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Space Science

One-Way Ticket to Mars? 1242

Posted by michael
from the all-aboard dept.
ahogue writes "Paul Davies, who has written several very accessible books on physics and cosmology, proposes an interesting way to get a manned mission to Mars - leave them there. [NYTimes, free reg. req.] While it may sounds shocking at first, the financial and exploratory benefits seem to outweigh the social negatives. Any volunteers?" Reader docanime writes with some sober news: "All this recent talk about Mars rovers and orbiters has made one space fan checking out how well Mars has been deflecting and destroying the space probes. The Mars Scorecard lists all the known fly-by, orbital, and landing attempts/failures made by humans. In case you're curious, Mars is winning 20 to 16."
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One-Way Ticket to Mars?

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:20AM (#7998575) Homepage Journal

    ..then evidence for a second genesis would await us, providing a heaven-sent opportunity to compare two bio-systems..

    Pet Peeve #1977832: I hate it when they use overt religious terms in scientific articles. Keep religion relegated to where it belongs and keep science scientific.

  • by glinden (56181) * on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:20AM (#7998586) Homepage Journal
    • the financial and exploratory benefits seem to outweigh the social negatives
    What are the social and exploratory benefits of a manned mission? How do they outweigh the costs?

    While I'm a big fan of robotic probes to Mars and elsewhere, I have never seen a compelling economic argument for manned exploration of Mars, at least in the short and medium term.

    The argument for seems to be based entirely on the assumption that we need to colonize Mars as quickly as possible and this is a first step. But why do we need to colonize Mars as quickly as possible? Until we've exhausted what we can learn from unmanned probes, why send manned missions at all?
  • by October_30th (531777) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:25AM (#7998650) Homepage Journal
    Until we've exhausted what we can learn from unmanned probes, why send manned missions at all?

    Because we can?

    We should go to Mars just because we can. Not because it might make economic sense or serve some social/exploratory benefits.

    We (not just the USA but the world) should do it just because we can.

  • by haggar (72771) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:25AM (#7998658) Homepage Journal
    Lets look into this "volunteer" thing: we are looking for a person ready to give up their whole life, move to an almost 100% barren place where he/she will soon die utterly alone!

    I don't think it would be wise to bet such a multi-ten-billion mission on a whacko like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:26AM (#7998665)
    genesis ( P ) Pronunciation Key (jn-ss)

    1. The coming into being of something; the origin.

    heaven-sent (hvn-snt)

    Occurring at an opportune time; providential.

  • Emotional Horror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaceRook (630389) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:26AM (#7998673)
    The worst situation isn't sending a human to mars and having them destroyed in the atmosphere. The worst situation is having them enter the atmosphere and then never hearing from them again (ala Beagle2). People could deal with straight-out death. But if we send a person to Mars and their fate is unknown, that would freak people out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:27AM (#7998683)
    Pet Peeve #1977833: I hate it when people get pissy about supposed overt references to religion in comments about scientific articles, as if their presence somehow taints the rest of the article. For some, religion and the origin of our species are linked, after all. And just because you may not like it, doesn't mean they are wrong.
  • Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:29AM (#7998710)
    It's just political. It's doubtful that Bush really thinks we should put a man on Mars, or even send a mission there. But doesn't it sound really patriotic? "The First Man On Mars Will Be An AMERICAN!" No sissy robots, which can't even cook or do the dishes. No, a real, honest-to-god, white American male. It's bound to get him some votes.
  • Indeed! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:30AM (#7998718)
    That's one thing I've been wondering about. If it takes a HUGE construct of boosters, launching equipment, and fuel just to escape earth's atmosphere, how exactly do we expect to return anyone from mars? We can't exactly land a launching pad on Mars in any acceptable timeframe, and it would be incredibly difficult to land a craft that would have the required fuel to escape from Mars.

    Somehow I doubt that the desire to have someone walk on Mars is going to be the magical trick that makes fusion a viable energy source. We need more general science, not just a space program.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by FrostedWheat (172733) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:30AM (#7998724)
    If there had to be a compelling economic argument for everything we do we'd still be living in caves! We should goto Mars because it's there!! And it's interesting and a challange! Who needs more of a reason?!

    Plus all humanity is stuck on one planet. That's bad! There are numerous things which could wipe out the entire race. But put humans on other worlds, and you begin to ensure the race has a future.
  • by Josh Booth (588074) <joshbooth2000NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:37AM (#7998823)
    But at the expense of using the money for something that will more directly affect mankind? We can't even spare 8 x 10^9 dollars on a nice particle accelerator, let alone what it would take for a moonshot. The Apollo program cost 25 x 10^9 dollars 30+ years ago [nationmaster.com]. Inflation should make the modern cost much more, even though we already have most of the research to get to the moon. So, why not build a 40 mile particle accelerator BECAUSE WE CAN? But that doesn't get you reelected.
  • by kippy (416183) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:39AM (#7998858)
    And I'd be the first one to sign up. This is after all what the ultimate goal of space exploration should be. It's the ultimate goal of life itself after all.
  • by b1t r0t (216468) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:40AM (#7998878)
    We should go to Mars just because we can.

    No. First of all, why do you think we went to the moon? Just because we could? Wrong. We went because space was the next frontier of the Cold War.

    We went into orbit because we didn't want the Russians to be the only ones up there, free to put up orbiting nuclear launch platforms. We went to the moon because we didn't want to lose prestige if the Russians got there first. (And possibly there was some worry about the Russians setting up a base with nuclear missiles up there too. Except they never got a man on the moon anyhow.)

    Once we had gotten there, nobody cared. Apollo 13 would have been the third landing, and the media had already lost interest in space launches by then.

  • by potifar (87326) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:40AM (#7998879)
    Well actually, the usual view of science is that should be refutable, not that it is or should be provable. Religion on the other hand is notoriously non-refutable.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:40AM (#7998884) Journal
    I agree somewhat. Robots should be used for remote exploration and discovery, as they are much cheaper and safer, and research into robotics technologies have direct ground-side benefits. Robots could also be used for autonomous construction of orbital spacecraft and Mars habitats, and then, once everything's ready, you send over human colonists (probably much earlier than you'd have with human construction). With robots you have much lower costs and no potential deaths to cause public panic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:42AM (#7998912)
    yes the apollo mission did cost 25 billion but over a period of 11 years. the NASA budget has been less than 1% of the national budget for a long time. its not about doing things because we can, its about exploration. its human nature.
  • by October_30th (531777) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:43AM (#7998916) Homepage Journal
    So? I think we still should go to Mars just because we can.

