August 6th, 2012
12:53 PM ET

What's our fascination with Mars?

When you look up basic information on Mars on NASA's website, in the field for the name of the discoverer, it says "known by the ancients." Unlike Neptune, and the no-longer-a-planet Pluto, Mars has always figured in to the way we understand our solar system.

If you know what to look for in the sky, the reason why is obvious enough: Mars is visible to the naked eye, and clearly red. It's also close: our ability to see it so easily attests to the relative nearness of the planet.

Pop culture is loaded with references to Mars: witness movies with titles like "Mission to Mars" (2000) and "Red Planet," (2000) documentaries like NOVA's "Can we make it to Mars?", not to mention numerous science fiction stories like Ray Bradbury's 1950s "The Martian Chronicles," and non-fiction books like "The Case for Mars," and of course "Packing for Mars," which both explore what it would take to send not just a robotic analog for humanity, but actual living, breathing people.

Mary Roach, author of “Packing for Mars”, finds her fascination with Mars is a lot more personal.

"I picture myself in the landscape, sitting on a rock in this or that panorama shot, and what that would feel like, be like. The more real the images become, the more it fascinates me."

At 1:31 a.m. eastern on Monday, August 6, our fascination with Mars continued when the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, or Curiosity) landed on the Red Planet. It's not the first rover humans have sent to Mars: NASA has been sending robotic emissaries since Viking 1 landed in 1976.

NASA's rover Curiosity lands on Mars

Because Curiosity is the latest in a long line of Mars-bound spacecraft, this mission begs the question: Why do we seem to love it so much?

@CNNLightyears posed the question to many asking people why they love Mars. The responses on Twitter and Facebook varied in details, but the gist of them was effectively the same.

Cindie Hurley, a space enthusiast, sums it up via Facebook: "It's the 'new world' of space... If the moon was an offshore island, well Mars is that distant's only the FIRST step in a much bigger journey. If we can get there, then maybe, just maybe, we can get to the next destination."

Mars, even with its inhospitable atmosphere and barren landscape, is the closest analog to Earth that we're aware of.

James Wray, an assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech who collaborated on Curiosity's SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) suite of instruments, tells us, "It's the most "Earth-like" planet we've yet found, with mountains, canyons, dry river valleys, rocks, sand and dust of compositions and appearances not unlike those here at home. The surface is cold, but at times no colder than Earth's polar regions."

"There is water in the clouds and polar ice caps, and a day is only slightly longer than Earth's 24 hours. Every day is sunny (well, except during major dust storms), with pale rose-colored skies instead of the Moon's harsh black," he says.

Basically, life could survive on Mars but we couldn't survive on, say, Venus, the other nearest planet to Earth. Even though Venus has both an atmosphere and is about the same size as Earth, the air is toxic and the pressure at the surface is such that we'd be crushed, a fate met by some early Russian robotic explorers. Oh, and it's hot enough to melt lead on the surface.

Mars could be our next home. And it's important to us to find out as much as we can about it, not just to further our knowledge of the formation of our solar system and our own planet, but to prepare ourselves to become a multi-planet species, as SpaceX's Elon Musk has hoped for aloud, in interviews.

Mary Roach concludes, "...Mars is close enough to feel reachable, yet far enough away to seem utterly foreign and exotic and mysterious."

Check out Mars complete coverage on @CNNLightYears

Do you love Mars? Tell us why in the comments.

Post by:
Filed under: In Space • Mars
soundoff (508 Responses)
  1. katesisco

    Since the Mars team has claimed a big 'surprise' coming one might guess it is either H2O or evidence of respiration but that would require a measurement of prior usage not available. If microbial life was identified on Mars consuming O2, it would mean that a source of O2 was available at what ever rate the microbes consumed ox if indeed they were consuming ox. instead of carbon di or methane. Extrapolating on this would be duplicating conditions or capturing the o2 thus depriving the microbes of the source hence killing the life that has held out for 4 billion years, to allow humans a source of ox on the planets surface. Of course, if this o2 or any other gas was generated by a compressive wave from outside the planetary body, then it would not be sustainable.

    November 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  2. katesisco

    Nov 24, 2012 and NASA has said 'surprise' is coming. Well, here on E science has already found microbes in the deep sea bed that are improbably ancient. They are alive but just barely; science says they may only be alive on a period of millions of years. Here:

    What this says is that life existing on Mars would be comparable.

    November 24, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  3. Pepinium

    Reading a lot of these posts is really depressing and brings home the tragedy that a moron's vote is worth the same as that of an educated person. Hopefully the space program will advance fast enough to allow us to colonize other places where societies will be developed selectively and do not have to carry the dead weight that we do here on Earth. That is what Asimov predicted, that the real accomplishments of the human species would not be realized until that necessary step in our evolution can be taken. Beam Me Up Scotty !! and never never never bring me back to this cesspool of a planet !!!

    August 13, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  4. Marvin the Martian

    Curiosity killed the cat. When the curious eventually bring germy samples back to Earth, get ready for a plague. All heck will break loose, and then they will declare Martian Law. Leave it to humans to krap and leave, and then go looking for a new place to krap up. Just like tourists.

