those genetically engineered super crops that the one guy invented that are estimated to have saved a billion lives by creating crops that can grow in adverse conditions.

        Did you ever consider that maybe advancements we make in colonizing Mars can also help here as well? Also, consider It is possible to focus on two issues at the same time. We can help things here and work towards Mars at the same time.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  35. Sebastian Swiatecki

    Not by humans: I am all for exploring Mars with robots, not with humans. That leaves out the – inevitable – human suffering from the equation.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Watch

      Oh yeah lets operate that way. Dont ever do anything worth while so long as it causes human suffering. In fact people shouldn't work anymore because it causes suffering to wake up in the morning. Why pursue anything?

      April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
      • ...

        The great explorers and inventors of old all defied what their critics ridiculed them for. Their critics insisted on maintaining the status quo, that maintaining their current norms and lifestyles was a need, rather than simply a want, that anything beyond their immediate situation would never be possible. They were even called eccentric madmen. What did was the result? They created ingenious new technologies, found new worlds and civilizations, brought new trade and economic prosperity. Their critics were silent and embraced their achievements after the fact.

        Those same pessimists still exist today, and will always exist as long as there are humans on the planet. Today's inventors and explorers also must defy these same critics to achieve what others call impossible. Then, those same critics will silently embrace the countless unsung innovations that the space program has given gave us today. Unless of course, they feel that all the by-products of the program, including wireless technology, electronic components, computer components, satellites, unique compounds, medical technology, and much more are pointless. No, those same short-sighted critics from half a century ago now admit that it was a wise investment that has greatly improved the economy in the long term. Most of those technologies themselves, or their components, that we take for granted today wouldn't be here today but for NASA's manned spaceflight program.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Charles

      I feel like we have forgotten that the world as we know it today has been shaped by people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to advance the good of the human race. Think of the early explorers who sailed towards the edge of a flat earth, the explorers who charted entire river basins or the men who believed it was possible for humans to fly farther and faster. Without all of them the world would be a very different place and most of us posting to these comment strings wouldn't be here. It's for the same reasons that we should be looking to expand our knowledge and capabilities whether they are in space or in the oceans or even on the streets of cities around the world.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • AlexK

        If someone approached me and said "we want you to be one of the explorers to go to Mars. There is a 25% chance you will never make it home"

        I would take the opportunity in an instant.

        April 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  36. wmcritter

    Going to Mars is imperative for the survival of the species. Earth will experience another Extinction Level Event (ELE), it is not a matter of "if", but "when". Maybe it will be an asteroid, maybe it will be a super volcano, or something else, but history proves it will happen. Maybe it will be tomorrow, maybe it will be a million years from now. But for the first time in Earth's history, a species on the planet has the ability to prevent it's extinction. The fact that we actively choose not to, makes us the stupidest "intelligent" species on the planet, maybe in the universe.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Birch please

      Sadly the majority on this rock are waiting for this to happen so their magical ghosts/spirits/souls can go to a happy place.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • PlayfulDreamer

      Well-said.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • columbus

      What makes you think the same thing won't happen on Mars. By your calculations it would just be delaying the inevitable.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
      • wmcritter

        Of course Mars will be wiped out at some point too. But the chances of that happening at the exact same time as Earth are astronomical. If Earth gets wiped out, we have Mars as a backup, then we re-colonize Earth. If Mars gets wiped out, we have Earth as a backup, then we re-colonize Mars. The point is that even if most of the species dies, it still survives somewhere and can make a comeback. Plus, the logical extension of going to Mars is we also go to the Moon, the asteroids, the moons of Jupiter, and anywhere else we can. Eventually, we spread far enough that we can guaranteed survival of the species.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • ...

      Sadly, our American thinking far too often relies upon, "I'll start preparing for a disaster AFTER it happens." Doh! Homer Simpson would be proud. No wonder we're all broke.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • AlexK

      Your exactly right. Hawking talks a lot about this in some of his work. To sum up he says that the ultimate goal of human existence is to exist. It is for us to survive and not to go extinct as a species. We know 100% that eventually we will no longer be able to live on Earth. Therefore the ultimate purpose of our existence on this planet has to be to discover a way in which we can leave this planet and spread the human race to so many planets in so many solar systems that no event ever could destroy humanity.

      I 100% agree with him in that regard.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  37. Tom

    Lets feed the people who are DIEING everyday here on earth, lets end WARS, starvation, hunger etc and maybe then we can waste money on soething as stupid as this. Everyone wants to look for little green men. How about we FIX planet EARTH before we go messing another one up. LETS TRY THAT

    April 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      Colonizing Mars is a lot more likely to happen than any of that stuff you mentioned.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
      • toramithuk

        and what does that say about humanity

        April 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Birch please

      Agreed. But without inspiration (such that space travel offers) this probably wont happen. The US could have fed every child on the planet with our current war(s) but corprotocracy will sadly always take precedence.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Todd

      A lot of our problems, is that we have lost faith in everything. Being able to get to Mars not just as a nation but as a world wide project, is a symbol that we are not fading into the future, but we still have a future ahead of us.
      Science is getting eaten alive from rampant politics. Why should we go to Mars... Because we think we can! I can't think of any better use for my Tax Money. It isn't like the other areas are working so hot. The allusion if you just give it a bit more money it will work, is a joke too. Work on going to Mars, you inspire kids to be interested in the sciences and math, and the future. They have something to work forward. Right now all this political rambling is telling kids, Sorry, The 1960 is the peak of civilization, get ready to for the new dark ages.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      The only way any of that stuff will happen is when we get rid of religious delusion. All of it, especially Christinsanity & Islame.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • greenteagod

      We try to and then the corrupt governments of those countries steal any contributions. We need world police to take care of these issues but people don't want world police. So lets go to mars instead.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • toramithuk

        Your world police thrives on tyrants and corruption. As undemocratic and unequal as this "democracy" is to its own people, it is even more undemocratic and unequal to people elsewhere. Stop trying to police the world, maybe you can save enough for a trip to Mars.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Lemark

      So then... HOW are we going to get all of these people fed and HOW are we going to stop wars and HOW are we going to solve any of the other problems we are faced with.

      Well, one way to solve some of the problems is through allowing our markets and production to expand. Expansion is the best way to allow people to have opportunities. However if we are limited to one planet, we have a rather limited ability to expand.

      By allowing the human species to expand off of the earth we are investing in our eventual (and not too distant) ability to expand. That kind of economic opportunity is what really alleviates some of those problems you speak of.

      I have yet to see any of those issues just get solved becuase... well we should.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  38. columbus

    I understand Zurbin's passion to ignite excitement for Mars exploration, but sadly, that's not part of our global commitment, for instance NASA's budget is $20B, Apples sales were more than $100B, Walmart's gobal sales were more than $400B. People just don't care enough unless it is a benefit to them. I think the jump from moon landing to planetary habitation in less than 100 years is a science fiction dream. There is a lot of research and science to be done before we commit lives to an off world adventure, and robots and probes are a safe and practical way to get the information we need. Zurbin would be better served to build the wonder and excitement to ignite the same passion he has, in the next generation of scientists and explorers, who will have more knowledge to make life and death decisions by, and possibly a public with greater concern for the future of our species. As much as it is in his heart to see the future now, there are still many things that need to be done here first, in order to take on the mighty dreams and goals that will take us to the stars. Technology is only a small piece of the equation.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      Think about the difference in technology from 1860 to 1960. Who knows how far we will have advanced in 50 years from now?