    I wasn't saying that we went to space and the moon "because we could".

  • by Begossi (652163) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:45AM (#7998965)
    We dont need to colonize Mars right now - but we are able to (well, in the process of). And wed better do it, because eventually the time will come when we will have to colonize Mars, but we may lack the capacity by then. And then, we will wish so much that we had done it when we could.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:52AM (#7999044) Homepage
    The argument for seems to be based entirely on the assumption that we need to colonize Mars as quickly as possible and this is a first step. But why do we need to colonize Mars as quickly as possible? Until we've exhausted what we can learn from unmanned probes, why send manned missions at all?

    Well, at one point in our world's history, there were a lot of people who simply couldn't comprehend why anybody would want to throw their life away by sailing off the edge of the planet. There wasn't anything fundamentally wrong with Europe that necessitated grand exploration, and most of the people leading these expeditions could have enjoyed a very comfortable life had they desired to do so. In short, the biggest thing driving the exploration was sheer curiosity (paired with the hope that these explorers might be able to find easier routes to places like the East Indies and cash in on them--a sort of Renaissance explorer's lottery.)

    Looking back, I'm quite glad they went ahead and did it, anyways. Without said exploration, me and several billion of my closest friends wouldn't have the life we have today. Say whatever you will about the ills American society has introduced to this planet, say whatever you will about how royally we're fucking things up in our adolescent pursuit of global hegemony--fact is, America has done a lot to advance global prosperity, human rights, and quality of life. Had the explorers and pioneers of old not taken the (sometimes overwhelming) risks they took, we would be far less advanced, as a planet, than we are today.

    Look forward. Know that you, your children, your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren will never, ever, ever live to see the day when there is a self-sustaining colony on the Moon, Mars, or anywhere else. Know, too, that the sooner we start accepting the risks inherent with exploration, the sooner we'll be able to achieve the advances that come with such momentous human achievements.

  • by mandalayx (674042) * on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:55AM (#7999085) Journal
    Lets look into this "volunteer" thing: we are looking for a person ready to give up their whole life, move to an almost 100% barren place where he/she will soon die utterly alone!

    I don't think it would be wise to bet such a multi-ten-billion mission on a whacko like that.


    Hmm. soldiers? Vietnam? WWII? Iraq?

    What do you think these WWI guys thought when they heard about machine guns?
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:56AM (#7999093)
    I have never seen a compelling economic argument for...

    I have never seen a compelling argument that economic benefit was the only valid reason to do something. Do you have a hobby, or any goals other than "make money"? Getting money is only a means to whatever end you ultimately want - so many successful people seem to forget that.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:58AM (#7999130) Journal
    You mean what sort of whacko would want to devote their life to exploring a completely new world, be surrounded by the most sophisticated technology available, and be known for the lifespan of humanity as the first space colonist? I'd certainly consider myself such a whacko, and imagine several other slashdotters would be eager to sign up.

    Many people spend their lives in near-isolation devoted to research, or risk their lives as test pilots to advance aeronautical knowledge and experience an incredible thrill. This really isn't that far off.

    In any case, it's not like they'd likely be in isolation permanently. The whole point is to send later colonization missions, and if there's already somebody there who can't get back, that gives later efforts all the more focus.
  • by haggar (72771) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:03PM (#7999199) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, and that's eve whackier! You and 3 other fellows live together the whole time (or, you have the option to go for a walk in the nice martian parks), just the 4 of you all the time. And then you wait who's going to die first? And then the next? And then... Shit, it's even more depressing this way.

    Sorry dude, still think such individual(s) has issues.
  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:05PM (#7999227)
    You're giving the reasons the politicians did those things.

    But, why did the Russians go? Why did it even occur to us to go in the first place. For all the intelligent people here, I'm amazes at the complete lack of understanding of the scientific progress.

    We (as in scientests) went to space, as we do ALL science, because we can. To get funding we might give other reasons, but what drives the scientests and engineers is the challenge, and possibility of understanding more about the universe and ourselves. Who cares it's usefull right now? Who cares if it might not work? Who cares what the politicians think?

    From the scientest's point of view, the rest of the world is here to support me. We have all this government and industry so that the equipment I need is available, and the conditions are amenable to research.

    The question of why to go to mars is the same as why we are here as a race. Do we have a purpose, and what might it be? If our future is to sit around in this little rock and argue with eachother for the next few million years, that's fine, but I sure as hell am going to do everything I can to change that.
  • by Rostin (691447) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:09PM (#7999279)
    Leaving aside the fact that you are being way too sensitive, and that both these words have entered the every-day lexicon stripped of their religious meaning, I am very thankful (and you should be to) that Newton (and many early scientists besides) didn't share your narrow-minded ideas about how we ought to compartmentalize knowledge.

    "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." Isaac Newton in The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.
  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:10PM (#7999289)
    A million dollar salary? No need - I'd do it for free. Mind you, I don't think Mars needs graphic designers any time soon, but if there's a volunteer sheet being passed around, I'll put my name on it. Seriously, while it would basically be suicide, it would be the single coolest thing possible. I'd pay for the right to go...
  • by jdavidb (449077) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:12PM (#7999305) Homepage Journal

    Genesis, IIRC, is Latin for "beginning," or something like that. It's like a noun form of our verb, "to generate." The first book of the Bible only got that name because it is about the beginning of the world, and the first phrase in Hebrew is, "In the beginning." The Hebrews named the books by their first word or phrase. Translate through Latin to English, and you get our modern book of Genesis.

    The word itself is not at all inherently religious.

  • by the_2nd_coming (444906) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:13PM (#7999337) Homepage
    true....I do think that there is a greater benifit in propultion experiments and comeing up with new ways of creating energy that will be long lasting.

    when we can create a machine that can take us to Jupitor and back in 3 months, I think we will have manned missions to mars and the moons of Jupitor.

    but we cannot stop doing things because of physical risk to life.

    should we not create a space station around mars or around jupitor becaue it will be dangerus? no...it is imparative to colonise our solar system in teh most hospitable places outside earth. then we will have preasures to develop more efficent and faster methods of traveling so as to make the trip from mars to eart or earth to jupitor a shorted trip. which in turn will push the limits of where we can travel....one day, we will be making tips to the oort cloud to get water for our outlying colonies and we willbe mining asteroids for raw materials for manufacturing.

    as a paralell...if all of humanity lived in a 10 square mile area and never left it, would there have been any preasure to create better forms of travel than _maybe_ a bicycle? I say no, and I also say that a bysicle would be considered high technology.

    we need to move beyond this planet in order for use to develop the technology needed to travel from Point A to point B more efficently which will in turn will begin to move us beyond this solar system.
  • by nanojath (265940) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:15PM (#7999361) Homepage Journal
    Well, if we're talking about the one-way-ticket scenario, the worst-case scenario I can think of would probably be successfully putting them down and then listening as the impact of the fact that they are going to spend the rest of their probably short lives in a bubble in the middle of a barren waste sets in. Whatever a person thinks they're up to, the human reaction to that situation could never be predicted until they got there... Given a year, two, three...