    August 10, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  5. spacematters

    Here's the thing, for anyone who wishes to think beyond your lifetime, or your offspring's lifetime.
    Besides running out of fuel, besides global warming, our Sun will one day go out. Yes, it will be a very, very long time from now, but a civilization needs time to get to a technological level to be able to escape off-planet and learn to adapt to another planetary environment. If we put it off and put it off and put it off, you know how the saying goes – that, hindsight, time flies – then one day will come a very, very long time from now when we'll be thinking why didn't our ancient ancestors think of the future? Why didn't we see other planets in other solar systems as our next home? Instead, the Sun will go out and Humanity with it. So, whatever you think, consider that to get to where we need to be when that happens, we need to take the baby steps we have been taking to get there. We'd still be living on a flat planet and at the center of the solar system had it not been for the great thinkers. We could be behind in the timeline necessary to escape from here if we do not explore the solar system and beyond, and tinker with things, and study things. Yes, on the surface, it seems like we're just a bunch of kids exploring for the sake of exploring, but at the core of it is our survival as a species. If you know 100% that your home will be destroyed in x number of years, would you not prepare to find a new home? Learning Mars, to eventually live on Mars, is a step. By that point, we will locate a new planet in a new solar system that could sustain us. Then, we'll be driven to develop technology to get us there. It has to happen.

    August 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  6. Fr33th1nk3r

    "What's our fascination with Mars?"
    Well, for starters, most geologists estimate we have anywhere from 1 to 2 centuries worth of petroelum left before our societies literally run out of gas. And that is at our current population, not the 300% increase in population expected within the next century.
    The world's population passed the point where we don't have enough room to feed all those people decades ago. Global warming is making the climate more unstable and causing droughts and major changes in the world's ecosystems, which in turn causes more starvation and hunger. WHich in turn creates more wars and sectarian confilcts.
    Stephen Hawking was absolutely correct in his assessment, that humanity needs to get off this rock soon, or we are on the fast track to extinction.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  7. SwimLikeAFish

    As a more expedient use of NASA money, commenters like to focus on 'feeding hungry children' as if that's our biggest problem in the U.S. It's nowhere near our biggest problem. So the pro-Mars groups focus on that issue and win the argument. HERE ARE OUR BIGGER PROBLEMS THAT COULD USE THE MONEY: a) Muslim extremists that think it's their God-given duty to kill non-Muslims and persecute women; b) Global Climate Change that wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and could threaten life as we know it; c) Depletion of fossil fuels and lack of alternatives to power our lives, heat our homes, etc. d) Water, water, water

    August 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  8. Shepard

    I'm eagerly awaiting the moment when Curiosity finds a Prothean beacon. :)

    August 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  9. Usher73

    Don't forget Edgar Rice Burroughs and "The Princess of Mars"

    August 7, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  10. todd

    Learning to Live on Mars for a long time, will help us survive on earth with less pollution, and better use of energy.
    Assuming Mars has always been lifeless, there isn't any Oil on Mars, energy will need to be collected in different ways and efficiently, because we will need external energy just to breath, let alone grow food. Collect and purify water...
    Mars is the perfect test bed, for teaching us how to adapt in a world with less resources.

    August 7, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • SwimLikeAFish

      The problem with that argument is that Mars is just really really far away. We don't need to go all the way to Mars to figure out how to live with fewer resources. We just need to make that effort here and now. We need to cut our population, get rid of fossil fuels, eat less meat, exercise more, conserve precious water resources, etc. These are not politically expedient so, instead, we think we have to go to Mars or wherever to learn these lessons. WE KNOW THE ANSWERS TO OUR PROBLEMS BUT WE JUST DON'T WANT TO HEAR THEM BECAUSE THEY AREN'T FUN AND THEY REDUCE THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  11. Cayce

    I'm just as fascinated & curious, if not more so, as the most fascinated & curious of us. There is something profoundly disturbing, though, in a long-range sense, about a species of life (us) which has been given the perfect place to live and an abundance of intelligence to protect it, yet instead of concentrating our energies & resources toward taking care of our home planet, are apparently content to see it destroyed and made uninhabitable, in the desperate hope that we'll find something 'sustainable' out in the hostile environment of space. It would be interesting to see all the interest, ingenuity and money poured into the fantasy of creating a habitable world somewhere else applied instead to creating a habitable world right here where we are, on Earth. Once that's been accomplished, we can go out and play in the cosmos at our leisure.

    August 7, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  12. Jerry4Christ

    I love mars because it is the hand work of God Almighty not man!

    August 7, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  13. james

    The real reson they want to go to Mars is to find some seeds of the Thing and bring them back to Earth.

    August 7, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  14. nightsky30

    I want to go to mars:D so i can be an ancient alien!!

    August 7, 2012 at 6:02 am |
  15. Brad Alexander

    "What is our fascination with Mars???". Ummm. Is the editor here the same person that keeps trying to put Kirsten Stewart and the Harry Potter guy on the front page? Maybe you should be giving us news rather than asking us to post it for you. Think about it. Can't wait to see you put Linday Lohan on the front page when she gets arrested again. Thanks for all the amazing coverage.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:36 am |
  16. orb

    Many pros&cons here. Its strange how all techology is the result of warfare and trade. In a short time of human development say 100 years from now our problems will be 1000 fold to what they are today. So we can either advance or kill over half of the population from nuclear war and go back to the dark ages. We have progressed slowly since the Apollo missions and that is a shame to all of us. Sure we know more of the cosmos and computer technology and the internet has connected most of the world. Space is the final frontier and the most dangerous of all human endevours but it is necessary if we want to expand our humanity. It will take the combine effort of all to achieve our greatest accomplishments. But we fight over which God is the best and over sacred lands of our ancestors and who has a right to live. In order to advance it will take everyone to make it happen. I would say that is the greatest leap of them all.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  17. Goliath

    Waste of time really. Find a cure for cancer first before to jump all over Mars! So what if there is water or life on Mars? We are not going to live there! There is life out there; you don't need to spend a dime to know that. If you love this prohect so much, feel free to mail NASA an contribution. No...? The truth is in front of you....