      I think the key is that all of the countries will have to start working together as opposed to isolating ourselves.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • AlexK

        Technology also grows exponentially. As computers get more powerful they allow us to expand our technology at an increasing rate. It also drastically decreases the cost of technology. Look at the world around us and its pretty clear that the speed that technology is growing is accelerating.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Ian

      "I think the jump from moon landing to planetary habitation in less than 100 years is a science fiction dream."
      Well, that's just silly. Thirty years ago, the concept that I would be sitting here typing a letter to someone on a device no bigger than a deck of cards, and be able to send that letter to the other side of the world in a matter of milliseconds, seemed like science fiction. It is this kind of limited thinking that will truly destroy our future.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  39. RAA

    EXPLORE, EXPLORE, EXPOLRE – Without it, where would we be today? Certainly not to this point. If you, decrease jobs you decrease spendable money. This is basic stuff folks. Explore and build and create.

    But my one issue is this, please for every probe or other you send out, send some seeds for plant/food growth. Just as a bird can drop a seed and a plant will grow, every probe should carry seeds. Maybe something will grow. You never know unless you try and why waste the opportunity?

    I am sure some of you will say this may bring something to another planet that is not right. But we have seed research labs and if we do not try, our explorers will struggle with the basic needs of food and water. Thus we need to find water first.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      Nothing will grow on Mars. You would need some sort of colony set up for anything to grow.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Duh! We'll never get to Mars if this is the stock we're selecting from!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  40. sad

    We'll have to wait until China gets there and then maybe we'll go into space-race mode again. Every time a NASA program gets cut, China come knocking to offer new jobs and a 25% raise to the now-unemployed NASA engineers and scientists. It's only a matter of time.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  41. Tler

    Mars? We will not go to mars as long as we have a battle in the government for power and control by two parties. Not gonna happen. Mar's will be here long after we are d ead and gone. That is the human race.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  42. John

    I'm ready! Masters in Physics, minor in Computer Science and years of Earth-based survival training (living off the land, etc...) and have been living off grid since 2004.

    Send me!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Birch please

      I thought internet counted as part of the grid lol

      April 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
      • Lemark

        Na, I think that means the power grid.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Danny

      Chuck, I think his point was that the process of developing the technology (that we don't have yet) will also be what stimulates the economy (citing the Apollo missions). He is saying that because the economy is in shambles we should set the goal to go to Mars.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  43. Chuck Finley

    We don't have sufficient technology to send people there right now anyway, so the argument is moot. Anyway, the world's economy is in shambles right now. Let's wait on allocating billions upon billions of dollars just to say we made it there and back.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      That's why we start focusing on developing technology now so in the near future we can go there.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
      • Spam I Am

        Steve Buscemi has a better chance of scoring with Salma Hayek than we do of going to Mars anytime soon. Let's focus on fixing Earth first.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
      • Ian

        Jacques has a point.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Space Cadet

      All we lack is the will

      April 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • joe

      Apparently you didn't read the article? Please re-read (slower)!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • ZCarter

      That's patently false, actually. First off, we have all the technology available to build the rockets – it's really not that difficult. Secondly, Zubrin's "Mars Direct" plan would cost only about $30 billion, a few months in Afghanistan costs more than that, and thirdly, your reasoning suggests that in 1957, you would have said not to go to the moon because we didn't have the technology. If everyone thought like you, there would never be any innovation anywhere.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
      • Alxeter

        I agree, sometimes we don't need as much fancy technology as people think, the first moon landing was saved by a ballpoint pen because a switch in the capsule broke off when Buzz was climbing back in.

        April 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Paul

      As it does cost money to do something like this, the thing that people are incredibly short sighted about is how much new technology (and business and jobs) were created from that technology that came from the space program. There are so many side benefits from space programs that the actual trip to Mars is just a small benefit.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Ian

      Early Man 1 to Early Man 2: We no have technology to develop this "wheel" you speak of. Keep carrying stuff to cave and be quiet.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Lemark

      There are components that would have to be engineered to go to Mars, but we have all of the technical expertise to plan that trip today if the budget existed.

      There is no technology breakthrough needed.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  44. Judge Dredd

    Why would we want to go to Mars? Do people realize how cold it is on that planet? If you think it gets cold on this planet, check out Mars where it has a mean distance of 1.524 AU = 2.279×108 km. Earth is about a mean distance of 1.000 AU = 1.496×108 km. Yeah that is quite a difference. When you land there, what if there is no life, then how are you going to colonize it? How are you going to produce air and green house gasses? Face it, going to Mars is useless. We are stuck on this planet, enjoy your life while you can.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Tler

      Everything you know about mars is what government controlled scientists have told us. Have you been there? Have you taken a reading or the temperatures in different places? No. When you go there and come back then tell us what it's really like there.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
      • Judge Dredd

        Haha here we go with those Government conspiracy theorists. Luckily I use science to back up my posts. Think about it, why is land near the equator usually warm year around? Well because it tends to be closest when facing the sun and since it usually has the sun on it a lot, makes it warm. With Mars being much farther away from the Sun, you know that large fusion reactor that keeps us warm, the surface of that planet will be colder. There is a reason why there is organic life on Earth. It is the right distance from the sun. This planet took billions of years to develop and it's done a pretty good job. Getting there is also a trick too. Not just technology but based on our physical makeup. What happens in zero gravity? You float but your body is also doing nothing. Gravity and other forces keep our bodies in movement, keeps our bones and muscles healthy. So when you are floating around you have to work out and going to Mars takes months or maybe years to get to. So you have to work out at least 8 hours of areboic and anaerobic exercise every 24 hours. On top of that you need to sleep to rest and maintenance on your craft just in case it goes to crap.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Space Cadet

      Sure and by that argument, why sail the ocean – the ocean is wet and wide, who would want to set foot on it, better to stay at home and be a potted plant.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
      • Judge Dredd

        Hey you can sail the ocean all you want. Try to get the money for it Indiana Jones since it seems like you are the adventurer. In reality you are sitting on your computer that your parents paid munching on doritos, don's spoil your dinner. I have probably traveled this world more in 10 years than you will do all your life. See I have been on all 7 continents, yes Antarctica. From South America you can take boat tours, go on the continent for some time and then leave but hey that is better than you have done. I'm all for exploring oceans but know this, there is a lot of garbage out there that just comes together and floats. First we fix how we live then we can go on and destroy another planet.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Birch please

      What about space colonies? If we are stuck on this planet man kind is doomed. A civilization off of earth IS THE CENTRAL GOAL OF OUR SPECIES!!!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • Judge Dredd

        Humans are doomed since our inception. We as a species are designed to kill ourselves. What has killed more humans than any other reason.....other humans.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Keller

      OK MR. Apathy.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  45. wishing

    We currently have a fully servicable, under-utilized space station parked just above us. Put a couple of rockets on it and move it into orbit above Mars. Use that as the base of operations for the Mars exploration, while investigating the feasibility of a Mars base.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Birch please

      The problem is mars does not have the magnetic protection that earth (and the space station just outside) has. This is VERY dangerous for people in space.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
      • Tom

        Very true. When Mars lost its magnetic field/shield, it when it lost its oceans and most of its atmosphere.

        What most people don't want to accept, while Mars had rivers and oceans in the past, they were of acid, not clear water (pH=7) we have here on Earth. It was way too acidic to support the _start_ of any type of life as we know it.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • littlexav

      The ISS is simply not built for interplanetary travel. It's designed for orbit, and only for orbit. If you strap rockets onto that thing, you'll tear it apart.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  46. Eric

    Pack up your rocket booster, Mr. Zimmerman and be the first one to set foot on that dead read-planet. Hopefully, you will be the one stuck into the capsule and dig into the surface first-hand. No need to waste $$$ on robots and things.....I propose we just stick you in a rocket to find out first hand......

