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Space Science

The Dusty Concern for the Mission to Mars 174

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the doing-a-martian-line dept.
eldavojohn writes "Astronauts sent to the red planet may find much of their job involving the task of dusting off their equipment and suits. The president says we're going there but the dusty planet has some obstacles and uncertainties for engineers because we don't have a sample of Martian dust. Is it toxic? Will it conduct electricity and short circuits? Will astronauts suffer from the triboelectric effect? How large is the average grain? Will humans be allergic to it? Will sinuses jeopardize a mission? Will a dust storm stop a take off and return flight? So many uncertainties from something as simple as dust but one thing is clear — we need samples!"
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The Dusty Concern for the Mission to Mars

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  • by cupofjoe (727361) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:53PM (#19831163)
    Actually, there's some body of work that describes a larger problem for Lunar explorers, although the Martian problem isn't anything to sneeze at, either. Pun intended.

    As TFA points out, the lack of weathering processes on Luna leaves the dust/regolith mainly as sharp-edged grains, which actually gives them incredible abrasive power. This poses an enormous problem for mechanical assemblies that have any wear surfaces. The Apollo astronauts, IIRC, went through a couple pairs of suit gloves each simply from the wear of the dust on their metallic glove locking rings.

    Martian dust might have a similar range of effects, but I hadn't heard of the "toxic dust" issue, yet; that's the interesting bit. Silicosis of the lungs and related disorders, yes; toxicity, no. Yikes.

    Toxic dust makes me think of the blended iPhone. "Don't breathe this." Sorry, that's another article...

    -joe.
    • The real question which everyone is missing is what does it smell like? Everyone knows moondust smells of Gunpowder [nasa.gov] so does martian dust smell of some other medieval technology (perhaps mead?)
      • The real question which everyone is missing is what does it smell like? Everyone knows moondust smells of Gunpowder [nasa.gov] so does martian dust smell of some other medieval technology (perhaps mead?)
        I am guessing Mars smells like Slim Whitman.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      However, if they were able to go to the moon in 1969 and deal with the dust there, where AFAIK they didn't have a sample of lunar dust either, then I think that in 2007 we should have no problem dealing with Martian dust. I find it kind of amazing that we went to the moon so long ago, and yet we are still having people say that the next time we will go to the moon will be 2020 [wikipedia.org], when the first time we went to the moon was 8 years after the first person landed on the moon.
      • when the first time we went to the moon was 8 years after the first person landed on the moon.

        I suspect you mean 8 years after the first person journeyed into space.
        • >> when the first time we went to the moon was 8 years after the first person landed on the moon.

          > I suspect you mean 8 years after the first person journeyed into space.

          By "we" he meant the US. It's a well known fact in UFO-spotting circles that alien abductees had been taken to the moon, other planets and even other solar systems well before 1969.

          For more details on this and other suppressed facts contact your nearest UFO expert; just look under "insane asylum" in the phone book.
      • However, if they were able to go to the moon in 1969 and deal with the dust there, where AFAIK they didn't have a sample of lunar dust either, then I think that in 2007 we should have no problem dealing with Martian dust.

        I wouldn't be so sure.

        Remember that our first dealing with lunar dust was July 20th, 1969, where astronauts spent a whopping 2 and a half hours outside and something like 22 hours total on the lunar surface. So, to use a fun example, if Martian dust is as abrasive as lunar dust and it's blowing around, this might just have an affect on astronaut spacesuits and such. Considering the expense of going to Mars, yes, I do expect the first mission to spend more than 2 hours outside and 22 hours on the surface.

  • The surface of Mars looks just fine in every movie I've seen, so it shouldn't be a big problem. Obviously these engineers haven't been paying attention.
  • Oh for crissakes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617)
    Just put together another pair of Mars Rovers and update them to answer those questions and to survive better than the ones down there now. The two rovers on Mars now have been ridiculously successful and have outlived their expected lives tremendously. So not only should we send improved rovers, we should send tools, equipment and supplies there too. Perhaps some rovers capable of assembling structures to house the eventual human guests. I think there's little doubt we can do it. So why aren't we? (y
    • The two rovers on Mars now have been ridiculously successful and have outlived their expected lives tremendously.
      They were expected to fail within months because of dust.
      They didn't, but apparently that's not enough for people to see that dust isn't that big of a deal. Meh.
    • Just put together another pair of Mars Rovers and update them to answer those questions and to survive better than the ones down there now.