    August 7, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • MOCaseA

      So who's to say there isn't some microbe on Mars, or some fragment of usable DNA, that contains the right protein combination to permanently cure all cancers? Also, while you see it as spending billions for a pointless task, many see it as a worthwhile investment. So it takes four months to reach Mars. OK. Ten years ago it took almost 14 months to reach Mars. Seems to me our sub-atmospheric understanding of propulsion has advanced quite a bit. Voyager has left the known solar system. It took 22 years. Now we are projecting it only taking 5 years to reach the same distance... So who is to say that in another 22 years we won't have found a way to safely travel at near light speeds? Then Mars would be a few hours, instead of a few months, away. There is another satellite on its way there to test the atmosphere itself. If is is breathable, can be made breathable, or we can utilized parts of it to make breathable air, then it is only a short (a few years) step to colonizing.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:30 am |
      • Goliath

        Ok...thanks for the response. As a joke, have you seen the Species movie? The used alien DNA on human cells and it was the end....

        August 7, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  18. mikel_artist

    waste of money..........

    August 7, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • grumpymedic

      mikel_artist = waste of perfectly good oxygen

      August 7, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  19. Donkey Party

    Name*terry – It's organized religion that's phucked-up things so badly here on Earth. Let's not ruin Mars too.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:10 am |
  20. Chan

    The first video has come in..and u guys still showing yesterdays stuff.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  21. KEVIN2121961

    Scientists are very anal about making projections. But everything we know about Mars now, there is about a 99% chance that we will find microbial life on Mars and fossils of more advanced life using this large and super advanced rover.. These Scientists would not be spending 6+ yrs. of their life building this thing if they were not very sure of finding at least microbial life on Mars and fossils.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  22. Name*terry

    I would like to be the first preacher or moral consultant on mars so that we could start things off right this time and not screw up like on earth; maybe even the first presdent!

    August 7, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • MOCaseA

      Seems to me that the biggest mistake we made on Earth was allowing religion to dictate, or even influence, politics.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  23. Donkey Party

    Mars is cool, but Uranus is pretty special too.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  24. jon

    Hmmmm...easy question to answer. It's the closest planet that has a chance of humans being able to visit. Also that we could send our nano-machines so we can have a real life death star.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  25. Chris

    Why am I fascinated by Mars? Why were we fascinated with the moon? Human beings are curious creatures. We want to know what's over the horizon. We've been to the moon. Mars is that next horizon, the next step in slaking our unquenchable thirst for knowledge and discovery.

    People are inspired by great things, and landing human beings on another planet would be one of the greatest. One cannot place a price tag on the hopes and dreams of an entire species. Neil Armstrong was not just waxing poetic when he spoke of taking a giant leap for mankind, as on that day, humanity had achieved something spectacular. I, for one, want to be there when all of mankind takes its next giant leap.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  26. amac

    We're fascinated with Mars because once upon a time we thought there was intelligent life on the planet, but it proved not to be so...... just like Earth.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:48 am |
  27. grumpymedic

    SO many ignorant right-wing republitards posting here. They'd MUCH rather spend trillions on WAR, killing, destruction, runaway military spending and greedy corporate money grubbing than any actual furthering of human scientific knowledge. What a bunch of unintelligent, invisible-man-in-the-clouds-worshipping clowns. .

    August 7, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • KEVIN2121961

      grumpy; Are you a NASA supporter? Actuallly Corporations can make a ton of money supporting NASA. As long as NASA takes big risks,

      August 7, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  28. Reccenters


    August 7, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  29. $tillRun!

    "Howdy, stranger! this is Hauser. If things have gone wrong Im talking to myself and you don't have a wet towel around your head. Now what ever your name is, get redy for the big surprise."

    August 7, 2012 at 4:22 am |
  30. KEVIN2121961

    I'm almost exclusively interested in geo-politics, but this super risky NASA mission trumps everything for me. I can't believe they got away landing this thing successfuly. From all I read and with the history of failure of previous much lower tech. Mars landings (only 1 in 3 land successfully – 65% of them crash). I gave this super complicated landing about a 10% chance of landing successfuly. NASA took a huge risk and it worked. GO NASA

    August 7, 2012 at 4:14 am |
  31. KEVIN2121961


    August 7, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  32. Mark, The WebMaster

    In 1997, I discovered the second face on Mars at Cydonia which I consider to represent a member of the Anunnaki.

    Decide for yourself what it means:

    August 7, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • KEVIN2121961

      Mark, it means you need to get an updated telescope and spend more time on the NASA web site.

      August 7, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  33. Humph

    When MARS ((ATTACKS!!))

    August 7, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • KEVIN2121961

      If the Martians were planning to attack us, they are definately going to do it now after we pulled off this stunt – it is quite intimidating.

      August 7, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  34. Joe

    intergrated circuits, video game joysticks, GPS. the list goes on and on, i just wanted to say some big hitters. Nasa has averaged a return of $7 to the economy for every $1 spent so money spent should not be an issue people. Nasa has created money for the economy on almost every single mission. I say almost because I dont have the stats for every one. Very few other companies, businesses, or countries on this planet have that kind of track record. I really am hanging my head in shame for all you people who have no ability or will to research something before condemming it.

    August 7, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • Joe

      Somehow I cut half my message, other notable contributions from Nasa, LED's, mammography systems, MRI's, Memory foam, implanted insulin pumps, heart assistance devices.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:19 am |
      • Goliath

        How about the Mars mission? Any returns on that thingie...?