    Seriously.....space is vast and amazing.....but, wasting $$ on ROBOTS to go someplace is just WASTEFUL, STUPID, and PATHETIC. Work on building the transportation that will get the people there to see it first hand. If the people wanting to "check it out" are too big of a coward to do it.....or, don't have the public speaking skills to do so.....maybe they should think about what planet we all live on first and take care of it before it ends up as DEAD as Mars is already!

    April 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Eric

      Correction: Zubrin....Zimmerman can join, though....he'd be the perfect candidate to join you....since he's already screwed up here.....

      April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  47. Aaron

    We should go to Mars before China does. Forget finding life, etc, it's about natural resources: gold, silver, tin, niobium for superconductors, and others. Same with the moon. No one country has staked a claim to the resources. China has the man power, the economic wherewithal, and the man and brain power to do it. You can bet it's on their radar. I dunno, they're getting more and more powerful and richer, while we go weaker and poorer. Maybe Communism really works?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • ZCarter

      The first flag to ly on Mars is going to be a Russian, Chinese or Private one, NOT an American one.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • ZCarter

      The first flag to fly on Mars is going to be a Russian, Chinese or Private one, NOT an American one.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  48. davetharave

    Much more enlightening than Copernicus, and that's not a knock on Copernicus.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  49. Tom

    Lets take care of planet earth before we go messing up another. Life on MArs in the past, who cares. People dieing from hunger, disease, strife, war, lets fix these things first. Then we can go sepnding trillions looking for life elesewhere. Jeez whast the matter with people.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • trek820

      Tom, your right. Mars is like the 'Lexus' effect for politicians and engineers.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Eazy E

      Tom these issues have been around since the beginning of man. I think its safe to say that they will never be "fixed." Of course we should continue to explore our solar system and beyond... its about the quest for knowledge, understanding of the universe around us, and the challenge. Wars will always be around and unfortunately hunger will continue to exist... That should not deter us from advancements in technology, science, and exploration. If you really think humans will exist only on this planet 5k years from now you are either ignorant or one of those "jesus is coming back any minute" morons.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • David Coutts

        Dude, you rock

        June 30, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • ZCarter

      $30 Billion on a manned Mars mission using "Mars Direct" or $1 Trillion on Iraq and Afghanistan. I can see where your priorities lay.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  50. kerry

    Don't worry Mr. Zubrin. Several of us here were aware of how inadequately thought out that previous article was. That's be like telling a bustling restaurant to stop serving food during happy hour, so we can focus on only serving drinks. But I appreciate your article nevertheless. The world doesn't work on one tasks at a time.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  51. itoldyouso10

    Going to Mars is humanity's destiny, and we need to preserve our civilization on another world in order to preserve humanity. If anyone has read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars Trilogy" then they can read a possible scenario where a new culture and civilization emerge while Earth is trying to deal with it's problems. Will Martian society be perfect? No. But if we send a few people over there to permanently settle and create a new civilization, then we can be assured that at least part of us may survive for a little bit longer if there was a global catastophe. Many people on this blog are saying that we should concentrate on Earth's issues first...well consider the future of space exploration to be just as important a world issue as everything else in trying to save the world, and you will see that it is an issue that takes presedence over things we worry about here as well...the faster we get to Mars, the better, so I think we should start planning to go there because it may be one of the best investments humanity will ever make together in the future of our species.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • rmollise

      Agree 100%. Alas we don't have the will and courage as a nation to do it. :-(

      April 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Aaron

      Yeah I remember another destiny. It was called manifest destiny. Didn't work out so well for the indigenous people of this country. Using words like that are useful for allocating masses of brain dead people to follow your dream.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • Keller

        Those 2 concepts are about as similar to one another as Pineapples and DVD players – talk about brain dead.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • ZCarter

        So, you're argument is that the indigenous Martians will be wiped out by colonizing humans?...

        April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • cacarr

        You understand that there is no indigenous, sentient life on Mars, right?

        April 24, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • ATXtechGuy

      don't worry, by the end of Gingrich's second term we will have a base on the moon and it WILL be American!!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  52. whywaste

    let us wait for technology to develop further, so that cost of sending missions to Mars is like buying a TV. Why do we want to there now by spending huge money, I mean do we want to waste to much money just to know whether there is any water there? Are we going to bring it home ??? Wasteful expenditure has already damaged the economy too much.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • rmollise

      Apply that philosophy and we will never get to Mars and you will never get a TV.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • irunner

      New technologies do not get developed until the need exists. There will always be reasons NOT to go. I'm sure Columbus had his share of doubters too, but found someone to champion his expeditions. The rewards of such an endeavour would be priceless!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  53. Versace33

    i am pretty sure many people who would disagree with this idea of going to Mars, again like many have stated its a bad idea due to economic issues, its true, we just cant afford it so why not creat something to make jobs and something to explore the universe, you might be thinking oh geez not another trecky, lol .. but think about the jobs it could creat for the Adverage person, welders,electritions,contractors, ect ect, basiclly every single job field could be apart of something that could change history, something that is funded by other countries and our own or any rich guy who wanted to be a part of it, think of it this way, we poscess the Technology now to send probs to pluto we are able to freeze humans and bring them back to life,we now have a ION Rocket, the only faults we have is creating Zero Gravity and longterm space travel i think the enterprise is a for sure thing we could build and it would be funded by millions of people that would want to be a part of it. i think this is not a fictional item i think this could be a real spaceship we could build and make a realistic object if we can build the space shuttle why cant we build a huge space ship?

    thanks for reading my crazyness but come on, if we can think this stuff up in movies why cant it be made into something real?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Alxeter

      If a rotating spacecraft could be made, which isn't as difficult as it sounds, then we could simulate gravity for the ride to and from Mars using centrifugal or centripetal force, whichever is right.

      Also, someone said it would take two years to get to Mars. Wrong. It would take six months at the most but the whole mission would likely be two years, going out, landing, and returning.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  54. Dan Bednarik

    I am all for space exploration - but a manned Mars mission can wait until the technology is practical enough to permit it. But, perhaps getting to that technology would be a huge economic driver for jobs and recovery. Might be an upside. Could send the Taliban there too - not too different from sending monkeys.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • rmollise

      The technology was practical enough thirty years ago. For some people it will NEVER be good enough. They are the same folks who stayed home and waved bye-bye to old Chris Columbus. ;-)

      April 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  55. Donnie

    Will cost in excess of 2 trillion dollars to make one (1) trip and back. Hello..??? Where we gonna get the $#@*&^ money?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Smell The Coffee

      Maybe Queen Isabella of Spain. She did it before when she funded the ridiculously expensive trip to the new world. In the end that turned out pretty good for everybody except the natives.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        Somebody should tell the native Martians to not accept any "gifts" from any astronauts. Might save them a lot of trouble.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Robert

      Obama knows. He has found vast supplies of money we never knew existed since he came to office.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Aaron

      Why that is just 2 F-35 Projects! To think if we skipped that stupid plane we would be halfway there just makes me mad.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Matthew Heins

      That's a bogus number

      NASA estimates for the first mission are $30 -$50 billion, over ten years time, which includes development or re-development of several expensive systems (like a heavy booster) that will then be in place for subsequent missiions.

      April 27, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  56. John

    And #4. Just to spend money because there is nobody here that needs anything..

    April 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  57. Texas Tea

    If you want to get to Mars, just convence the oil industry that there is oil there.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  58. Mike

    Everything we might learn by a manned Mars mission
    could be learned 10x faster at 1/10th the cost by
    more unmanned missions to the moon.