      Ah, if it were only that easy.

      The problem is, answering those questions means a fairly heavy (as such things go) automated laboratory in place of the fairly light (as such things go) robotic arm and sensors... Which means the existing airbag design (which has already been stretched beyond it's limits) will have to stretched yet further - or replaced entirely.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And then suffer a historically 50/50 chance of losing it somewhere between launch and landing. Everyone seems to forget that Mars is a space probe graveyard.
  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:59PM (#19831243)
    Another as of yet unanswered question about Martian rock:

    Will it blend?

    (Sorry, but I just discovered the videos today, so my view of the universe if somewhat blendocentric)
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:05PM (#19831337) Journal
    While we don't have any vials handy full of Martian dust, can't at least some of this be within the parameters of Spirit and Opportunity? They have the cameras, (IIRC) rudimentary chemical analysis equipment, and likely enough instrumentation to get us at least some of the data we need as per size, quantity... the rest can be extrapolated fairly easily, save for the biological potentials (at least in that the question "are there germs in there?" probably won't be answered immediately...)

    IIRC, the Mars rovers were originally (at least in concept, before budgetary reality set in) designed to drag back a sample or two. Why not build a mission that, you know, does what the original plans intended them to do in that regard? If nothing else, get up something with better instrumentation; Viking 1 and 2 were supposed to have the tools to answer nearly all of the questions, though they had been found to be flawed in many respects and hampered by things which today's tech has a better chance of overcoming.

    Dunno... just sounds too easy to dismiss in light of all the ungodly extrapolation that we are capable of from mere astronomy, let alone what we can bring to bear with instruments on the ground there right now.

    /P

    • by Rakishi (759894)

      Why not build a mission that, you know, does what the original plans intended them to do in that regard?

      Money. such a mission is more expensive and complex thus failure would not only be more likely but also more costly. The original sample return mission got canned after the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander failures. There is a new sample return mission planned but it likely won't launch before the late 2010s. Also the Russians are planning a mission to get soil from Phobos.

  • dead skin (Score:4, Funny)

    by dwater (72834) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:06PM (#19831351)
    I thought it was well known that the majority of dust was made up from dead skin....
  • Can we stop pretending we're going to send astronauts to Mars? There's is no way we're going to spend the enormous amount of money required to do it, and we don't even know if the astronauts can survive the radiation exposure on the trip.

    Besides the fact that it won't be done by any government in the next 30 years, it *shouldn't* be done. I've harped on this before, but it's still true: we could send 1,000 probes similar to the Mars Lander for the price it takes to do a P.R. stunt like sending humans to Mars. Yeah, it's romantic, but if the goal is science, then it's a total waste.

    I like space. I'm a supporter of space. But I think humans should go on the back burner until space exploration is much, much, much more of a mature technology. We don't even have casual trips to orbit, much less the moon, much less significant space stations, and much, much less Mars.

    Let's be rational about space exploration and let an army of robots do the work, instead of a few fragile, expensive humans.

    • by Zeebs (577100)
      Whats the point of learning anything about it if you don't intend to go there. If we're so afraid to risk a few of our best that are fully aware of the risk involved why are we bothering with sending any probes at all. The money in that case could be better utilized with a primary focus on bettering human life on earth. Why bother with a big rock that will always be very far away from us at all.

      Also before anyone starts with the arguement about the tertiary earthside benefits of developing and sending the p
      • Whats the point of learning anything about it if you don't intend to go there.

        It's called "science." Just because we don't intend to go to other galaxies doesn't mean we don't study them. Anyway, we might go to Mars someday, but at this point in our technological development, it's a complete waste of time. There's nothing we can get from astronauts that we can't get from a whole slew of probes.

        ...consider the potential benefits derived from learning to live in self contained spaces for long periods o

    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      Yeah, it's romantic, but if the goal is science, then it's a total waste.