    A person in that situation has nothing to lose and if they decide to go off the deep end they won't ever have to face anyone back home about the consequences. It could become a very ugly spectactle that turned people off to manned exploration. Suiciide, desperate pleadings (I don't care how much it costs, just come back and pick me up!), horrible fights between crew members (sure the space station crews manage to keep it together... but they know that if things go right they're eventually coming home) all seem like real possibilities.


    The author's examples of risk-seekers like test pilots isn't valid. These people may be willing to dice recklessly with death but they are not seeking the guarantee of death. Show me the test pilot who would get into the plane after being told it's unquestionably going to blow up but he'll get a hell of a ride before it happens.

  • by tstoneman (589372) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:17PM (#7999387)
    Sure, on the surface it sounds fine where a scientist says, "Okay, we have a one-way mission to Mars, there is no chance for you to get back. Are you okay with that?" And you could have plenty of people volunteer.

    But what happens when these people get on Mars? Then what? What if, after a few weeks, the video/radio transmissions back to Mission Control are:

    "OH GOD PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE! PLEASE I'LL DO ANYTHING! PLEASE I DON'T WANT TO DIE ON THIS PLANET!"

    Imagine how horrifying that would be to everyone involved? It would be like watching a person who was condemned to die and fighting [daytondailynews.com]it at the last minute. No matter how justified it is, I think don't think there is anything that can prepare you for someone struggling to live and begging for their lives. Imagine the outrage that people on Earth would feel when the media shows a clip of this astronaut pleading for his life? It would go down as one of the darkest days of humanity.

    I mean, they can't just shut off the radio and ignore the person.

    The humane aspect of sending a person on a one-way death mission is the aspect that the author has completely and utterly ignored. It's easy to forget that right now, but when death is about to happen, everyone will be thinking, "Dear Lord, what have we done? How could we have done this?" and we as a species will regret the entire thing.

  • Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demachina (71715) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:19PM (#7999400)
    I've made exactly the same proposal here on slashdot numerous times. It is the only rational way to approach manned exploration of of Mars. It dramaticly reduces the difficulty and cost of the mission since you dont have to get a return vehicle to Mars, with fuel, or produce the fuel there. A roud trip mission to Mars is misguided thinking stemming from an Apollo mindset and it simply isn't appropriate for the much longer mission to Mars. The Apollo approach also proved to be a dead end. Just think if the Apollo goal had been to put a habitat on the Moon instead of go there, pick up rocks, come back, yawn.

    It also eliminates the long periods in zero G which seems to be NASA's misguided obsession (evidenced by the fact the 100 billion dollars wasted on the ISS which is now dedicated to zero G physiology research). Not sure after a long trip in zero G and a long period in 1/3 G on Mars a crew will be real happy coming back to earth's 1 G either. You also reduce the risk of radiation exposure in deep space.

    Start lobbing cargo containers, habitats, hydroponics, a nuclear reactor etc at Mars ASAP using unmanned ships. Preceed this with a bunch more robotic missions to search for criticial resource on planet like water.

    When cargo ships start arriving reliably and you have enough there to sustain colonists send one or two manned flights with a bunch of astronauts, with enough skills, to start a somewhat self sufficient colony or two. Once there there you dont NEED any more manned missions, just some more cargo flights until they learn to tap Mars resources and be self sufficient. When they are self sufficient the huge expense ends but you still have a bold expedition on Mars, in perpetuity, and we have expended our biosphere which is a priceless thing in the event man, or natural events, destroys earth's.
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blamanj (253811) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:20PM (#7999420)
    I don't think the knee-jerk Bush-bashing is appropriate, either (mostly because it's offtopic) but it deserves pointing out that if he really wants it to happen, he should fund it properly. The announcements the other day showed only that he was willing to sacrifice other projects (that's where the money comes from) for a political stage show (because Mars it where the action is right now) and to top it off, he's giving more money ($1.5B vs $1.0B) to "encourage marriage" so you see where his priorities really are.
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:28PM (#7999512)
    > If there had to be a compelling economic argument for everything we do we'd still be living in caves!

    Well, there are only x amount of natural caves and building your own shelter solves that problem. If there was cave-rent then that would certainly be a economic argument, but it was more a survival argument as 'cave-rent' was how well you could defend it.

    Survival and economics go hand in hand.
  • by Rostin (691447) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:28PM (#7999520)
    You are wrong, and it can be easily demonstrated: There are a lot of people who aren't religious, and claim that they aren't because "the evidence" makes religious ideas unbelievable for them. Religion for them has been refuted. Within religions, people swap one set of ideas for other slightly different sets because of whatever passes for evidence for them.

    Religious ideas are frequently not subject to empirical validation, because they don't always deal primarily with empirically observable phenomena. For that reason, you will never have the sort of agreement about religious ideas that you have about so-called scientific ideas. Religious ideas are harder to get at. But that doesn't make them categorically the opposite of scientific ideas when it comes to refutability.
  • by Lancer (32120) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:30PM (#7999538) Homepage
    Apollo 13 would have been the third landing, and the media had already lost interest in space launches by then.

    And we should, of course, base all of our decisions on what the media considers interesting.

  • by Slowping (63788) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:33PM (#7999563) Homepage Journal

    The question of why to go to mars is the same as why we are here as a race. Do we have a purpose, and what might it be? If our future is to sit around in this little rock and argue with eachother for the next few million years, that's fine, but I sure as hell am going to do everything I can to change that.