    Enough with the proxy-patriotism and hero-worshipin the space program,
    time to get serious about science and money.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Joe

      I would love to know where you pulled those numbers from. Please cite a source that is not something you are currently sitting on.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • phk46

      I agree with Mike. The bang for the buck for the unmanned program is vastly greater than that for the manned program. The argument for sending people is that they can cope with unplanned events better. But the practice is that they aren't allowed to go without having scripted and practiced every minute of their time. But mostly, the cost of maintaining a suitable environment for people is huge, and all the plans are dominated by the need to ensure that people don't get killed. People have proposed "one way" manned voyages, but pretty much only in jest. (Though I'm sure you could get volunteers to do it.) But we have no problem with one-way unmanned voyages.

      Look at all that has been learned by the rovers on Mars, at a relatively miniscule cost compared to a manned voyage.

      And look at what we have gotten out of the space station – pretty much nothing. All the cost and effort is expended on just keeping it up and running. We don't do any important science there.

      We can probably explore the whole solar system for much less than the cost of a single manned Mars mission. So lets do that. We can work on a manned expedition to someplace when the unmanned explorations report something back that is so compelling that it demands we have people there. I don't know what that would be – either we will know it when we see it, or else we don't need to send anyone.

      I don't think anyone foresees any technology that would make space a place to offload excess population from Earth. I can buy the idea that we want to have permanent colonies someplace else in case something catastrophic happens here on Earth. But a self sustaining colony anywhere off the Earth is vastly beyond our current technology. Given the way robotics is advancing, we would be better off establishing a robotic colony someplace like Mars, and let it build out a self sustaining infrastructure before sending any people there.

      And frankly, if we were able to develop the technology for a self sustaining colony off the Earth, we could use that same technology to build a self sustaining colony *on* the Earth. (The one we have isn't self sustaining yet.)

      April 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Mike

      Joe: Feel free to visit http://www.nasa.gov and read NASA's material for yourself. The information is publicly available to those with an interest.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  59. MistahBurns

    Why go to Mars, we should solve our own problems like world hunger.

    Do you actually believe we will ever solve world hunger, especially with capitalism and greed? Also is it not possible to champion both or all causes at once. You nay sayers operate under the assumption that it is one or the other, as if there is exactly 20 billion that the US can use each year.

    We do not have the technology to go to Mars, wait a hundred years when we have the technology.

    Technology to a large extent is the product of necessity. If we were to simply discontinue space exploration how do you suppose we will have the technology at a later date. Will it magically appera before us, given enough time?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Mike

      The solution to world hunger is well-known: reduce global population.

      What we need to discover is courage.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
      • Keller

        The solution to Global Hunger is to get the corrupt political figures out of office in the countries experiencing hunger and help those people get up to a state of civilization where they can produce their own food. There is probably 20x the farm-able land
        needed to feed the entire Earth population right now. This is a problem of political will, means of production and distribution. Nothing Else.

        April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
      • Joe Seattle

        Of course Keller is a fascist, and not much of a mathematician.

        Really, we're supposed to get organized such that 5% of all farmable land on the planet is in active use. We'd be pushing the laws of statistical thermodynamics at 1%. What would we get if we (the other 1B) fed all 6 billion of the starving people on the planet now? Here's a hint: the history you all have so little use for has the answer.

        And the answer is: 14 billion starving people.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  60. Simon

    The biggest reason is that if we do set a goal to go to Mars and we achieve it in say a 10 year time frame. We would have unlocked many technologies that probably would not have been found for 50 or more years.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  61. T

    Let us just get off this rock.

    We're turning into a nation of idiots whining or being obsessed about the population/war/economy/politics/reality tv crap and NOT doing anything to solve it but argue to no end over it. While the space program slows to a crawl, our shuttles are retired with no successor and we're going back to 1967 technology to launch our astronauts into space (Spam in a can). Great progress there.....

    This would be a great endeavor for Earth to achieve. To land on another world, terraform and colonize would be beneficial to Earth. I agree with "SHAWN" and "RP" for their opinions. We need to seriously pull together and also I think we shouldn't have "all our eggs together in one basket" in case of some runaway meteor.

    Basically, we need to get off our butts and get back out there ! If the space program hadn't tapered off in the '70 after the Apollo program....we'll been to Mars 10 years ago ! Who knows what that could have achieved back here on Earth...

    April 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Aaron

      I don't think so. In 1967 we were 2 years away from landing on the moon. We don't even have that capability anymore.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  62. Oleg

    Fact is, humans can not go to Mars today or probably within 10-20 years no matter how much we might want to. So, given that we are in for the long haul anyway, why not clean up the house first? Pay off national debt, switch to sustainable/domestic energy production, fix the education system. All of those things will ALSO help us to get to Mars, likely faster because of extra available money, technology and talent. Are we saying Mars colony doesn't need improved solar panels?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • medschoolkid

      We are far more technologically prepared to go to Mars than we were to go to the Moon in 1960 when Kennedy challenged the country to do so.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
      • Tom

        We have no where near the technology to go to Mars. A two or three year journey is simply out of the question for our level of technology; today or even in 100 years. Especially since we have no "guts" anymore for astronauts dying.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Oleg

      That would have been nice, but we actually have no idea how to land humans on Mars without killing them. And no, Earth or Moon solutions do not work.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  63. vicarkatz

    Sounds wonderful. But if we are going to "colonize" Mars, where are you going to get the resources, without destroying our remaining resources on earth? Including the air we breathe here, as polluted as it is.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • medschoolkid

      Remember Mars is a planet just like Earth with loads of resources. Except nobody has touched the resources on Mars and there isn't any ecosystems to destroy. Sounds like a good opportunity to create en ecosystem to me.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  64. huxley

    The budget to fund hard science research in the US is some 3 billion dollars. That's all of nuclear physics, solid state physics, geology, chemistry, biology, agriculture, medicine, and all other science research programs throughout the US.

    The budget for NASA is 18 billion dollars a year, which they have historically used to orbit the Space Shuttle, on average twice a year, to do zero gravity experiments such as making a famous youtube video of soap bubbles in zero gravity. So about 9 billion dollars, each time, to film soap bubbles and other stuff.

    Now personally, much as I like NASA, I have to scratch my head and wonder if thats an equitable distribution of our resources. Should we be spending billions of dollars just to re-launch the Space Shuttle, again, to make silly zero gravity youtube videos, again.

    Or should we increase the research budget across all hard science by a factor of 5 or more?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • LuisWu

      We don't have the shuttle anymore and the shuttle didn't get the majority of the funding from NASA, we launched a LOT of unmanned probes with some of that money. The unmanned probes provide a thousand times more real science than shuttle missions.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  65. roccop777

    To point #1– which states that since there were once chemical rich oceans on Mars, then life must have arose spontaneously (on its own, via random, undirected processes) from lifeless chemicals. The writer says if we were to discover life on Mars, then we could be sure that life "just happens" on its own in the universe. I find it amusing that the point they are seeking to prove, is already presented as a scientific fact, without a shred of solid evidence. Now how "scientific" is that?
    The empirical scientific facts clearly demonstrate that life has never arisen from lifeless chemicals via undirected, natural processes (abiogenesis). In spite of decades of countless experiments in the laboratory to duplicate such a scenario, the only only solid thing they have produced are excuses. Louis Pastuer declared: "Spontaneous generation (life from lifeless matter) is an illusion". I recently had a conversation with one of Germany's top biochemists and he confirmed that the latest discoveries in biochemistry only confirm Pasteur's statement. It is not science, but ideology which fuels this baseless assumption. If life doesn't arise out of lifeless chemicals in earth laboratories - then it won't arise by chance on Mars either. Please give a better reason to travel to Mars.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Dan

      To be certain, the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection does not indicate (nor does it try to indicate) where life started. I, for one, am a proponent of sending robots. Nothing else can be gained by rocketing people into space. That said, one of the primary reasons for exploring Mars is the potential for life. Even if it never happened, it still serves that purpose. The notion that some magical being created life out of nowhere is no less preposterous (and a great deal less provable) than the notion that organic chemicals slowly, yet surely, form larger more complex molecules.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • roccop777

        If life does not arise spontaneosly from lifeless chemicals (often termed "Chemical evolution" by scientific researchers), then biological evolution can't even get started - so it is a vital part of the "Evolution by natural selection". What is so hard to understand about that?
        There is absolutely no empirical scientific proof - in spite of years of research - that via undirected processes molecules can assemble themselves into more complex molecules and then kick-start themselves into life. That is ideological dreaming. It would therefore be good for you to honestly consider other sources for the origin of life. Rather than almighty chance creating everything out of nothing - I find an almighty, intelligent Creator as a much more satisfactory explanation. Btw - so did Sir Isaac Netwon, who wrote more about the Creator, than he did about physics!