      The goal isn't science. The goal is to set the stage for eventual interplanetary colonization.

      Science is great, but not everything having to do with space is science (slashdot's classification of everything space-related under "Science" to the contrary).
      • by Shihar (153932)

        The goal isn't science. The goal is to set the stage for eventual interplanetary colonization.

        If the goal is interplanetary colonization, this is a massive waste of funds. The problem with colonization is NOT the challenges of living on the planet. That is secondary to challenge number one... it is WAY the fuck too expensive to toss stuff out of this gravity well. There are plenty of brave and crazy explorers and pioneers in this world. The reason why half of the US is piled up on the west coast is because there are plenty of people desperate to move forward and that damn sea got in their way.

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:57PM (#19831973) Homepage

      I've harped on this before, but it's still true: we could send 1,000 probes similar to the Mars Lander for the price it takes to do a P.R. stunt like sending humans to Mars.

      That's kinda like substituting 1000 Ford Escorts for a Caterpillar D11. You'll have a lot more metal laying about - but you won't get as much done.
       
       

      I like space. I'm a supporter of space. But I think humans should go on the back burner until space exploration is much, much, much more of a mature technology.

      That's a self defeating argument - as the technology won't mature unless you send people in the first place.
      • That's kinda like substituting 1000 Ford Escorts for a Caterpillar D11. You'll have a lot more metal laying about - but you won't get as much done.

        Give me a 1,000 Ford Escorts with a scoop bolted on the front, and you can have your Caterpillar D11. Sure, the Escort may not be as powerful or as efficient, but I suspect 1,000 of them pushing dirt around would give me a big advantage.

        You know, thinking about it, this is almost the John Henry [wikipedia.org] legend all over again. We have to send a human because a machin

        • That's kinda like substituting 1000 Ford Escorts for a Caterpillar D11. You'll have a lot more metal laying about - but you won't get as much done.

          Give me a 1,000 Ford Escorts with a scoop bolted on the front, and you can have your Caterpillar D11. Sure, the Escort may not be as powerful or as efficient, but I suspect 1,000 of them pushing dirt around would give me a big advantage.

          If merely pushing dirt around was all a D11 did, you'd have a point.

          You know, thinking about it, this is almo

          • by Shihar (153932)

            Let's put it this way... What the two rovers have accomplished in three years? Could be accomplished by two trained field geologists in two *weeks*.

            No doubt, but for the cost it takes to get two trained field geologist there (alive) and keep them breathing for those two weeks (much less get them back alive) you could have dropped a few hundred (or thousand?) Mars rovers on the planet. You could have made a massive kick ass, nuclear powered lab with dozen different robots as big as soccer mom's SUV with all the equipment you could ever dream of.

            Moving humans is hard and expensive. We eat, we breath air, we need to move around, and our muscles tend to

      • by Agripa (139780)
        If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use: Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens? - Seymour Cray
    • by Anti_Climax (447121) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:04PM (#19832035)
      If we actually buckled down and started the project, we could do it for about 3Bn a year for about a decade, using current tech. As far away as mars is, it's actually much easier to have a sustainable hands off mission when that little bit of atmosphere is present, as compared to the moon or ISS. While we could have 200 of the "Better, faster, cheaper" probes sent to mars for the same amount, having 4 or 5 people there that can actually cover more than 100 meters of ground in a day or seek out interesting geological features without waiting for someone else to suggest it, can translate into a lot more useful science being done. Beyond that, if the Mars Direct [wikipedia.org] approach is used, we won't have to stop working if there's a dust storm blocking 99% of the sunlight.

      You do make good points, but there are some things that are cheaper and easier to do using fragile expensive humans.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Keep harping, because human will go to Mars, and the Human race will be better for it.

      We like to make goals, and be triumphant. When you look at human nature,Mars is the next logical choice to send people.

      Yes, robots will play a role. In preparation, aid, and to continue to do things after we leave. We will go, just so we can push out are chests, point to a bright point in the sky and say "We conquered the obstacles to get there, sent people and got them home."

      That is why we dominate, and that is why man is
    • Can we stop pretending we're going to send astronauts to Mars

      Have a look at these plans [time.com] from 1969.