    Wish I had points to mod you up.
    I think many people also fail to realize that many social problems are incrementally improved by advances in how we, as a society and race, view and understand our role in the universe.
  • Leave them there? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:39PM (#7999639)
    Unless our society change quite a bit during the next 30 years there's no way we're going to do something like that. But eg.: the chineese could probably do something like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:41PM (#7999661)
    I disagree. First of all, the psychological evaluations for anyone that volunteered would be extensive. Second, the trip would only be one-way in the sense that no means of returning is planned at the outset; not that there could never be a possibility of returning (just no guarantee).
  • by Dashing Leech (688077) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:47PM (#7999731)
    I don't any of those descriptions are correct. Science is about modeling reality and improving the models by learning (observation and testing). Religion is about dogma, i.e., "This is the way it is and don't question it, because I said so. If observations disagree it is because the observations are wrong."

    Now, the implementation of science and religion have additional baggage, such as pseudo-science, poor methodology, and poor interpretation of results for much of science these days, and corruption, power hunger, prejudice, oppression, violence, hatred, and wars in throughout the history of religion.

  • Two answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siskbc (598067) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:48PM (#7999736) Homepage
    But at the expense of using the money for something that will more directly affect mankind?

    First, look at all the crap (in addition to Tang) that was developed as a direct result of the space program and the incredible challenges that have been overcome in the process, including computers, etc. Technology spending returns well on investment. Spending on technology research advances mankind.

    That said, what is an example of something that will more directly affect mankind? I presume not bandaid solutions for problems? Because the return on investment there is 0.

    Admittedly, I'd at least turn the American public school system into something functional before going back to the moon, which we already did 35 freaking years ago.

    But outside of that, I see space exploration as being a problem so difficult that it acts as a spur to develop innovative, useful solutions. It also is a goal with so many inherent problems that it requires a diversity of engineering solutions - unlike a particle accelerator, which while expensive, doesn't require innovative engineering to accomplish, and only advances one kind of basic science. Not to say that's not cool, but I think space exploration ends up being more useful to all of us.

  • by BTWR (540147) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .3robignacirema.> on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:52PM (#7999784) Homepage Journal
    No liberal will acknoledge Bush, Bush or Reagan's sucesses.

    No conservative will give Clinton credit for his enourmous sucesses.

    I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but the US has become so polarized that it basically comes down to this:

    Conservatives: They decide beforehand that Bush is right. After he does something, they say why it's right. Same with Clinton. He's wrong... once he does something, they say WHY he was wrong.

    Liberals: Decide whatever Bush does is wrong because he's a "right-winged whacko" or an "idiot" and whatever Clinton did was awesome.

    Examples
    1. Conservatives hail the NASA plan as bold and signs of a good leader. Liberals say that it's simply a ploy/trick. Yeah, like it wouldn't be the opposite had Clinton done it.
    2. The economic boom was (basically) entirely within Clinton's years. Conservatives remain steadfast that the dems had NOTHING to do with it. Had it been Dole in office from 96-2000 I guarentee you it would have been all his doing according to many.

    Sigh... partisan politics...
  • by tobe (62758) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:54PM (#7999803)

    And thirdly there's no way the public would get to here their last cries for help...

    Incidentally...

    Please vote against this [daytondailynews.com] sort of thing at every opportunity you get.

  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Friday January 16, 2004 @12:55PM (#7999809) Homepage
    great you let them in on it next thing you know they will figure out the house and senate have a little something to do with it..
  • by Dictator For Life (8829) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:00PM (#7999867) Homepage
    Just remember that this was your opinion when a Democrat president continues this program in 8 years.

    Cynicism cuts both ways. I don't doubt that this boondoggle's motivation includes a hefty dollop of political scheming, but Democrats are at the very least the equals of any GOPer when it comes to the pursuit of political gain at the expense of tax dollars: they both say "There's plenty more where that came from!"

  • by invid (163714) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:01PM (#7999882) Homepage
    Just to clarify, this is not a homophobic statement. The problem that would be solved is the need for women. I am not implying that we send all homosexual men to Mars.
  • by UrGeek (577204) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:01PM (#7999883)
    Nothing on Mars is worth the price at this time. Thrown people on a oneway price cost even more - the soul of our society, to throw away good people for so little. Good gawd, we have even finish the I.S.S. or settled on a successor to the Space Shuttle. And for all of this we are going to throw away the Hubble?

    The U.S. space policy is as insane as it's policy in the Middle East or it's tax structure.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:05PM (#7999933)
    I agree. Remember how helpless we all felt when the last taps from the Kursk [bvalphaserver.com] occurred? With all our technology, we couldn't help those poor sailors trapped like rats, drowning to death? Imagine how public the death of these martianauts would be, and how helpless we would feel? I think there would be outrage especially if an accident occurred and they died, just like how there was outrage when both the Challenger and the Columbia exploded.
  • by pavon (30274) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:27PM (#8000196)
    True, Yeager was not an identical analogy to your situation. I was pointing him out because he was an example of how non-"normal" people are necisarry to push society forward.

    Here is another more relevent historical example. The original europeans settlers in america were just as isolated from the people they came from as the mars settlers were. I imagine the first people to colonize Hawaii were the same.

    If we are going to colonize a planet, there must be a first person or group of people to go. The only people you will find to do this are ones who concider the downsides to be worth it, or as you call them "wackos". So should we never colonise anything, because we don't like the type of people that are willing to do the work?

    The only other alternative that I see is that we wait until we can move an entire population to Mars before leaving anyone there. This is very unlikely to happen. You can't engineer such an elaborate project, in one heap. You have to work is steps, testing and improving along the way.

    The point I was making in my original post is that all colonization was first done by people you concider wacko, and it was only through their hard groundbreaking work that the way was paved for "normal" people to come later.
  • by holy_smoke (694875) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:31PM (#8000232)
    Its not so much about getting there, but what new technologies will be developed in the effort to try. New fabrics, new electronics, new radio gear, new sheilding technologies, better batteries, better solar power, etc etc. And then there are jobs, new businesses created, institutions of education focusing more on sciense, more college kids going for science and tech degrees, etc etc.

    In the end it doesn't matter at all if we actually end up going, but rather what new things we learn and develop along the way.
  • by expro (597113) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:32PM (#8000240)
    The fact that "the chances for civilization on Mars to be destroyed by an asteroid or a killer plague or any other natural or unnatural disaster are tremendously larger" is completely irrelevant. The chances for civilization to be killed both places is less. Even if there were only a 50% chance over some period of time of the Mars colony surviving, that significantly reduces the chance that all civilization will be destroyed.
  • by fredrated (639554) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#8000294) Journal
    Their criteria for scoring is
    "For every piece of hardware that returns useful information from the Lobbee's planet, the Lobber scores a point. For every piece of hardware successfully thwarted by the Lobbee, they score a point."