        April 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Carl

      Newton also believed in alchemy. Oh, and, a creator? Really?

      April 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  66. nik green

    What would happen if we went to Mars and settled there? The place would be polluted, poisoned and trashed in no time. How do you stop the polluters when they've already consigned Earth to the planetary scrapheap?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • medschoolkid

      Please do some research. First, there aren't any ecosystems to destroy on Mars. Second, producing an abundance of greenhouse gases is exactly what we plan to do to have to terraform Mars. The greenhouse gases warm the planet up (its very cold) and provide sufficient atmospheric pressure for liquid water to be able to form on the surface.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
      • Aaron

        Please! You can't terraform Mars unless you can somehow increase it's gravity. The pressure on the surface is far less than at the top of Everest.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • nik green

        Pollution is not entirely dependent on having an ecosystem... although you are correct: there is no ecosystem there to pollute at the present. However, a nuclear accident or toxic chemical spill will spread pollution throughout the Martian environment, ecosystem or not. (Mars, despite its very thin atmosphere compared to Earth's, does have an atmospheric circulation – ie wind and weather).

        It is what will happen to Mars *after* terraforming that we will have to monitor very carefully. if we use the current "free for all" approach that is destroying Earth, then a terraformed Mars will be far ore vulnerable – on account of a far more fragile, artificial ly generated ecosystem.

        April 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        Mars has no atmosphere so what would trap the greenhouse gasses?

        April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  67. Fritz

    To me, space exploration isn't for national prestige or political stunts. It's to give humans the 'Second Option'. (second egg basket) Sending a few space travelers to Mars would be such a stunt. At this stage of our development, Mars isn't the right planet to explore and exploit. It's way too expensive, too far away and does little to further the 'Second Option'. We should concentrate on the Moon and its associated libration areas. That's where our near term future is. Mars will still be there when we are ready. In the meantime, we can send more and better probes to continue the exploration of Mars. But the Moon is close. It's loaded with resources. Cislunar space is the ideal proving ground for future expansion into the Solar System and beyond. After a hundred years of experience in cislunar space, the jump to Mars will be a piece of cake. It is these people accustomed to working and living in space that should be the ones to reach out to Mars and beyond.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • LuisWu

      I totally agree. We will go to Mars at some point, but not while our economy is in a shambles. When we have much better technology and can do it much cheaper, then we should go.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • zooni

      A second option the people who are the victims of pollution don't have. It would pretty much be a corporate green light to polute the planet for profit and leave the masses to rot on a devastated ecosystem. Cleanup the earth then go to Mars.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  68. PBEL

    It is obvious that space exploration is very expensive. And, there are numerous problems to be solved here on Earth. But one may help resolve the other. It has become apparent that no one nation could successfully mount a serious exploration of Mars. But, if we can learn to put our differences aside, multiple nations and shared resources could send expeditions to Mars on a reasonable cost basis. And perhaps, just perhaps, cooperation on joint space flights could lead to cooperation on other fronts. And let's not forget the benefits that would come from some serious science and technology invested in creating interplanetary spacecraft. I am sure that there would be new discoveries in diverse areas such as engineering, electronics, propulsion, avionics, ecology, energy and a host of others.

    Like a baby, our first steps into true space flight beyond the local earth-moon system will be unsteady, with setbacks. But IF our planet can get its act together, then I do believe that space exploration will not only be an increadible adventure, but will also reap benefits now and in the future for all countries that have the wisdom, patience and daring to cooperate and live this adventure.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  69. lundy

    Don't do it for your country, do it for your species. Were an extinction level event to happen with everyone here, we're pretty much out of luck.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  70. Brad

    Whether we should go back to space or to Mars should NOT even be a question. The way the world population is growing and resources dwindling, trying to solve all our problems without considering the exploitation of off-Earth resources is idiotic. The techno windfalls of learning to travel to and survive on another planet will educate and give humanity the means to survive its own insatiable need for food, space and knowledge.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  71. LuisWu

    How utterly stupid. So.. we should spend trillions of dollars to go to Mars when our economy is in the gutter and when we already know there is no life there or anything that would really benefit mankind except some scientific knowledge that probably wouldn't apply to anything on Earth. The robots have been doing a great job at a tiny fraction of the cost. A manned mission would just be a grandstanding, gee whiz, "look what we can do", cowboy joyride costing trillions, while providing little or no scientific value beyond what is already known. BAD idea. Yeah, we should do it when we have better technology and a better economy but that won't be anytime in the next few decades. Grow a brain dude.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Brad

      Stop trolling. You obviously read Niven.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Scott

      How do we know there's no life there? Our rovers have bareley covered a tiny fraction of a percentage of the surface. It's like dropping a probe in the middle of the Gobi desert, finding nothing, and saying "The Earth does not have life because this shovel full of rocks and sand does not!"

      April 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Chuck Finley

      Here here. Summed up my thoughts perfectly.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Matthew Heins

      It wouldn't cost "trillions of dollars".

      April 27, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  72. JJ Jukebox

    I hate saying this but going to Mars is a waste of time. We can't even take care of our Mother planet, Earth. We can't afford it. The atmosphere is not beathable. No plant life. My god, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to fiqure out this is a complete waste of time. ROBOTS people. We have robots who can go explore. We don't need to send people.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Mike H.

      Calling travel to Mars "Space Exploration" is like calling a trip to the nighborhood grocery shop globetrotting. It is a waste of money because we already know enough about Mars. We need to know much more about what's beyond our galaxy. Invest the money instead in anti-gravity and inter-planetary travel research. Once we find ways to bend space fabric and travel at warp speeds, then let's talk about real space exploration.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  73. cosmos

    I think you should do your science as well and learn that we greedy human are killing our planet and inevitably ourselves... Instead or putting resources into mars, we should be occupied with the whole mess we have caused here, in the earth and try to fix things like the climate change, financial chaos, renovable energies... in which planet do you live?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Craig

      The Earth only has one problem. Reduce the human population to around 500 million and the rest of the Earth's problems disappear.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • MCR

        After you, sir...

        April 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • ElectricLion

        Cool! And how do we do that? Mass sterilization? Not of you, of course, but those ... other ... people. Or how about going into third-world countries and just exterminate entire populations. How should be do that? Neutron bombs, machine guns? I know: Zyklon-B. It worked great for the Nazis

        I know: since the U.S has 300 million, we'll hold a worldwide lottery for the remaining 200 million. That Nobel prize winner didn't get a winning ticket? Aww. Too bad. Well, we didn't need that knowledge anyway.

        Honestly, do you people think before you post crap like this?

        April 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Vanilla lice

      I totally agree!