      Moments before Apollo 11 's booster lifted off from Cape Kennedy last July, Spiro Agnew declared that the nation's next major space goal should be a manned landing on Mars by the end of the century.

      In a later refinement explained in the article, the least ambitious (cheapest) plan the manned Mars landing at 1990. I figure we probably had a manned mission to Mars fifteen or twenty years ago, but no one rememb

    • by mpaque (655244)
      Can we stop pretending we're going to send astronauts to Mars?

      Of course. Think of all the urgent projects we need to fund here, like bridges to nowhere in Alaska, or touring polka groups to entertain the few troops remaining on their bases in the South, or replacing all that spent ammunition and broken military hardware, or invading Iran.

      Stop wasting money in space, and lets get on with our proper business of wasting money here on Earth while killing each other off. It's our real purpose in life, after al
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shadowlore (10860)
      you hate it so much you have to make assertions that are false? For example:
      Can we stop pretending we're going to send astronauts to Mars? There's is no way we're going to spend the enormous amount of money required to do it, and we don't even know if the astronauts can survive the radiation exposure on the trip.

      Please. We know the risks, and they are not lethal. Maybe you don't know, but to say "we" don't is absolute BS. The radiation in space is called Cosmic Radiation, and about half of the radiation exp
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eyewhin (944625)
      You have obviously never heard of the Genesis Rock. During the Apollo 15 mission, a rock was picked up by astronaut Scott, which he, by seeing it, felt that it was something special. It turned out that it was a very special rock. The point is, while robots are good at collecting samples and analyzing information, human beings are way ahead in the area of reasoning, an important trait when visiting unknown places.
    • by Kopretinka (97408)

      I think humans should go on the back burner until space exploration is much, much, much more of a mature technology. We don't even have casual trips to orbit, much less the moon, much less significant space stations, and much, much less Mars.

      I beg to differ.

      Let's instead make it easy for cheap, expendable humans (aka adventurers, explorers, treasure hunters) to go out there; they will then pave the road for the rest of us quicker than a thousand probes.

  • by rimcrazy (146022) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:15PM (#19831451)
    A liberal guise to stop the Republican agenda. Just like those nasty Surgeon Generals and all of their "Real Science"
  • Sex, anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:23PM (#19831539)
    I wonder when the issue of sex in space will be taken seriously, and studies undertaken in that area. American may like to avoid the subject, but to most Europeans both Western and Eastern, its a well known reality. If we're going to take long missions to places like Mars, sex better be understood to be something that's going to happen. And I'm not talking about solitary masturbation...
  • "Hey, it's that 'the barbecue's over' sound again!"
  • by pln2bz (449850) * on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:32PM (#19831667)
    NASA would be wise to also carefully contemplate what is inducing the dust to rise to form dust storms in the first place. They already have access to THEMIS images from the Mars Odyssey Mission that suggest that there is filamentation of Martian dust storms at both the leading and trailing edges. For a sample image (there are others too), go to:

    http://themis.asu.edu/zoom-20060512a [asu.edu]

    Furthermore, we also know that Martian dust devils can contain lightning bolts at their cores:

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/14jul_dust devils.htm [nasa.gov]

    In addition to that, we also know that firsthand accounts from people who have seen the inside of a tornado and lived to tell about it indicate that tornadoes here on Earth tend to shimmer like a fluorescent light from the inside. This is typically obstructed from the outside by dust. There's a brief mention here. I'm sure there are other sources for this information:

    http://library.thinkquest.org/C003603/english/torn adoes/insidetheeye.shtml [thinkquest.org]

    This could indicate that tornadoes and Martian dust devils are actually both electrical plasmas, and that the electrical activity is inducing the vortex -- not the other way around.

    It is possible that vortexes are the natural result of the right-hand rule within electrodynamics. Peter Thomson's Charge Sheath Vortex site is an excellent tutorial on how this may be so:

    http://www.peter-thomson.co.uk/tornado/fusion/Char ge_sheath_vortex_basics_for_tornado.html [peter-thomson.co.uk]

    He demonstrates his point at the end by creating a miniature vortex using electricity in a petri dish.

