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Mars Space Transportation Science

Scientists Propose One-Way Trips To Mars 839

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thousands-would-do-it dept.
vortex2.71 writes "Invoking the spirit of Star Trek in a scholarly article entitled 'To Boldly Go,' two scientists contend human travel to Mars could happen much more quickly and cheaply if the missions are made one-way. They argue that it would be little different from early settlers to North America, who left Europe with little expectation of return. 'The main point is to get Mars exploration moving,' said Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University, who wrote the article in the latest Journal of Cosmology with Paul Davies of Arizona State University. The colleagues state — in one of 55 articles in the issue devoted to exploring Mars — that humans must begin colonizing another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on Earth."
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Scientists Propose One-Way Trips To Mars

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  • Little difference? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IrquiM (471313) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:04PM (#34232022) Homepage
    At least they could breathe and had water when the colonized America.
    • by huckamania (533052) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:07PM (#34232070) Journal

      Just ship corpses, which will save a lot of money and time trying to figure out how to keep the humans alive on the way there.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:10PM (#34232154) Homepage Journal
        Well, if sending LIVE people...is this voluntary, or can we vote who goes to Mars one way.

        Frankly, I've got a LOT of politicians in mind that I'd happily vote off the planet!!

        :)

        But seriously, if nothing else, why not take volunteers from people on death row, that were sufficiently intelligent? Go through training, go to Mars, stay there and you get to live.

        I figure some of them might take the choice, and we'd be solving a few problems at once that way...

        • by sick_soul (794596) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:15PM (#34232244)

          hey I am not in a death row, and I would volunteer. I am already well trained for that mission.
          If they provide enough resources for a lifetime, I would not feel more alone on Mars than right now here among billions of people who do not give a shit about me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Partaolas (1926386)
          Why is everyone assuming that the "colonists" will die within days of arrival? I am willing to bet that there will be lots of volunteers for one-way missions to Mars (provided good chances of survival).
          • by Narishma (822073) on Monday November 15, 2010 @03:10PM (#34234078)

            I'm pretty sure there would still be many volunteers even if they would die the moment they arrive.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by obarthelemy (160321)

          i'm sure sending a bunch of violent, possibly psychopatic murderers, is a great idea...

        • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:31PM (#34232460)

          But seriously, if nothing else, why not take volunteers from people on death row, that were sufficiently intelligent?

          I already see the ad. "NASA looking for experienced geologists and planetologists. Requirements: at least 2 PhDs, at least 1 capital offense. Must be willing to relocate. Huge travel bonuses!"

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:05PM (#34232972)

            But seriously, if nothing else, why not take volunteers from people on death row, that were sufficiently intelligent?

            I already see the ad. "NASA looking for experienced geologists and planetologists. Requirements: at least 2 PhDs, at least 1 capital offense. Must be willing to relocate. Huge travel bonuses!"

            Hans Reiser?

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:33PM (#34233476)

            In other future news,

            In recent months, there was a significant rise in capital offenses. Criminologists are puzzled by the shift in intelligence level of the offenders; one in twenty convicts now has at least one PhD title.

        • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:14PM (#34233112) Homepage Journal
          I agree that Mars will be a bit quiet, but internet connectivity will be slow to continue from there the development of reiserfs.
    • by cronco (1435465) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:07PM (#34232078)
      They had to spend months with only what drinkable water they could carry, which was at that time as daunting as it is now to carry the fuel(energy) needed to get to Mars
    • by euyis (1521257) <euyis&infinity-game,com> on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:09PM (#34232130)
      Look at the brighter side - there're no dangerous animals and agressive natives to worry about!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Yep. At least back when the US colonization was occurring, there were no expectations of support from "back home".