      April 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Chris R

      The technologies developed for space exploration *help* this planet and the environment. Seriously, the moon race gave us computers, satellites, improved engineering, and more. The race to Mars, at a minimum, will give us advanced propulsion systems, new ways to process waste, new methods to maximize food production in minimal space (they're going to have to grow food on their trip out in order to eat) and who knows what else. Space exploration is a multidisciplinary gold mine of research and invention that *will* help every single person here on Earth.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  74. Spacer

    I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Zubrin. Giving up on Mars means giving up on the future of all humanity – essentially allowing all human culture, all human intelligence, and all human experience to be extinguished from the the universe for all time, in a long slow fade to black on a fragile little world with finite and dwindling resources where all of our dreams have died. Giving up on Mars means all the sacrifices and trials of people throughout history will have been meaningless and trite. Mars is the true path to survival for our species, and to greatness for the next generation. To turn aside from this elusive red beacon in the skies is to come down on the side of utter chaos and oblivion, against the side of life and change and intelligence. We owe it to both the children who come after us and the ancestors who came before to take this dangerous step into the void and make the new red world our own.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • JJ Jukebox

      Good, people of this planet deserve to die out. We are the "lowlives" of the universe.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
      • Michael

        Speak for yourself, JJ.

        April 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • fireforeffect

        SHUT UP TROLL! GET A LIFE!

        April 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • LuisWu

      We should go to Mars and we WILL go to Mars but only when we have MUCH better technology and can do it MUCH cheaper. What's the rush? Mars isn't going anywhere.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Mike

      Delaying Mars 100 years even will mean nothing in the long run. Mars will be there for BILLIONS of more years. We have time. However, Earth's climate and what we are doing to it is an immediate threat to our way of life and needs our attention NOW. If we do not figure something out we may not be able to explore anything ever again.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • medschoolkid

      I agree Mars isn't going anywhere but in 100 years the situation on Earth will have gone a long way. Why not go to Mars now to start learning how we could live there so we have some kind of backup plan. Terraforming Mars is possible with todays technology but might take 1000 years to complete. I hope we aren't saying we wished we would have started earlier in 1000 years.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  75. widow

    well true...we need space exploration.... Mars... well.. we have bigger concerns... If you haven't noticed we have only explored roughly 5% of the worlds oceans... which means we have 95% to go... so I don't think we are adequately financed to study the worlds oceans in terms of finance or people to do the research.. also we still have Kony and all the other terrible people in the world who commit mass murder on a daily basis.. Plus we have an economic nightmare on our hands and water shortages that create wars worldwide... why can't we explore our own planet and create technologies on our planet for our planet without going to Mars? Why can't we push the envelope without going to Mars? Sure the Moon exploration brought us the PC and countless other technologies.. still at tht time we didn't have the technology to reach the deepest parts of our own planet.. why do we constantly jump for things out of reach and 100's of years away from any type of claiming or colonization of other planets/moons without covering our own planet.. We just figured out how cold antarctic water travels around the world in deep water canyons that create phytoplankton for the worlds sea life to thrive and feed on... If we do not know what our own planet is capable of and how it sustains life to the fullest.. why go to barren mars? Why go to Mars and spend a few trillion trying to get there then using that money to save lives around the world... we cannot even get water to all the people of the world.. people are starving... Just shows how jouranlists/media like you are really really out of touch with what is going on in the world

    April 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • RJ

      Did our nation have no other problems when we went to the moon? Did the explorers who discovered the Americas have no other pressing matters back home?
      To say we shouldn't explore the universe because our backyard is messy is lazy and unreasonable...not to mention close-minded. I think it's possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • docame

      I think, instead, we should explore the depths of your mind. But, then, that would take only a few moments of very shallow breathing, no? I mean, did you even READ the article? I'll bet you didn't. Or maybe you read it whilst yakking to your neighbor about her latest surgery. Whatever the case, I am glad we don't need to depend on your opinion as to whether we should go to Mars. Maybe, we shouold send you there?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Ben Painter

      FYI We have explored a whole lot less then 5% of outer space. Not even 5% of our solar system. Not even 1% of our solar system. If a meteor (possibly aviodable with tech) hits us because we are all look at the oceans that would suck. No one says we need less entomology and more ornithology. So why would you say we need less astronomy and more oceanography. This is a false choise. What we need is more science and things helpful for humanity funded and less WARS.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  76. Anomic Office Drone

    Everyone interested in human exploration of Mars should check out an online show called Pioneer One.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • J0nx

      Thanks for the heads up. I'll be checking that series out.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  77. Sean

    While I'd love to see this happen, I don't believe the U.S. has the will or the drive to make this happen now. These days everthing is either "too hard", "all about me" or boiled down to just "dollars and cents". Nobody cares about inspiration anymore.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  78. disagreement

    Why we shouldn't wait to go to Mars: The reapers are coming

    April 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Dizz

      Yea, and they still wont listen to Commander Shepard. Stoopid Government lol

      April 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Miz

      At this rate we'll never discover the mass relays. :(

      April 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  79. DBC

    "we need to suspend space exploration in order to provide the necessary resources" to provide decent living conditions, including economic stability, to us earthlings first.We may never make it to a time that sustaining a large population on Mars is feasible.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • SirDaBasher

      You sir are an Imbecile

      April 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  80. S-Hug

    What's the point of going to Mars?
    Terraforming? We can't even terraform and save the planet we're living on.
    See if Mars once had life? We should instead stop greenhouse gas emissions on Earth so it doesn't become like Mars (or Venus).
    All this interest in other worlds, while ours is dying. We won't survive long enough to find another Earth. If we do, we'll wreck that planet just like we did this one.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      It's too late to save this planet. Maybe that's why we SHOULD start thinking about other planets soon. It's only a matter of time before we're unable to even BREATHE here on Earth.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
      • Steve

        Buzzer, saying we won't be able to breathe on Earth is going way overboard, especially considering the subject here is Mars, where we absolutely can't breathe (let alone survive the extreme cold). And S-Hug, Mars would be much more habitable to us, temperature-wise, if it had a lot more greenhouse gases; instead it has a very light atmosphere (less than half a percent of the mass of ours).

        April 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • monkeydo

      We stop investing in the space program we use up all the resources on earth and starve to death. Even if we magically fix the environment there will eventually be too many people on the planet scrounging to survive. That's why you invest in the space program. There are 1000 other reasons but that's the most important one. I will gladly throw my money wastefully at the space program then at the military industrial complex.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • RP

      @S-hug We need to go to Mars to satisfy socioeconomic, geopolitical, and scientific goals. (Creating jobs, industries, and technology, creating long-lasting partnerships with foreign nations, and learn whether the human race is capable of existing on another planet.)

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • shawn

      First of all get your science straight. Mars has little to no atmosphere, not loads of green house gases. The writer's main point was that a grand scientific and exploratory goal could benefit this country and the world greatly. More scientists and engineers to solve the problems of our own planet. Many technologies we use today were developed for space travel during the Apollo program, think of what could be discovered/invented and applied to life on Earth.

      The doomsayers wish to hide in their holes and forget how to dream. I, myself, would love to see a nation inspired again.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • LosCar727

      hippy

      April 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  81. JRizz

    And obviously to find the mass effect relays!

    April 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  82. Frank

    Mars??!?! Why not just visit Death Valley or other Great Basin places? Seems silly when you can visit places here on earth just as inhospitable and spend far less money.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      Because these valleys have already been explored and thus, are useless for further examination.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • RealityBites

      You, sir, are uninformed. If you think the terrain of Death Valley adequately mimics the terrain of Mars you are sadly mistaken. At least try and do some research before spouting off complete and utter nonsense.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  83. c smythe

    Do you guys not watch the news? I suppose it is suppressed because funding would disappear. Some of the astronauts have had vision problems relating to duration of time in zero g. There is no way NASA or anybody else is going to spend billions or risk lives on a 3 year mission until that is solved. So, no, we are not going to Mars any time soon . . .