    My point here is that NASA should seriously consider that the Martian dust is molecularly bipolar and is responding to solar and other electrical plasmas that are affecting the Martian planet. The evidence from both Mars and Earth suggests that it is a possibility.

    We already know for a fact that upper atmosphere lightning exists. The weather scientists told us that this was not possible, and they were proven to be wrong. It's now easy to find pictures of upper-atmosphere sprites on the web. Try these:

    http://usjma.jp/~sprite/sprite2005.11pic.html [usjma.jp]

    http://www.usjma.jp/~kaminari/Sprite%202006/S%2020 06%20%203/sprite2006.3.13.html [usjma.jp]

    http://www.usjma.jp/~kaminari/Gallery/Gallery%20SP RITE/galleryhome.html [usjma.jp]

    http://www.usjma.jp/~kaminari/Gallery/Gallery%20SP RITE/Carrot/gscar01.html [usjma.jp]

    So, why isn't it possible that they could also be wrong about current theories about tornadoes? And why in the world are those dust storms filamentary? When we see enigmatic features on Mars, we should create future missions to follow that data. As of recently, NASA has been exclusively following their script instead of the anomalies. We need to be doing both.
  • My posted content re: gettting off of this third rock [slashdot.org], and do not neglect the one reply to the post either. Also, for the experimentalists out there I have some collected bookmarks re: aerospace, DIY jet engines, etc. [heybryan.org].
  • by tgatliff (311583) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:46PM (#19831839)
    Certainly we should build space crafts that leave open the option for possible human "passengers", but, in my opinion, our focus should be on building capable and independent robots to do our dirty work for us. The current "boots on the ground" at Mars are great examples. In fact, we are in desperate need right now of moving to true computer intelligence instead of our current programmable logic.

    A level of a 4 year old would actually be sufficient for most applications. Not only is this type of technology useful on world exploration, but it would revolutionize our world. One small example is that burglarly and building fires would become a thing of the past if we had a truely intelligent computer systems monitoring and managing buildings.
  • Oh, all right. I'll go up there and get some damned samples. I had other things to do, but since this seems to be such a big deal to you....
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:16PM (#19832181) Homepage
    Yes, yes, yes,yes,yes, and yes.
    Everything you fear is true, plan for it.

    solution, give the astronauts a pair of leaf blowers to blow each other off before heading back in the habitat, that would reduce dust ingress into the habitat significantly, make all suits banished to the entry room, force a shower in recycled water before entering station.

    They got any hard problems? because industrial complexes have dealt with these problems already for decades.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wildsurf (535389)
      Better solution: Build the habitat 10 meters undergound, pressurized to 1 atmosphere, with a long U-shaped tunnel filled with water, connecting the floor of the habitat to the planet's surface! (Think of the moon pool in The Abyss.) The astronauts can then SWIM back and forth between the surface and the habitat, eliminating the need for a complicated airlock, and ameliorating the dust concerns; it's much easier to get dust off in water than in air. (You'd obviously need to cover and insulate the surface ex
      • by wildsurf (535389)
        Slight correction: due to the lower Martian gravity, the habitat would have to be about 30 meters underground to equalize one atmosphere of pressure. (Or one could use lower total pressure with a higher relative percentage of oxygen.)
  • by kahei (466208) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:24PM (#19832251) Homepage

    There are several much more significant challenges than dust:

    * The lack of any kind of spaceship capable of making the return trip
    * The lack of any kind of system for keeping the crew alive in space for that long
    * The lack of any serious programme to develop the above
    * The lack of the money such a programme would require
    * The lack of the political will to address any of the points above
    * The lack of public interest in any of the points above *this* point

    Overall, I think it's probably not a good idea to burn Earth yet.

    • by Shadowlore (10860)
      Ahh slashdot, where the ignorant can make claims that are false, and have been false for at least a couple decades. What is this, pop-news?

      "The lack of any kind of spaceship capable of making the return trip...the lack of any kind of system for keeping the crew alive in space for that long"

      Yeah, because we can build submarines that operate for 6+ months at a time deep under the sea but not a tin can that can keep people alive in space for that time. You seem to not know about the many humans who have lived
      • by jschrod (172610)
        The big problem for human survival on interplanetary missions is radiation, not vacuum. With our current technology, all astronauts will die when they are sent to Mars, due to lethal radiation where no practical design exists how we can shield it effectively. The current proposals ($n$ meter water, very thick metal shields) are all not feasible.