    So the score is not Mars 20 Earth 16 but Mars 8 Earth 16.

    Based on their own criteria, the following points awarded to Mars are disallowed because Mars did not participate in the failure as the above requires:

    event 2: Marsnick 1, launch failure
    event 3: Marsnick 2, launch failure
    event 4: Sputnick 22, launch failure
    event 5: Mars 1, failure in transit
    event 6: Sputnick 24, broke up before Mars trajectory
    event 7: Mariner 3, failure before Mars trajectory
    event 10: unnamed, launch failure
    event 12: Mars 1969a, launch failure
    event 14: Mars 1969b, launch failure
    event 15: Mariner 8, launch failure
    event 16: Cosmos 419, ignition failure
    event 29: Mars 96, failure to enter Mars trajectory

    Launch failures are incompletes and failure to enter Mars trajectory means Mars didn't even know it was coming.

    "Stupidity: it's a renewable resource"
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kognate (322256) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:43PM (#8000365)
    Some things are more important than lots of people. Sometimes the sacrifice of individuals is required so that the whole may live. You may think that duty, honor and sacrifice are words but they are much more than that.

    The reason that this idea (that sacrifice is sometimes needed) can be abused by the small minded and the power hungry lies in it's truth, not its falsehood.

    That being said, I would sign myself up and my wife would sign up for this mission too.

    -jbs
  • by Glonoinha (587375) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:46PM (#8000396) Journal
    Actually one way tickets were how America was founded like 250 years ago. Probably took as long for those ships to get here from England as it is going to take a manned space ship to get to Mars, so ...

    Looks like a good plan, at least as good as the plan to colonize America in the early to mid 1600s - 1700s. Then again, didn't the first few groups of settlers die? I might go, but not on the first go-around.
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday January 16, 2004 @01:51PM (#8000468)
    Im sorry, I can't see this as anything but pure, uncut stupidity.

    To decide that since we aren't quite ready to send someone to Mars and then bring them back home we will instead just do what we can at the moment and send someone to die on Mars is idiotic in the extreme.

    We aren't ready to go to Mars yet. It's as simple as that. We will eventually be ready to make an attempt at it and then it will be the thing to do. Right now it's nothing more than another President saying something to try and get some good reviews in a History book.

    Since the end of the space race every President has been trying to be John F Kennedy when it comes to space. Carter got to be the Space Shuttle guy, Reagan had his "Space Station Freedom" thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @02:01PM (#8000586)
    Because they may be able to pull you from the ashes of a burnt-out planet.

    Or you may be able to quickly escape to a new planet because the infrastructure is built up.

    Or you (or your family) may be in the preserved colony. It might be a nice place in 50 years.

    Or self sufficent orbital/lunar bases may be able to be constructed based on tech developed from the mars missions.

    Or ...

    why would the extra 0.0001% dead be more fair when the most of the rest didn't diserve to die anyway?
  • Re:Two answers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crabpeople (720852) on Friday January 16, 2004 @02:19PM (#8000809) Journal
    "First, look at all the crap (in addition to Tang) that was developed as a direct result of the space program and the incredible challenges that have been overcome in the process, including computers, etc"

    ah look its miss information how are you today?

    Quoting from Here [slashdot.org]:

    " see that computer you are typing on, see the cell phone you are using, see that velcro, teflon, anything small, anything modern, anything you see around you.....it has been made possable because of the work NASA did in the 60's to get men to the moon. "

    " Wrong.
    Velcro? Swiss inventor, 1948.
    Teflon? Ohio researcher, 1937.
    Care to try a few more? Plastics, maybe? Nope, 1908!
    Smoke detector? Nope
    Computers? No. Night vision goggles? No. Cell phones? No. TV? No. Radio? No. Microwaves? NO. Tang?......NO! All of these things I have heard people mention as spinoffs, and NONE OF THEM ARE TRUE. Some even came from the 19th century!
    Most of the advances they have contributed have been minor improvements on existing ideas. That's not to say that they havn't contributed anything, but it isn't vital to our current state of technology. The most important things they have come up with has been in the field of treating osteoporosis, on account of having to deal with it in astronaughts who had been in space for too long...
    Oh, and data compression. They hold a whole whack of patents on various methods of compressing images and other data, and 40% of their funding comes from these royalties."

    ---
    That all being said, my personal feelings are that we should definately send people all over the solar system. However I see it only happening when:

    1) Countries start working together instead of getting into pissing contests.

    2) MegaCorps have nothing or very little to do with it.I dont want to look up at the microsoft moon^(tm) thanks...

    3) Money is diverted from Military uses which really dont do anythign to benifit mankind at all. Well except for reducing populations that one could argue... nevermind.

  • Re: economic boom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BTWR (540147) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .3robignacirema.> on Friday January 16, 2004 @02:37PM (#8000981) Homepage Journal
    thats exactly the conservative spin I was talking about (which liberals do the same with). Right or wrong, it's still the same... Good economy = From Bush one, NOT clinton. Bad economy = From Clinton, NOT Bush 2.
  • by trinitrotoluene (713170) on Friday January 16, 2004 @02:38PM (#8000989)
    What if, the Chinese altered their One Child Per Couple policy, such that, if a couple exceeded the one child they're permitted, the couple could opt that their "extra" children be sent into space for colonizing another world, instead of automatically being killed?

    Good idea, but you would still have a problem with overpopulation while the extra children were growing up. They probably wouldn't know enough to be really useful in a small colony until they were ate least in their mid 20s.

    Well, yeah! And the reason is that 9/11 showed EVERYONE what the penalty is for lack of action against terrorism. Those 500 deaths to eliminate terrorism are an investment which pays returns in thousands of lives saved from terrorist acts. We don't send people to war *just* to defend the idea of our country. We send them to war to defend and protect us. You're asking to send people into space - to die - in order to explore, and gain new knowledge. You're asking them to suspend their belief that life is valuable to support your belief that knowledge is more valuable. In the case of war, people aren't being asked to disbelieve in the value of life in favor of something else. They're being asked to sacrifice some lives to protect other lives. You're asking to trade lives for ideas. I'm not saying you shouldn't ask. I'm saying that you shouldn't expect a positive answer. Because the VAST majority of people don't agree with that sentiment.