        August 7, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  35. midasgem

    That is a stupid question. If we colonized mars and earth suffers a massive extinction. We would continue. That is just one reason.

    August 7, 2012 at 3:09 am |
  36. migeli

    Exploring space creates jobs, inspires new ideas,and leads to new inventions that improve our lives.Those who think otherwise just don't have a clue.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Goliath

      Feel free to send NASA a check to help them further... No...? ok...

      August 7, 2012 at 5:21 am |
      • grumpymedic

        Feel free to send Iraqis and Afghans billions to rebuild their countries after you've bombed them for years before Obama came into office. No? Okay.

        August 7, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  37. Sean

    If there is a place that could theoretically be walked on by man that can't physically be reached by a man in the flesh, I think that some degree of curiosity and interest is bound to spring up almost naturally. Additionally, in the case of Mars, I think the science fiction genre has definitely had a major hand in creating interest in the fourth planet from the Sun. Basically, until you know everything about a place, some hidden elements remain, and hence, the curiosity of individuals is piqued.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  38. migeli

    Send congress to Mars. The dems will try to find a way back.The teatards will fight them every step of the way.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • grumpymedic

      I prefer to send the teatards to the Sun.

      August 7, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  39. maltesefalconx9

    Another thing: Pluto is still a planet, a small planet. And like the other planets it has a twin.
    All the planets have a twin. Mercury and the Moon, Venus and Earth, Mars and the asteroid belt, Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and finally Pluto and Charon. Also, because they also are associated in groups of four, there are probably two other small planets farther out of a similar size to Pluto. Is this worth spending billions of dollars on to investigate? No.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • migeli

      Everyone else knows that Pluto's twin is Goofy. Just not identical twins but this "is"worth investigating.Maybe get DeputyDog "on the case!

      August 7, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Chris

      No. It isn't. Pluto is a dwarf-planet- merely a large Kupier belt object. Were it an actual planet, it would not be so far off the solar orbital plane. It is also likely not the largest of the Kupier belt objects either. Is it worth spending money to send a satellite to study it as a portion of its mission? Yes, I think it would be.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:20 am |
      • Joe

        Kuiper belt is how it is spelled, don't forget the icy world Eris that is out there too, but I bet most people have not heard of that or the oort cloud.

        August 7, 2012 at 3:25 am |
      • MOCaseA

        Actually there is already a satellite on it's way to Pluto (ETA is July 2015) as part of a larger mission.

        August 7, 2012 at 4:19 am |
      • Chris

        Most probably have not, and that is a horrific indictment of the state of science education in the United States.

        I would be interested to know what, if anything, the Voyager crafts might be able to see out there. I know they're reading weird fluctuations in solar radiation, but that's all I've read about them finding thus far.

        August 7, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • MOCaseA

      I posted a reply to this before. But I'm not going to copy and paste, like some here do...

      Long and short: Your post lacks any sort of real research, your "facts" are delusional at best, and your conclusions are far from below even common sense.

      Next time you want to post something like this do a little research. You might be surprised what REAL facts you find, and you might even learn something...

      August 7, 2012 at 3:49 am |
  40. Burt Way

    Some love it, some hate it. Therfore, I think there should be Optional Fed government programs. That means I can opt out of funding the useless Dept of Education at about $75 Billion per year. Which is $750 Billion over the last decade. This Mars thing cost 3 billion ? Although I am not an enthusiast of this Mars probe, at least it accompllshed something. Can someone tell me the achievements of the Dept of Education after spending 250 times as much? It does not pay for techers in our classrooms.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • Burt Way

      Yes I know it is "teachers".

      August 7, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  41. maltesefalconx9

    What are THEY hiding about Venus?

    August 7, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • migeli

      Mitts tax returns are stored in a crater there.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:30 am |
      • grumpymedic

        His brain is a crater.

        August 7, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  42. Rotboy

    What's our fascination with Mar's, It's our long Fascination with the Unknown, the What If, the Extraterrestrial life, Intelligence and the shire beauty of the mind wondering are we Alone, and in conclusion, We Are Not!

    August 7, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  43. mmi16

    The Space Program has been the underlying core of our economic progress since the 60's. The technologies that were developed to solve the problems associated with space exploration have been the foundations of all the technologies we accept as commonplace today, and the industries that were generated to manufacture these technologies have been among those that are generating the wealth to continue the economy.

    Since we have diminished our investment in Space Exploration – the general economy has gone into the tank – the 'best & brightest' that would have been attracted to space type project became enamored in how to build financial instruments that had no intrinsic value, made their creator rich and eliminated true value from the economy – The Wall Stree Thieves of the middle 2000's.

    For too many years we have been penny wise and mega-dollar foolish in not investing in the space program.

    I got to see mans first steps on the Moon. My childern, now in their 30's have never had that opportunity. SAD SAD SAD!

    August 7, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  44. ....

    Reading these comments, I wish people would stop being so narrow-minded and ignorant. They just see it as a way to waste money. They cannot have a sense of curiosity and wonder. To them, anything outside of our pale blue dot doesn't matter. Imbeciles...

    August 7, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • Goliath

      We know there has got to be life like us our there. However, now is not the time to invest in the space mission. We have bigger problems right now on Earth like cancer and proverty to address and resolve before we do these side missions...