        And, contrary to your opinion, neither any submarine experience, nor ISS or Mir did contribute anything for the solution of that problem. The GP seems to know more

    • by Hairy1 (180056)
      In the book "The Case for Mars" the case is made for a return trip being made directly from earth. The premise is that we can use a rocket much like the original Saturn. The principle would be to deliver a return ship on he surface of Mars first and have it refuel itself using the carbon dioxide present on mars along with a small nuclear generator - or possibly solar panels for those worried about nuclear generators in space. Once the first mission is a success and there is a viable return spacecraft sittin
  • by BigBadBus (653823) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:58PM (#19832563) Homepage
    Won't there be similar lung related illness like asbestosis on Earth caused by all that dust?
    • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:58AM (#19835579)
      There is a well know problem with some volcanos that produce a lot of very fine ashes. They do not kill many people during the erruption, but many of the people who breathed or swallowed some ashes will suffer from various organs or bones diseases. They are usually very painful ,untreatable and often lethal within years, compared to decades for asbestos (that stays in the lungs).

      So 1- it is worse than asbestos and 2- Since Mars has volacanos and the martian dust is known to also be very fine, there is a real risk they will have similar nasty effects on exposed humans.
  • the big question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Simon Garlick (104721)
    Will it blend?

    Actually, given that everything blended comes out as toxic dust... what happens if you put toxic dust INTO the blender?
  • Mars is a 4 billion year old desert, and they are worried that it might be dusty.
    • by timmarhy (659436)
      i just watched a movie call idiocracy, it's filled people people like you.

      firstly the dust on mar is going to be vastly different to here on earth. no weather or geo activity is going to mean it'll be rough and cut up your lungs if you breath it in meaning you can't let any into the breathing space. we also need to know things like it's ph and other chemical properties to make sure it won't eat through life support equipment.

  • wouldn't the same principles we learnt on the moon apply? sure we need a mission to collect samples purely so we have a test run of getting there and back again. but come on people, most of these questions have been answered in our moon missions.
    • Absolutely.

      Answer 1: a two weeks moon mission was dangerous, very expensive, most Appolo astronauts suffer from glaucoma due to the radiations and we are currently unable to schedulle another one withing the next 5 years.
  • just because the president made some handwaving in the direction of mars doesn't mean it's going to happen... He doesn't actually have any authority to do such a thing, no matter what he says.

    That said, I think that we should be looking into manned space travel, because ultimately we are going to want to send *people* into space. Learning stuff about the geology of mars is nice, but speaking long term the real value of space exploration is that we're going to have people living out there someday.
  • Oh, for chuff's sake (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@eaRASPrthshod.co.uk minus berry> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:03AM (#19835385)
    For chuff's sake, just run a kamikaze mission. Don't even bother about getting the astronauts back. Enough lives are being wasted pointlessly in Iraq and Afghanistan. If a few astronauts give their lives collecting important data which can be sent back to Earth and used to plan a safer mission in future, well, that counts as much more pointful than getting blown to bits in a war there is no hope of winning.
  • ...because we won't go to Mars.

    "The president says we're going there". Sure he is. He's also saying lots of other things.
    He is not, however, financing NASA for this. Yes, they're cutting all kinds of other projects to scrape the money together. But it won't work, simply because they need true support From Above to do so instead of just some babbling.

    I cannot believe that many people think we're really going to Mars any time soon. Sure, we should. Yes, we'd learn lots (always important!). Yes, obviously it's
    • ...because we won't go to Mars.
      "The president says we're going there". Sure he is. He's also saying lots of other things.
      He is not, however, financing NASA for this. Yes, they're cutting all kinds of other projects to scrape the money together. But it won't work, simply because they need true support From Above to do so instead of just some babbling.


      Bush is gone in 18 months. Will you be as quick to blame the next president when he or she also doesn't fund it enough? Or even chops the concept altogethe

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