    The way I see it, and they way I think it should be seen, is not as sending people out to die so we know what type of rocks are on Mars. We're sending people out who are willing to risk their lives to help the species as a whole. A sustainable, growing colony on Mars would be a priceless invesment for humanity.
  • by jabberjaw (683624) on Friday January 16, 2004 @02:41PM (#8001048)
    Men wanted for hazardous journey - small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
    Ernest Shackelton placed this ad to recruit applicants for his Antartic voyage. Five thousand individuals responded. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is it, save for the deep of the oceans there is little adventure left here. Everst and K2 have been summited, the globe circumnavigated, Antartica traversed. We must look elseware. We must look to the Moon and Mars. Honour and recognition await those who dare apply...
  • High stakes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nairolF (315683) on Friday January 16, 2004 @02:42PM (#8001057) Homepage
    If we do send a one-way manned mission, we'd be playing for high stakes: If it succeeds, having a bunch of hungry people on Mars is an excellent motivation for the public to continue funding further Mars missions. If, however, these people die in some horrible way, the public will become rather cautious about future missions. This could set us (humanity) back by decades.

    I think the fate of a bunch of individuals is not very relevant. More people die in road accidents every day than have ever died in (or getting into) space. But the publicity generated by their fate could well dictate the pace of future space exploration.
  • by Skyshadow (508) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:01PM (#8001333) Homepage
    Seriously, if you pick the right sort of people for this sort of venture, you'd never get a message like that. The average /.er might find it easier to associate with someone who sits down and cries when death seems certain, but we want to send the type who will fight and work and innovate right up until their last breath, because they're the ones that'll survive.

    Of course, it's also up to us to make sure it doesn't come to that. I'd want to design the mission so that even when stuff goes wrong, there's always a good fighting chance for the people on the surface. I wouldn't send people there with one oxygen generator or one inflatible crop dome or without some construction gear or anything.

    I mean, Mars isn't the moon. There are resources and things to work with all over the place -- the ground, the atmosphere, etc. And compared to space or the moon, it's a really safe place to be.

    Send construction gear. Send machine tools. With some basic gear, plenty of power and know-how, you can make all sorts of things on Mars -- shelters, oxygen, water, food, wire, plastics...

    Give me 50 skilled people, a dependable nuclear reactor and enough gear to get started and I'll make Mars a safe place for human life inside of a decade. If something breaks, I'll fix it. If we run out of spare parts, we'll mill new ones. If a few of us die, well, we'll mourn them and move on.

    Leave the weak and timid back on earth. This isn't a venture for people who aren't willing to take serious risks or who think real "work" is sitting in front of a CRT all day typing TPS reports. Give me people who know construction, farming, materials, mechanics, people who can think on their feet and who can make a round peg fit in a square hole when they need to. Give me people who will work every day to survive and I'll turn the red planet into humanity's second home.

    In short, give me pioneers.

  • by trinitrotoluene (713170) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:05PM (#8001387)
    What you're talking about is possible, but the chance of it occuring could be reduced.

    As the other poster said, the people chosen to would be chosen based heavily on their mental stability. It might be a good idea to send a psychiatrist along too, just in case. This would depend on the size of the mission of course, but even in a small mission, you could just send a biologist with cross training in psychology.

    As implied above, the mission won't just be one lonely guy. A crew of around half a dozen would probably be a good number. You would have the team train together og course, and try to inspire a camraderie between all the team members. The compatibility of all the crew would be a topic of extensive psychological study I'm sure.

    I'm not sure if sending couples would be a good idea, or even if sending a co-ed crew ouldn't be asking for trouble. You can imagine what would happen if two of the crew had a messy break up omn Mars. (Or even worse - cheating with another crew member.) Of course, the possible implications of being on Mars for the rest of your life without sex might be a problem for a lot of people.

    What else? Well, it wouldn't be a straight forward death mission, I hope. Planning to sustain the crew on Mars would be a lot more useful than an unsupported suicide mission. Knowing that supplies (and more astronauts) are continuously streaming from Earth would certainly help me feel better.

    So that's all the reasons I can think of why a non-returning mission wouldn't cause madness and public death.
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:07PM (#8001407)
    Things more important than people?

    Sure! Absolutely! There's nothing special about any person, although there may be special people. We're not wonderful and unique snowflakes. We're an animal, just like any other animal.

    On one hand, I offer you the magical cure to every disease of humanity.

    On the other, the marriage to your wife/husband.

    Which is more important? A person? Humanity?

    Science wins, because it's a community effort. Science is much more important than any single living person.
  • by ArmedLemming (18042) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:09PM (#8001423)
    With all due respect, I don't think Mars needs property rights. If the purpose of reaching mars is scientific, then I believe Antarctica provides [antarctica.ac.uk] a realistic way of achieving our goals without property rights.

    Since 1959 (through a cold war) Antarctica has been the model for the suspension of territorial and property rights. Perhaps the idea of keeping science as the paramount priority there would also enable something like the Antarctic treaty to work on Mars -- even while the population on Mars builds the diverse infrastructure needed to sustain life there...

  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:19PM (#8001514) Homepage
    Lets see Flordia's constitution required a full recount and cert by x date, that was impossible so the SCOTUS ordered flordia to obey its constitution. could Gore have won? I dont know I do know he was trying hard to exclude Military ballots...
  • by glinden (56181) * on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:25PM (#8001577) Homepage Journal
    This isn't some personal hobby on my or your spare time. This is a large expenditure of public funds. You have to ask if there were other ways to spend those funds that would have had a better positive impact on mankind.

  • by lavaface (685630) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:26PM (#8001594) Homepage
    The land had zero value because no one was there and the bonds got paid off by the railroads.

    I believe you're forgeting about the Native Americans who had been living there for centuries. I imagine they would disagree with your assertion that the land had no value.

    While I generally agree with your point, I am more inclined to see what we can do with robot technology before we send manned missions. Pushing the limits of robotics also has the nice side effect of being useful for those of us stuck on lovely Terra.

  • by trinitrotoluene (713170) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:53PM (#8001928)
    If you didnt't have to send:
    • return vehicle
    • return fuel
    you could fit a lot of food on a rocket in exchange. We're talking many, many tons. And it woudl be very efficient, high-calorie food. I don't have any exact numbers, but it seems it could be done.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Friday January 16, 2004 @04:11PM (#8002137) Journal
    Counterpoint: If we wipe out the Martian biosphere, so what? Especially if we replace it with a rich, vibrant, diverse biosphere?

    It's worth thinking about the answer to those questions very, very carefully. If your answer is, "It's just wrong!", then you understand nothing even about your own opinions, and don't expect the rest of us to give a shit about them.

