Photos: Mars rover Curiosity
November 20th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

Overheard: Time to send an astronaut to Mars?

By Claire Colbert, CNN

Our readers were certainly intrigued by initial measurements from the Mars rover Curiosity recently, which indicated that radiation levels on Mars are not lethal to humans. More research needs to be done to determine exactly how much radiation exposure a visit to Mars would entail, however.

Curiosity has been on Mars since August 6. For several weeks it had been parked at a place called Rocknest, but on November 16 the rover started driving again, NASA said. Currently it's on its way to a location called Point Lake.

As we continue to chart its activities here at CNN Light Years, it seems that every new discovery that the rover makes rekindles the debate about the importance, or lack thereof, of NASA.

Some people are ready for their ticket to Mars:

raul

send me please!! we should be spitting out astronauts like cheeseburgers at mcdonalds now that we have private comps providing the space veh.

RonJon

We know for a fact astronauts can inhabit the moon for at least 3 days where there is NO atmosphere or magnetosphere. Mars at least has some atmosphere and is farther from the sun. Launch the astronauts now!

Bob thinks the trips should just be one-way:

… this is a really important point. We need to stop thinking about bringing someone back from Mars. Make the first mission (and potentially many after it) one-way trips. It'll be cheaper, faster, easier, and more likely to succeed, and there would be zero difficulty finding quialified appliants. Sign me up.

And some people are ready to invest elsewhere:

Anniemee

I'm really tired of the "big sell" about MARS. I realize going there is a big accomplishment but I think we can quit now. It's obvious that Mars will never be a popular vacation spot. NASA should find something else to do, IMO.

Reader 21k would rather see the money invested in innovation here on Earth:

how sad. there is so much science and engineering we could do here on earth to make life better. but it isn't flashy, and doesn't provide the intellectual escapism of people flying for months or years on "big wokit ships". is it interesting to discover distant planets, figure out black holes, ? yes. but you have to acknowledge your limitations at some point. oh, the spirit of human discovery, bla-bla-bla. this isn't columbus sailing around with all the air and fish he could ask for.

What have we gained from space exploration? Here's a story summarizing some of the important technological advances that have come about because humans decided to examine the world outside our planet.

CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report

Follow @CNNLightYears on Twitter

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