      August 7, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  45. maltesefalconx9

    Odd coincidence that Amerikans are fascinated with Mars, the planet named after the Roman god of war.
    Of course, this was chosen by the government without any vote by the people.
    Venus, the planet associated with the goddess of love, has been declared off limits by the same government.
    The psychopaths who run things in Jeffersonville would rather fight than engage in romantic activities.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  46. lexgreen

    We should have taken the money and spent a few more months occupying Iraq, instead of wasting it on a mission to Mars.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • migeli

      But---thre may be weapons of mass destruction on Mars! Try to keep abreast of things willya? They might zap you with a zorch ray.Then you'll be toast and unable to gat us back to Iraq jack.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  47. Minks Kanaan Smith

    It is great to see NASA on another successful mission since the loss of the shuttle program!

    August 7, 2012 at 2:09 am |
  48. Norm

    Ahhh yes....go read through the comments and see how many people have brought their politics to yet another article that doesn't deserve the garbage.
    It's a sickness.
    You can't find a single article on this entire website that doesn't have back and forth partisan bickering.
    They have all of you right where they want you.
    Mass mind control by the media.
    What a lovely experiment.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  49. Jay

    I'm not facinated with it. I think it's stupid, NO WAY can that planet be inhabited, you can't even breathe on it without oxygen in a space suit and no one wants to live in an enclosed oxygenated bubble. It's an ungly planet, NO trees, greenery, nature, oceans, etc., NO WAY anyone would/could ever live there what a waste of money, it even takes eight months to get there, no one would do that!

    August 7, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Jay

      Typo: I know it's spelled "fascinated".

      August 7, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • migeli

      It takes 8 months to get there? I dont think my dog will last on the roof of my car that long.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:00 am |
      • Jay

        Yup, the lack of oxygen in space and the 13,000 mph would probably do your dog in.

        August 7, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • migeli

      Whataya mean? Housing is very affordable there and lots of privacy.Not a neighbor for miles.No trailor trash.Close to shopping centers.Good schools! Get a good realtor and check it out.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  50. migeli

    Ever notice Mitt has a third eye.Look real close!

    August 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  51. pockets

    Religion will turn Mars not into another safe place to live but another killing ground.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • migeli

      Religion will straighten those little greenies right out. Teach them to wear clothes and have proper manners and all.Then teach them how to be bigoted, mean, spiteful,greedy and selfish just like the Tea Party here on earth.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  52. JS

    Nobody cares about Mars. People only react to the stupidity of the media. It's so nice that a $billion car (or whatever it is) is driving around Mars – while millions are sleeping on the streets of America. If that thing was there building houses for all the homeless- then, maybe, it'd be worth something. Other than that-who gives a crap?

    August 7, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • MOCaseA

      You rant and rail about the homeless of America, but here is a question... What have YOU done to help them? Have you looked into helping Habitat for Humanity? Have you donated time and money into Food Banks and Soup Kitchens? Have you done anything but rant and rail about it? Probably not...

      August 7, 2012 at 3:53 am |
      • Goliath

        Look in the mirror and ask yourself the same thing please. The truth will liberate you.

        August 7, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • grumpymedic

      JS=another pointless whiner who hasn't done anything for anyone except whine and complain. The Space Program, on the other hand, HAS created jobs, new technologies, new discoveries that have helped science and has given hope to the American people. Meanwhile, fools like JS just continue to whine and complain. Maybe they should stop worrying about the 1 or 2 billion dollars for the ENTIRE space program and start worring about the TRILLIONS of dollars wasted on the WARS the repukitards created!

      August 7, 2012 at 4:37 am |
      • Goliath

        The space program is suppose to have great positive benifits, yet the government is cutting its budget in it drastically...? Something not right here...

        August 7, 2012 at 5:32 am |
  53. blinky

    Mars is not and could not be "our new home." Apart from lacking the right atmosphere, the problem is gravity. Maybe you could artificially induce Earth's gravity on some small spots, but not broadly across the planet.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • migeli

      If you want atmosphere try Ruth's Down and Dirty Dance Palace.Forget Mars!

      August 7, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  54. migeli

    Then when the Martians come here Mitt will strap a couple on his wifes two Cadillacs and they will both go right on trucking.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  55. Logan

    I think its great we landed this vehicle on mars. I am so proud of our space industry. We need to make more progress in travelling to other planets so hopefully future generations have some options.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  56. migeli

    Pretty soon beings from all the corners of the universe will be coming her for medicaid and handouts from the government but they will be sadly disappointed they won't get the kind of government hand-outs Michele Bachman and the oil companies get.And congress.Talk about hand-outs? Those people come to work twice a year.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  57. reccenters

    live curiosity cam

    August 7, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • MOCaseA

      Nice vid of a bunch of lazy kids playing a video game. Obviously it took a lot of effort for them to be so horrible at playing it.

      BTW, no I didn't watch the vid, just looked at the source and read the comments. Nothing to add to your Views counter... So haha...

      August 7, 2012 at 5:18 am |
  58. /sigh

    are people really that dumb to not know? it is the closest planet that we can explore by ground within the suns sustainable life orbit.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  59. migeli

    Next the Martians will be coming here to take our jobs and get on welfare and medicaid.Then we will have to issue green cards to green beings.Plus they may eat many of us.But that will help with th unemployment problem.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  60. migeli

    If Mitt gets elected the wealthy will keep their tax cuts and all the jobs will be outsourced to Martians.Next you will call your bank and instead of getting a voice with an earthly Asian accent you will have some little green monster helping you out with bleep language.The you will be very,very sorry.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Jake

      and obama has already outsourced our space shuttle to the Russians!

      August 7, 2012 at 1:20 am |
      • nigel

        How did I know someone would blame Obama for a successful Mars landing?

        August 7, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  61. nala777

    NASA spin-off technologies – GOOGLE IT. Idiots.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Goliath

      Ok! But what does this Mars mission spin-off?