    (I'll also suggest that if your answer is "Because life is precious!", that both "Why?" and "Aren't being a hypocrite then, living with a functional immune system?" are two valuable questions to consider.)

    I'm not saying that there's no answer to them. I'm saying that knee-jerk environmentalism only applies to Earth, to the extent that it even makes sense there. Applying it to space is stupid. There is nothing we could do the the Lunar "biosphere" that could possibly make it any worse then it already it. Nothing. All we could possibly do is improve it. Mars may be a slightly more complicated case if bacteria or bacteria-analogues are found, but how much does that really change?

    In the end, it boils down to: "Is environmentalism taken to the level you seem to be suggesting a death pact, with the only way to satisfy it being to cower on our planet, huddled in a cave for fear of hurting an animal or plant, sometime, somewhere in the universe, waiting for extinction?" If your answer is "yes", don't expect the rest of us to agree with you.
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theLOUDroom (556455) on Friday January 16, 2004 @04:18PM (#8002211)
    I would like to take a moment to apologize to you for all the retards replying to you. They just don't get it. Some things are more important than any one person. Heck, than ten people.

    Science is one of those things. Scientific advancement advances everyone.

    I understand. I wouldn't do it, but I understand. I can understand how a man could die with a smile on his face at the end of a mission like that.

    We all die sometime. It's going to happen. Advancing the knowledge of mankind sounds like a pretty good way to go.
  • Re:I, Volunteer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LaCosaNostradamus (630659) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Friday January 16, 2004 @05:28PM (#8003039) Journal
    Endless studies represent the length, breadth and depth of the huge volume of our incompetence when it comes to colonizing space. We know more than enough to attempt to survive. We have more than enough knowledge, skill and wealth to start the colonizing process. But we just aren't doing that. As I love to say, no matter how many decimal points academia gets, they always want one more.

    Mars is a world, like Earth is a world. Worlds are livable. We have rafts of data from various probes, and it tends to boil down to the availability of the elements hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Once we know about those -- and we do -- then any further delay is political. Engineering is just waiting to attack Martian problems. It is waiting on us to get out of Earth's gravity well.

    Mars presents the problem of having no readily-available building material. But it's a world. Worlds have ores. All those rocks scattered over Earth's surface contain aluminum, and all it takes to extract it is energy; the same probably applies to Mars. All this means is that Martians must be devoted miners.

    We are ready. More precisely, those of us who are ready, are ready. Life is not assured in this venture, like it is when you move from New York to Australia. Nasty death is entirely possible ... decompression, starvation, freezing, deficiency sickness, physical accident, etc. Yet fear, uncertainty and doubt about the future are not valid reasons for avoiding the future. The prize of Mars is an opportunity that merits great risks.
  • by Jonathan (5011) on Friday January 16, 2004 @05:47PM (#8003200) Homepage
    Lots of people would be willing to go, even if it meant probably only a year of survival. They could get an amazing about of research done in that time, including great applying human-style reasoning as to what makes sense to examine.

    Like what, exactly? I love science -- I ought to, I'm a scientist at a genomics center. But the whole trend of even Earth-bound science is to do as much as possible by machine, and just have the humans look at the *data*. People don't sequence by hand any more -- there are automated sequencing machines. So the whole idea of manned spaceflight just looks anachronistic to me -- something out of the 19th century age of gentlemen explorers. As far as science is concerned, robots in space are far more useful than people. They just make less exciting TV.
  • by willtsmith (466546) on Friday January 16, 2004 @06:28PM (#8003548) Journal
    Actually one way tickets were how America was founded like 250 years ago. Probably took as long for those ships to get here from England as it is going to take a manned space ship to get to Mars, so ...

    The big difference being:

    1) North America has a breathable atmosphere.
    2) That atmosphere keeps the sun from turning you to mush.
    3) There was liquid water.
    4) There was food.
    5) The journey was privately financed.
    6) Home was just 3 months away.
    7) Approaching the coast of the US didn't cause a ship to burst into flames.

    Don't give me that colonization crap. If we truly had a need for a new landmass, we would colonize Antarctica. It has 1,000 times more available resources and would be a billions of times cheaper.

  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dubstar (565060) on Friday January 16, 2004 @06:52PM (#8003718)
    To decide that since we aren't quite ready to send someone to Mars and then bring them back home we will instead just do what we can at the moment and send someone to die on Mars is idiotic in the extreme.

    I may be wrong about this, but isn't that the same way the majority of the planet we currently inhabit was 'discovered'?

    There have been plenty of places man has gone that many probably felt they 'weren't ready for', but we went anyways.. And we'll go again in the future. I for one would sign up in an instant, given the chance.. because what -I- think is 'pure, uncut stupidity' is seeing who can hoard the most money before they croak as we suck the life out of this planet.

    But thats just me..
  • Orbit don't land! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Uncle Barnard's Star (714324) on Friday January 16, 2004 @07:13PM (#8003896)
    While Robert Zubrin might not approve of the idea, the cost benefit of marooning the research crew can be approximated by having the crew just orbit Mars or touch down on either Phobos or Deimos. This way you do away with the excess baggage of having human quality landing gear and a liftoff vehicle sufficient for Mars gravity.

    The technical advantage of having humans orbit Mars over purely Earth-based mission control is that, the speed of light being as it is, you get the capability of operating your Mars rovers near realtime. With a VR kit (supplied by say game developers eager for the "Made for Mars" seal of approval), you could get the feeling of humans being actually on the surface of Mars.

    Of course, you also miss the benefits of having the crew land on Mars, like gravity and the possibility of living off the land. I suspect the glorified asteroids, Phobos and Deimos, might have enough frozen gas resources to provide the modest thrust needed for artifical gravity. A side mission to one of the satellites could be made just for the purpose of mining ice. The main crewed orbiter itself stays a safe distance away.

  • How sad. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Friday January 16, 2004 @07:31PM (#8004025) Homepage Journal
    Having so many examples of heroism and unselfishness in the history of humanity you think that our most important embassador would not raise to the occasion.

    I believe any normal person would made us proud, for a rare ocassion, to be humans.
  • by Grail (18233) on Friday January 16, 2004 @08:15PM (#8004262) Journal
    C'mon, tell me you haven't been thinking about this already?

    We send 14 men and women to Mars, and we watch every waking moment of everyone's lives through cameras in every conceivable location. As tensions rise, Big Brother gets to vote them off the island, and they go to... the... um... other side of the island.