    April 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  84. janerose

    My apologies. Thx for posting comment.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  85. janerose

    Afraid to post my comment? Hahahah! Now I know you must be related to the folks from mars. How telling. Hahahah. Goodluck we will one day hunt you all down and send you back to your rust ball in the sky. Haahahahaha

    April 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Les

      I'm guressing your straight jacket is at the cleaners.....

      April 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  86. heretic2go

    Knowledge and challenge come at a very high cost to a planet whose colossal problems beg to be solved before we venture to Mars and proceed to destroy it as we have Mother Earth.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  87. BillyM67

    I disagree with the article. We should go back to the moon first and establish a base their. Why? It is cheaper (which means it could be done sooner) and will then provide us with a launching point for Mars missions, which reduces their costs. This would also allow us to try long term space missions and their affect on the human mind and body, without the people being millions of miles away. Plus, from a military stand point, we do not want China to have the moon to themselves and they are planning on going their and building a base.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  88. Stop being stupid

    We should have been there 10 years ago.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • SirDaBasher

      Yes , indeed

      April 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  89. janerose

    Mars was inhabited by a race of people that devoured their natural resources. When their atmosphere started to decay they came to earth. Mars lost it's atmosphere and turned into a rust ball. The people that left Mars are here today. Devouring our resources. Earth will turn into a ball of rust. They will fly off under NASA control. That is why there are 2 camps or humans. One protects the planet the others that are the spawn of the mars folk, devour our planet right in front of us. F#*k these mars descendants.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Desiderius

      Evidence please?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Lee Downie

      Brilliant.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • J-Pap

      cool movie

      April 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • ...

      I think someone made a movie about that already, but cool story bro.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  90. Jerry Casaday

    Robert has it right. Think about our space exploration history for a moment. If we had put it off back in the 1960s in favor of everything from oceans research to social programs, our technology would still resemble 1960s tech. Our huge strides in scientific, medical and aerospace research would mostly be dreams seen in science fiction movies. There are tens of millions of people making the case that there are plenty of things the money is better spent on, but a tiny fraction of them who bother to educate themselves about the possible benefits to mankind of continued space exploration, manned and un-manned. And a lot of people known to me personally who are terrified to their core that we will find evidence that life can exist off this rock. Maybe we just aren't evolved to the point that we can handle the knowledge that we are not alone in all the universe; we as a species want to continue sleeping peacefully in our Milky Way Womb, remaining blissfully unaware of all the others out there wondering if they are all there is in the universe.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • cosmos

      I think you should do your science as well and learn that we greedy human are killing our planet and inevitably ourselves... Instead or putting resources into mars, we should be occupied with the whole mess we have caused here, in the earth and try to fit things like the climate change, financial chaos, removable energies... in which planet do you live?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
      • Pop M

        Sure Cosmos, lets start with population control and you... Have you been spayed or neutered?? And before you ask, yes I have.

        April 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  91. Augusto Carballido

    Excellent arguments by Dr. Zubrin. I recently commented on the same topic in my blog: http://www.spacewalking.wordpress.com

    April 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  92. Brendan

    I support Zubrin 100%, it's a true shame we've become such a load of weaklings that sit around debating the merits of space exploration. People of the mid 20th century would barely recognize us, we have grown so spineless and pathetic. No cost is true great, it is the frontier. You bunch of whingy, politically correct patsies.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Farrok

      America no longer has the money for these daydreams. They today are scream they can't pay Social Security let alone Medicare. The American government blew all the money on WAR. Foget Mars. Who cares about Mars when there is nothing to eat and no medical care? The next time you board the subway, tell them ticket agent you want a ticket to Mars as that is as close as you are ever going to get...............................

      April 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • rjp34652

        America is too busy making war upon the innocent, too busy supporting the financial cartel, too corrupt to look beyond picking everyone's pockets, and too busy living in the sewer of fascism to be bothered with the heavens.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
      • Andrew

        These daydreams are what fuels an economy. Without goals(even outlandish ones) things would just stagnate. Its important to stay realistic yes but we do need to fuel our wild side. All we need is more focus on the subject. The problem is we have a lot of trivial diversions such as war, politics, religious discourse and a mindset revolving around money.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
      • JAS

        If you think this country is so bad do something about it or gtfo.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
      • JAS

        Im sorry but hating on the country you live in (assumeing you live in america) is just plain asinine.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
      • TB

        Farrok : you dont live in the US, and you are not a US citizen. You are just someone who lives in the developing world who chooses to blame all of your problems on the US because it's the easy thing to do, and then deride anything the US would like ot do to further it's culture because yours is barely out of the stone age.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Andrew

      People seem to forget America wouldn't exist today without investing in explorers. It was people like Christopher Columbus and Lewis and Clark that discovered things allowing us to colonize new lands and build new civilizations and advance ourselves.

      While we need to be cautious its not good to be completely conservative. Its important that we progress.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  93. DanUK

    Common Cohaagen you got what you want. Give dese people air!!

    April 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Farrok

      Half of America is going hungry daily or are unemployed and are walking around knee deep in garbage and you want to go to Mars? No, you need to go to H..............................................

      April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
      • HL

        Going to Mars will create a lot of new jobs and stimulate the economy! It will also create new technology that will create even more jobs!

        April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
      • John Gunne

        Let them eat cake!

        April 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
      • face

        Think of it this way-we can send the poor to mars so they won't be knee-deep in garbage here, and they'll accomplish something worthwhile in the process
        Just sayin

        April 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
      • Epsilon

        And how does engineers, scientists and others working on space projects affect your food supply? You got enough food and even got lots of people without work. Thus, it is not a shortage of workforce (nor space. In the US, at least...) to supply you with food. Think about how the system works. In short, the key is (among other things) that the currency is spread good enough out to the people and that the system itself works in a way that employs people. It is not so that if the state "use" money on space exploration, you loose the equivalent in food... you get my drift. Space exploration is good for your technological and scientific expertice. Get your people away from computer games and encourage them to pursue a career in science or engineering, and your nation will continue to stay at top in those areas... with all the benefits it brings. For your nation, and for humanity.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
      • Mercury32

        Half of America? Really? Hungry and knee deep in garbage? Huh... I wonder what half that is because it look more like 15% to me. Too high, but not half.

        April 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  94. M. Poivron

    I agree while-heartedly with the "for the knowledge" argument, though I think it's a mistake to focus only on the search for life. I don't understand, however, why colonization of mars should be a target at all. Earth is plenty enough to support all of us, as long as we are careful. We should firt make sure that human life on earth is sustainable in the long run. We're not at a time of kings and conquerers who believed "more land" was the sole measure of value.

    In short : exploring mars = awesome. Colonizing mars = for what purpose ?

    April 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • GH

      Colonizing Mars has a couple of purposes.

      A) I'm sure you've heard the old adage, don't keep all your eggs in one basket. Earth is the basket, and we're the eggs. The next Extinction Level Event that occurs has our name written all over it. Having humans on two planets gives our species a much greater chance of survival (though it's still going to be bad for the people on the wrong planet at the time). Having a second technology and science base means rebuilding the impacted planet can proceed much more quickly because it won't reduce the entire species to the stone age.