      August 7, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  62. migeli

    I thought God made "Mars Bars"so we would have places to hang out,but you have to get there somehow.This explains everything.Now if Mitt would pay his taxes we'd have extra money for drinks.You see how simple it all is?

    August 7, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  63. Man

    Nasa should have the biggest budget of all the federal programs. The amount of technology and understanding that flow from projects like this are worth far more than we spend, measured in both tangibles and intangibles.

    For those of you too ignorant too see the grand value in exploration: turn off your computer, turn off the tv, don't use a digital camera, no cell phones, no commercial flights, eat only fresh food, no diapers for your kids. I could go on for days but you still wouldn't get it.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  64. more2bits

    Were fascinated with Mars because were dumb.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • nigel

      We're so dumb we've never even heard of the apostrophe...

      August 7, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Jay

      And you're so dumb you don't know that the word is spelled: "we're", NOT were.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  65. migeli

    We can feed the elderly and take care of the sick and still go to Mars if we take back the tax cuts from the rich like it used to be and people here had the jobs the greedy rich outsourced to other countries and socked all their money away in Switzerland like Mitt did.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  66. Dave

    So, this is how I see it.
    Albert Pujols,the most payed MLB player has a contract for 240 MILLION dollars.
    He is flesh and blood.
    If you had a MLB team with around 14 of them playing, A YEAR it is about the same amount as what we spent on the Curiosity.
    SO would you rather spend the money on flesh and bone to see them HIT A BALL TO GO HUNDREDS of feet to feel that it is important...

    Oh, and about the whole bad picture / no live video landing.....
    People get p*ssed off for losing cell phone signal from the tower only MILES AWAY...

    (shake my head)

    August 7, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  67. migeli

    Open some new banks on the Red Planet,so Mitt has another place to hide his money!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  68. UsinUS

    Are we running out of space on earth???
    Nasa spends billions and billions of $$ on mission to mars or the space. What good does it do? May be just the space station has some benefit..but y mars or the moon? God probably designed humans for earth or earth for humans.. Now why would human reach out to see if its habitable Or not? Even if man could survive on mars, it would probably be in an astronaut suit which we would end up wearing 24/7/365. Come on it was a big leap landing on the moon.. Hurray!! Lets just leave it there... why spend so much money for so many unpurposeful missions. If that money could be distributed on earth to much needed people, earth would be a better place to live. The article itself points out how uninhabitable the other planets are. Worry about the planet we already have! Get real.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • nigel

      $2.5 billion if distributed equally to all the people on earth would be something like 25 cents each. Doesn't go very far, does it? But it gets you to Mars, and inspires a whole generation to do such great things. To paraphrase the ads, priceless.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  69. Josh

    Yes this is a complete waste of money. Please also go right now and run directly into traffic. To think your also voting, holy he11.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  70. Paul

    According to the tea party, the government should do as little as possible and spend as little as possible. With that logic, if the tea party (which is now essentially the GOP) ran the country, we would have no space program – unless it somehow involved war and national defense. Then of course it would be ok.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  71. Peg - AZ

    What's our fascination with Mars? -Martians of course

    August 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  72. lulu




    August 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • nigel

      Yo, all the money was spent on earth. Providing a lot of jobs. And the people who are thus employed aren't rich; they don't stash all their income in gold and shady accounts in the Cayman Islands. They spend it on houses, cars, food, coffee, etc. which in turn employ more people. I have no doubt there are some very good taco trucks in the neighborhood of JPL, and the hardworking people running those aren't complaining. What goes around comes around.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  73. KSK

    CNN commenters are truly appalling excuses for people. Realize that we've spent nearly $4 TRILLION dollars on the Iraq war. That's $4,000,000,000,000. Compare that to the NASA budget: About $18.7 billion.
    $4,000,000,000,000 to go kill people and get killed by people, versus $18,700,000,000 per year to further our understanding of the universe and advance technology and education in the world.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  74. illuminated Genius

    Well it is a shame that we have so many problems in the world, maybe if we actually had peace in our world we would have had a man mission to Mars already and followed up the biggest trip for humans since the 1969 Moon landing. I would love to see the day that human beings finally get to explore a new planet outside of the Earth. But from the way it is going now i will not get to see the day, with the exception of Mars robotic rovers going over the planet.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  75. Rafa

    All you people here blasting NASA for spending 3 billion dollars on this amazing experiment/project/adventure (whatever you want to call it) only meant to benefit mankind; and yet you don't say anything about the GAZILLIONS of dollars The USoA has spent on wars around the world over the last couple of decades. Incredible.
    I think that's exactly part of the reason of why we're fascinated by Mars: because deep down we know that if we continue with this kind of behavior Earth is going to end up just like it, sooner rather than later.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  76. Socrates

    What's our fascination with Mars? Because we have so much money to spend and we don't know what to do with it. 2 1/5 billion dollars to take some pictures and congratulate ourselves. Not a bad deal.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  77. gimmeslack12

    I stopped by just to read the imbeciles posting naive comments regarding how we have wasted our time and money doing this. I wasn't disappointed!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Jake

      you will never be disappointed by the imbeciles when you check the CNN forums.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  78. Quazar Ma Jubilee

    Interesting quote "" Unlike Neptune, and the no-longer-a-planet Pluto, Mars has always figured in to the way we understand our solar system." As a former Plutonian myself, I take offense to that statement. As a matter of fact, Plutonians gave up exploration of Mars 6 millenia ago when we realized it didn't enhance our civilization. But no one bothered to ask us about it.