    The programme could start on Earth, in Mars simulations and "team building" exercises. We should start now to develop the techniques that will be needed to help 14 people cope with each others' company for 2 years at a time. Starting with day-long "Mars on Earth" expeditions (camping in the desert, in the arctic, in underwater habitats, etc) and work up to the final pre-mission selection camp - 6 months in Anchorage, Alaska.

    Imagine the advances we'd be able to make in psychology when we have access to situations where we could experiment with stress handling and counselling techniques? Wouldn't that pay for itself?

    As a lead-up to the Mars expedition, move all those robot-vs-robot competitions to the desert, then the Moon. The only entry criteria for the Moon and Mars robot-vs-robot competitions would be that you get there. The robot that retrieves the most useful scientific data wins - the competition being the Lunar/Martian environment (and other robots).

    Wouldn't you love to be one of the first owners of domestic robots who have "Moon Muscle 1" as their ancestors? Not only does it vacuum the carpet and prune the roses, but it can kick the Roomba's arse...

    Perhaps there could also be "lifestyle" shows, where people come up with new and amazing ways to decorate a 2m x 2m x 2m bunk module, cook in an all-electric kitchen module, grow exciting (and mind-altering) herbs in the garden module, and do make-overs of each others' recreation modules. We'd also have the "adult" segment - voyerism to the extreme as we explore sex in low-G, and find new and exciting ways of pleasuring the person we've been bonking non-stop for 18 months... and then we can redefine that stupid "wife swap" show. The mind boggles and the hedonistic opportunities presented.

    And don't forget the opportunity for current affairs programs such as, "A Mars Affair", "The Late Show: Starring Martian Letterman".

    But we should be careful to send people other than scientists to Mars. Sure, absolutely include geologists, microbiologists (for the "practical science" on Mars), chemists and physicists (for the "research science"), but they'll need horticulturists, photographers, cameramen, a poet and a singer/songwriter. Don't let Spirit and Opportunity get all the credit for being the "Ansel Adams of Mars" - get some human photographers up there who can do lanscape shots for the sake of art, rather than navigation.

    I can't wait till I can have such contrasting pictures as Little Fisher Falls (a Tasmanian waterfall) sitting right next to a Gusev Crater panorama. Wow.

    So there we go - an entire pantheon of entertainment prospects that would allow the space program to be entirely funded from pay-per-view media.

    The next step will be to find some resources that the Moon and Mars can provide that are unique - the cheesy souvenir rock pets for starters. I wonder if herbs grown on Mars would have unique flavour properties compared to those grown here on Earth? Imagine parsley that's twice as expensive as Terran saffron ;)

    So there you go - start off with all the robot-geek shows where we slice, dice and experiement our way to the top of the survival heap. Boost rocketry and extra-Terrestrial manufacturing to the scale required for consumer launches (manufacturing robots in space would be cheaper than building them on Earth and launching them to the Moon or Mars).

    Once we get space elevators or sling-rides up and running, we can start with the human voyagers.

    What do you reckon? Any grain of sense in my babbling?
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dossen (306388) on Friday January 16, 2004 @09:41PM (#8004727)
    One thing I think you fail to see, is that on the list of places to be colonized Mars is high on the list (since there are not many places on earth that are yet uninhabited (the bottom of the ocean maybe, but that is also not without risk)). One required part of a colonization effort is the actual colonists, which in this case would be the astrounauts. They would then explore, build, and learn how to live on Mars (or die trying), and as the project progress they might be joined by additional voluntiers hitching a ride on the biannual supply rocket.
    While I'm not personally enough of an explorer type to want to go on those conditions, I think that the concept is fine. And given the things people sacrifice their lives for, I think it would be a fine cause. And I think that the decision about which odds the astrounauts are willing to risk should be left to them, let society discuss whether the mission gives benefits proportional to the resources spent (count the ACTUAL cost of the astrounauts lives if you will, but unless you want to stop any progress of the human race, you need to accept that every step forward caries a cost lives (sometimes a potential risk, other times people WILL die to make a better world for all of us)). Plus - you are forgetting that if the astrounauts survive long enough they might get a ride home on the spaceships that are developed using the knowledges gained from getting the astrounauts out there in the first place. Or maybe they will call home and ask for some chemical processing equipment to be put into the next resupply rocket, and start the first gas-station outside the earths gravitywell. Then it is not a true one-way trip, it is just a dangourous voyage with a high risk of not coming home, something that explorers and soldiers have dealt with since the dawn of time.
    In short: Let the people who are putting their lives on the line decide what odds they will take, and what potential gain they think is worth their lives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2004 @10:52PM (#8005069)
    The poster is a person, just like you are and I am. "Going to Mars" is not a "thing", it's a human activity which that human being wants to do. If you believe in "people first", how about giving some weight to everybody's life, including the lives of people who *need* to explore the universe around them?
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mec (14700) <mec@shout.net> on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:03PM (#8005146) Journal
    I'm probably going to die, and so are you. In fact, no human being has ever reached 2^16 days of life.

    Face it: your life is a finite resource. There are things you can do to conserve and extend that resource. But at the end of each day, you've traded that day for whatever love or money or experience or creative work or good deads or hedonism that you chose.

    Plenty of people make commitments longer than a day. If you go to school, you trade years of your life in exchange for knowledge and socialization. If you play music, you spend a lot of time practicing. If you want to be a doctor or a politician or a writer or just about anything worthwhile, that's years of experience that you'll need to accumulate.

    So now we're talking about a life commitment. It's just a bigger scale. Whether it's worthwhile or not is an empirical decision which properly belongs to the individual who decides how to commit their life.
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:12PM (#8005183)
    And I'd like to add that I haven't a single fucking doubt that not one person talking on this message board about giving their life for a years worth of research (on a planet that's going to be there for a very long time) is qualified in any way to actually do it. I seriously doubt that any of them could contribute in any way to such a mission.

    Find the people who have the skills, brains, and talent to actually do this and you're going to find a bunch of people who are smart enough not to want to go until there's some real benefit and the plan is sound.

    The people talking in here are just sounding off with no real expectation of it happening. It's heroism with a condom on. No real danger, no real possibility of danger.
  • Re:Freeze them! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ryanvm (247662) on Friday January 16, 2004 @11:52PM (#8005346)
    I'm pretty sure you'd feel like a complete moron when after the first 3 hours you're thinking "shit, I could've got the same effect in Arizona".

    Seriously, what exactly is worth dying for on Mars?

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