      B) Increased economic opportunities. Setting aside the number of jobs created directly servicing the colonization efforts, you'll have new opportunities created here on Earth as people emigrate out leaving their old jobs unfilled. You'd also have whole new sectors cropping up as private companies enter the arena of recovering raw materials from first Mars and then the asteroid belt. Once someone figures out how to make it profitable, private enterprise will sail right past the government in terms of putting people out there.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
      • mema

        That all sounds great in theory but there is one huge problem. If there is no life there and water used to be there but it no longer is, then there is obviously a very good possibility that life on mars is not a viable solution for man. If we can not address our problems on earth for ensuring every man, woman and child has food and clean drinking water how can we consiously throw billion or trillions of dollars into a program with no indications of success! Just saying....

        April 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • JusDav

      Umm, " make sure that human life on earth is sustainable in the long run" well..since we (human life) has been on this planet for oh.. about 200000 yes, how long of a run do you expect for us to "make sure"? just curious as planning for 2000 centruies will take a lot of time... maybe 20 centuries, if all things do not change, which is not possible as everything changes all the time. so... back to the why Mars.. the same reason someone has topped Mt. Everest.. CUZ IT IS THERE!!! Expansion of knowledge gained only by doing the unbelievable.. ie. go to MARS

      cheers M.
      dav

      April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Andrew

      That is an easy answer. For our own survival.

      We will in a very volatile universe and Earth is a target for some nasty space rocks to come hurling down effectively killing us all. We "may" get lucky where a few survive and we are able to restart civilization over the course of a thousand years but there are other things that can kill us off that can be caused by things on Earth.

      Colonizing Mars does several things. One is it puts humans on 2 planets increasing the survival rate of our species greatly since if we lose one planet we can still go on. Mars is a planet! Its loaded with natural resources that we can dig up and produce even more things. Its a stepping stone for us to finally get out of our solar system. Space is super massive and there is just so much out there to explore. It is truly the next frontier and it is in our best interest to get out there.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
      • Tom

        That's so very very wrong.

        It will always be easier to fix the Earth, or to protect the Earth, than to colonize Mars.

        And do you think we would ever simply say "Hay, let all the people on the Earth die, Mars will survive" or "Hay, let all the people on Mars die, Earth will survive"?

        April 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • Mister Jones

        Wouldn't colonizing the oceans accomplish this goal as well? And not cost us trillions in the process. The oceans are closer. They are filled with food, and they are made of water. So instead of bringing either of those with us, we'd be surrounded by it. It'd be easier to extract breathable gasses from the water, or pump it down. Both options are easier than, again, bringing it with us. We gain very little from having a colony 50 million miles away, but the idea of putting one under the oceans is a little more feasible. And doesn't the ocean cover 75% of this planet anyway?

        April 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  95. SoundGuy

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEkyaWAR2x0&w=640&h=390]

    April 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • EJC

      I agree with the soundman, legalize it!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • SoundGuy

        Ha ha!

        April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  96. mecha

    So.. What you are saying, is that you cannot provide any quantifiable benefit, but only anecdotal?

    If I were deciding funding and this was the argument, I can see why mars exploration is not a priority.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  97. Jon

    Waste of money. Robots can do anything a human can and for cheaper. You don't have to bring robots back from mars. It would cost over 100 billion dollars to send someone to mars and bring them back.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Just sayin'

      Robots have to be too specialized to get worthwhile data in an environment like Mars. They just aren't versatile enough to be able to do everything that a human being can do. Think of it like an automobile assembly line: robots can be designed to do a few things over and over again so you need a factory full of different robots to build a car from scratch – one to cut steel, one to weld, one to install windshields, one to install seats, one to paint, etc. One human being can do all those things thanks to the versatility we have built into us. If you were to add up the costs of multiple robotic missions to accomplish a handful of tasks each, how would it compare to one manned mission where all those tasks and more could be accomplished?

      April 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
      • Steve

        You can build a versatile robot. Or you can send multiple specialized robots. You can't, however, send humans without vast life support resources - food, oxygen, plants, fertilizer, tools, a whole lot of water, ways to survive the climate of Mars, doctors, surgeons, medical equipment, etc. etc. Robots could get by with batteries and solar panels. Perhaps have them set up a nuclear power plant for their energy needs. But anyway, is all this even necessary? What resources does Mars have that are so valuable that it would be worth the astronomical costs of setting up this base and shipping goods across tens of millions of miles?

        April 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • medschoolkid

      There are actually scientists lining up to go to Mars without the expectation of coming home, at least for a very long time. Their goal would be to create a self-sufficient community, one goal of which would be to try to discover a way to fuel a rocket back home with raw materials collected on Mars.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  98. EarthBound

    Just look at that illustration.
    They are having so much fun without air, water, and trees.
    I cant wait till alot of people move to mars.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  99. PA

    Great article. NASA is severely underfunded. We need to start grabbing people from stupid reality shows and hollywood crap and put Space exploration at the forefront again, or at least keep trying. There is a huge amount of discovery out there just waiting, yet, a majority of people need to know what kim kardashian is doing.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • baldeagleteam

      Great Article – agreed. Perhaps NASA is underfunded because the whole world is excited about humans touching down on Mars but NASA doesn't have the faith to believe it. We are waiting for NASA to join the rest of us. If they commit to sending people to Mars in the next 10 to 15 years then the funds will come rolling in – I am sure it will. We all want it. There are more than enough resources to cover all the other areas of earth / ocean science. As was alluded to in the article the space bucks will more than pay for the program in advances in the future. What is life without a dream?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
      • RealityBites

        Yet another person who says "NASA isn't trying hard enough!". Are you serious? Have you ever heard/read any of the research NASA has done on getting someone to Mars and/or the Moon colony? I'm pretty sure we've had plans and ideas for well over two decades for doing both of those. But without funding they become nothing more than pipe-dreams.

        Who wants to spend money on going to Mars or a Moon colony when we can just bomb some guys living in the Middle East because they have some oil we want and a different God (which, curiously enough actually is the SAME God as the Christian God) that they pray to?

        April 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  100. justathought

    I have a question: But first, I believe there is other life in the universe, not so sure about our solar system, even very dubious that there is other life in our solar system. Just because all life on earth is dependent on water does that conclude that all life outside of our planet is dependent on water?

    April 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • PA

      Not necessarily, however, presence of water is a strong indicator of carbon based life. There could be minerals/elements way out in other galaxies that we have no idea about, but as it stands now, water is one of the best indicators of life as we know it.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • GH

      As PA said, not necessarily. But, it's generally easier to find something if you know what it looks like. There may very well be silicate based life (for example) but it would so, if you'll pardon the pun, alien to our way of thinking, we may not recognize it until it, literally, bites us on the foot.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • GSF

      We'll never know until we get out there and take a look around. How I wish I could stick around for another few hundred / thousand years to see what's discovered.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • baldeagleteam

      Just another thought. What are the ramifications if there is shown to be absolutely no life on Mars? Surely life on earth, on average, means life must be found on other planets / planetoids? If not then can we extrapolate that there is no life outside of the earth? That would be strange. But of course that's why we must go to Mars. We humans want to know.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
      • GH

        The lack of life on Mars doesn't mean much in terms of the possibility of life outside our solar system. It just means there's no life on Mars. Finding life on Mars would be a huge shot in the arm for the idea of extraterrestrial life, but not finding it just means we're not looking in the right places. We'll have to refine our idea of what a habitable planet is, but that's all.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • long wang

      First let's establish that life is a very sophisticated phenomena, and a solution for the evolution of living things like those . on earth is not easy to come by. DNA and protein based life already provides a solution that we know of. Now, with the knowledge that planets with the bases for such life form could be abundant in the universe, you are talking about looking for a totally different solution for life, which we have no idea about what so ever, in the universe? That's not very productive.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
1 2 3

Contributors

  • Elizabeth LandauElizabeth Landau
    Writer/Producer
  • Sophia DengoSophia Dengo
    Senior Designer