    And dumb Neptonians don't even know Mars exists. But, here on Pluto, our civilization is enhanced by watching Earthly human behavior. We get a real chuckle out of you folks taking yourselves so seriously. Keep up the good work.

    You can contact me with your silly comments via the Zebulon Plutonian consulate on Easter Island.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  79. keysg

    this is truly a remarkable event. Yet US citizen argue about the money spent.
    3 bilion project is little compare to US military spending in a year.

    US does require to invest correctly for future, for better mankind.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  80. Eddie

    What a complete waste of money and time. We have people starving to death and the elderly going without food or medications and yet we completely waste all this money to look at some dirt and rocks. What a bunch of b/s. Way to go NASA yipppeeeeee wowwwwww. Please!!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • nigel

      The money went to salaries for a lot of extremely talented and deserving engineers, probably quite a few of whom have hungry children and/or grandparents. Said engineers employ people to build their houses, they buy cars (some presumably made in America). They probably also drop in for an occasional hamburger at the fine establishment where you are happily employed as a fry cook. Oh, you aren't a fry cook! You would make a good one.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  81. Robert Walechka

    I love mars because I've known where its at in the sky since i was 5. I've always wanted to venture to the planet i would even volunteer to be one of the first out there. It's always fascinated me because to me it might be one step closer to my maker.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  82. newyorkjsw

    this planet may be NEEDED in the future! but only can be if oxygen can be produced and contained with a bubble like

    August 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • DanBun

      Several studies have been done that demonstrate it IS indeed possible to create oxygen at Mars. Any long-term human presence on Mars would require that, as you suggest.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • jayman419

      Where there is water ice, there is oxygen.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
      • Chris

        Mars has oxygen, just not much of it. With low gravity, a solid core, and only localized magnetic fields, the atmosphere is extremely thin. It does, however, have minimal amounts of water and O2. Data suggests that it once had much, much more. I wonder what changed and what caused it.

        It is theoretically possible to do some mild terraforming of the planet, and create an enclosed human colony, but really, it's far too cold to support earth plant life.

        August 7, 2012 at 4:30 am |
      • jayman419

        Chris – There are different theories as to what exactly happened, and in what sequence, but really that's one of the many questions we're going to Mars to answer.

        As best I understand it, what the scientists seem to agree on is that Mars was much warmer in its past, and once not only had a thicker atmosphere, but also contained a dynamo in its core much like Earth's. That dynamo generated a global magnetic field which protected the atmosphere from the solar wind. As Mars cooled, at some point its core ceased to provide global protection, and the atmosphere was slowly stripped away by the Sun.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  83. Edward

    STOP trying to tell the government how to spend your money!

    August 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • jayman419

      One penny out of every dollar the federal government spends goes to NASA.

      And every dollar spent on NASA creates a ten dollar benefit to the economy.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:02 am |
      • Chris

        About half a penny, really. If they're lucky and beg congress hard enough.

        August 7, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  84. neff

    this is so big most puny minds cant comperhand

    August 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  85. Gabby

    i wish they waste money on my job.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • nigel

      Well, for god's sake if someone comes by your workplace and wants to give you money, make sure it didn't come from NASA or any other government boondoggle. Don't take it! It's dirty! It's wasteful! I don't care if you have to starve or get fired, DON"T TAKE THOSE FILTHY TAX DOLLARS!!!!

      August 7, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  86. Ponie up

    stop whining!!! if their going to spend 3 billion of our money, i rather it be on exploring the space.

    there are plenty of other things that the government wastes all our money on, so deal with it!

    besides, the Government fill be flat broke by the end of the next presidency no matter who wins, so suck it up, and deal with it

    August 6, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  87. Michael H

    After reading all of the comments that basically boil down to "science is a waste, spend more on jobs", I find it gratifying to realize that the people that can't comprehend the importance of science and technology are basically the people who will work at McDonald's the rest of their lives.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • moi

      At McDonalds or as preachers. Just a bunch of ignorant people. No investment makes as much return on your money has Nasa has done in the past 50 years. Just look at the cost of computers in the 50s and 60s and the prices today. That is not even comparing the power of those devices.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • cheapseats2

      ...and space exploration technology just magically appears when money is thrown at it. No jobs there. Cut that spending and it won't put any taxpayers out of work and on government sponsored unemployment which gives no return. Bah.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
      • moi

        Nonsense, it is not space exploration itself but the research to achieve these things that brought new discoveries. There would have not been such fast changes in miniaturisation without Nasa. The push to go to space by John Kennedy made it that many companies spent fortunes in research to get the contracts. Fantastic discoveries followed. Every dollar ever spent by Nasa brought in several times the money in all kind of new discoveries. Nasa has done more for discoveries in science than was done in the past 2 world wars. Wars should not be the only things to force research for new technologies.

        August 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Eddie

      Hmmm I'm still sitting here trying to figure out what benefit I have gotten out of all the space exploration we have done in the past 50 years. Other than our satellite communications, I'm at a loss here folks. Does it put food on the table? Does it provide clothing? Does it lower gas prices? Please explain to me how this has helped me and my family. It hasn't and it never will. It's just a bunch of nerds getting their rocks off on our tax dollars.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:06 am |
      • nigel

        OK, just go live in a cave. We won't miss you.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:50 am |
      • Chris

        Hmm... maybe the very computer you used to type your inane message up, oh and the very same technology which eventually gave birth to the internet which you accessed to even read the article.

        Everything from materials used in your home to your television, your cell phone, to many of the parts in your car and possibly even some of the fabrics used in your clothing. Maybe even the very bed you sleep on.

        That's to say nothing of the scientific knowledge and progress gained which benefits you just by knowing it.

        August 7, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  88. Dudeck

    $ 3,000,000,000 to satisfy the "geek" in all of us!

    August 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  89. Dudeck

    CNN lies. There is noone who is fascinated with Mars.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • DanBun

      I feel sorry for you. Your lack of scientific curiosity is sad and unfortunate.....

      August 6, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • neff

      what a looser

      August 6, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • neff

      the whole human race including ypur sorry as? yput tweet

      August 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  90. Leftcoastrocky

    We are so fascinated by Mars because that is what the earth will look like when we get through with it,

    August 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  91. Dynamic

    Hey, what if they find the first New York City? That would be a trip. They should send something that can dig down for a mile or so, just to make sure there aren't any buried cities... That would cost a lot more, but just think of all the jobs it would create, and then there would be a NET PROFIT for our country...somehow...just like with this mission. Actually, where does the money "come from" anyway? It seems like a manufactured construct, capable of existing or not existing, without any real, objective value. Money. Just comes from the idea of it – bartering. Still the same closed domain though: Earth. We humans are really in the business of screwing other humans over in order to make a profit. Just altering the LIBOR, just scamming our friends, our planet-mates. Maybe there's some money on Mars ... they'll probably find that 20 dollar bill I lost last year...A PROFIT!

    August 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  92. abqmufc

    With respect to the mission to Mars. Trillions spent, millions out of work...for that the billionaires can find an escape route from the planet they've destroyed. Just the beginning to Wall-E for me. It's time to put the star gazing away for now and focus on the issues on Gaia! Tough for me to say as my dad worked for NASA for 45 years...but I digress.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • DanBun

      We have not spent "trillions" on NASA, over it's entire history. I believe it's budget this year is about $19 Billion, which is not even one percent of the total federal budget. Spending such a small amount on the future strikes me as a wise investment. And, NASA does indeed create a lot of jobs. You cut NASA, you will cut many jobs directly and indirectly.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • daphne silkworth

      yes, it 's true that the economy is now in a shambles. Things do change drastically every 75 years or so. just think back 75 years ago we had never watched tv, played a video game, or been able to communicate on computers instananeously. in the life of your grandchildren perhaps instead of seeing the world as their oyster they'll see the universe as their oyster. and yes i know my punctuation is apalling.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  93. TX Dem

    I just wish we as taxpayers had the opportunity to opt out of both the 'exploring' and the 'supposed benefits'. Let those who want to fantasize about life on other planets do so on their own dime.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • jayman419

      The very machine you sit at, a technological marvel unseen in the history of mankind, which you use for complaining about the "supposed benefits" of scientific research by the way, is actually one of the benefits of NASA's scientific research.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
      • abqmufc

        And with all these computers we require more power, most of which comes from coal burning EGUs rather than the solar panels and wind turbines NASA also developed. Thus we pollute and pollute and pollute. It is all about priorities. With millions out of work, it is tough to justify trillions for limited gain to the millions of people unemployed and the billions of people just barely making it in the world. Sure it is neat, but so is building an infrastructure in a country crumbling. Why not put all those scientists to work on bio fuels, clean burning transportation (on earth) that is cost effective for middle to low class citizens? Why not put all those scientists to work on issues that are impacting all of us here on Earth?

        August 6, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
      • jayman419

        There are more than 2 million highly technical job openings in this country. We grant an extraordinary number of visas to fill these positions with foreign workers, because we can't fill them with domestic individuals.

        Children of today, who are inspired by this sort of mission, will hopefully become interested enough in science that we can stop importing these workers from other countries.

        And isn't it kind of up to the scientists as to which careers they want to pursue?

        August 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
      • nigel

        abqmufc, you miss the point that the money is not being wasted. 100% of it stays on earth, gets spent, and the people who get the spent money spend it again. The nearest thing to a perpetual motion machine you'll find. When the economy is down, it is this "churn" that helps keep it going until better times come. Otherwise the rich just hoard their money and the poor starve.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  94. Inspired

    It is amazing how incredibly difficult problems can be solved by intelligent humans working together towards a common goal. The successful landing of Curiosity is an inspiring achievement. America at its best. Thanks NASA/JPL and your partners for giving us hope that the power of team work, ingenuity and courage can lead us to a better future.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • jayman419

      Nothing quite like a 150 million mile field goal to brighten up a Monday morning.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  95. XerXeS_2012

    I'll tell you all why we're so interested in Mars. 2 words: Total Recall (1990)! Woooooooo Get Sum baby!

    August 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  96. David

    We have no control over our government, never had, never Will.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • nigel

      Who is Will? The Prince of Wales?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  97. rabs

    Instead of wasting 3 billion dollars on mars missions, make a worldwide law that noone can have more than one or two kids max, and then lets enjoy what we got here for free.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • John

      "noone" The law you suggest may have saved us, after all :-P

      August 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • DanBun

      You really want a government that has such power?
      The idea of controlling population is a wise one, but giving such power to government is scary.
      Why not change the tax code? Only grant tax deductions to the first two children. And reward people who get sterilized.
      Your goal is addressed without government becoming overly powerful.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  98. brad

    hey give me two point five billion dollars. i will be ur best friend.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • jayman419

      I'll give you "fiddy bucks" if you promise to spend it on spelling lessons.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  99. Stupidity

    NASA is like FACEBOOK more hyped nothing much in it..

    August 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Goliath

      Ok...thanks for the response. As a joke, have you seen the Species movie? The used alien DNA on human cells and it was the end....

      August 7, 2012 at 5:39 am |
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