      Any settlers to Mars would need certain things provided to them, regularly, for the foreseeable future (at least a year or two):

      * air
      * food
      * water

      Nobody capable of handling the low-G environment and able to improve the living situation there is going to mess around with that when the agency funding the trips says, "we're only sending you there, for financial reasons". That does not invoke a feel

      • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:32PM (#34232478) Journal

        Any settlers to Mars would need certain things provided to them, regularly, for the foreseeable future (at least a year or two):

        * air
        * food
        * water

        There's no technical reason not to launch all the equipment the settlers would need to be self sufficient in those areas all at once in a Project Orion [wikipedia.org] vehicle.

      • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:15PM (#34233146)

        Yeah, we're much bigger pussies than we were 70 years ago. It's not that we lack the volunteers who would happily take on all these risks. We don't have a public that would allow people to volunteer in the first place. I think that's the first problem: A miserable hero suffering and dying on Mars is just too depressing for the collective consciousness.

        The second problem is that we don't really know much about self-sustaining sealed-off human habitats. We only did one experiment on this in the 90's, learned amazing stuff, but inexplicably we designated the experiment a "failure" and decided to learn nothing from it. All similar research was abandoned. To me, continuing with this research is the obvious and right way to ramp up for a useful Martian trip. The other obvious research we need to do: Autonomous (robotic) mining and mineral processing. Both of these paths of research would have important spinoffs useful here on Earth, and both could be done independently of NASA because the research doesn't need to have anything to do with space.

        We don't need big breakthroughs to make Martian station work. But the things that we do need, we're making no effort to acquire.

  • by alen (225700) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:05PM (#34232032)

    try to serve someone with a lawsuit there

  • Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be unemployed, they could get him for recruitment ads for one-way astronauts.

    "Get your ass to Mars! Then stay there and form a colony."

    Overall the idea of sending pioneers seems like a good one to me, although it also seems like we have a long way to go yet in the terraforming science to make it work?

  • There's a bunch of people that I wouldn't mind sending one way to mars! Or the Sun.

  • OK Boys (Score:5, Funny)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:07PM (#34232072)
    OK boys, I need someone to take one for the team. The world will celebrate your sacrifice long after you perish on this journey. We'll even see if David Bowie will do a new version of "Major Tom" for you.
  • by CHK6 (583097) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:07PM (#34232088)
    I think the authors, Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, should be the first to go.
  • Sign me up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NikolaiKutuzov (1226122) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:07PM (#34232094)

    Three years ago I would have happily signed up for such an adventure, even if it was one-way. To be part of that, oh wow. These days, with a wife and a child, I guess I'll envy those who go, but wont be amongst them.

    So I dont thinnk there be volunteers lacking, Even though I dont know wether they ft the general requirements of mental stability to be locked up in a can for a year. Even the early colonists of the Americas expected to make some money and then return. And even in the Americas it was a three month voyage on a ship, not a year in space.

    But hell, what a ride.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      These days, with a wife and a child, I guess I'll envy those who go, but wont be amongst them.

      I had a similar thought, and it made me wonder in turn if this could be a big opportunity for China and their generation of surplus men. If your prospects for a wife are limited, being a Mars pioneer has to look a lot more attractive.

    • I'd go. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fzz (153115) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:22PM (#34233252)
      I'm in my early 40s. In 20 years time (when they'd be ready) I'll be in my early 60s. My kids will have left home, and I'll be looking forward to an unexciting retirement. I'm reasonably fit, I've got 20 years of experience as a scientist, some experience as a pilot, and I'm a pretty good general purpose engineer. I'm also pretty self-reliant. Probably roughly the sort of person they'd want.

      Would I go? You bet I would. I'm quite serious. I'd far rather do something incredible and useful with the little time I have left than sit around gardening or playing golf.

      I'd still go if I knew there were only enough resources to last me 6 months on Mars, and then I had to quietly pop the little red pill. Trading 6 months doing something completely amazing for 20 (expected) rather boring years going slowly senile seems a pretty good trade to me. I'll bet there are quite a few people like me out there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Heck, I've got a wife and child too, and I'd sign up just to get away from them!
  • "Non-Survivor: Mars!" "Suicide Settlers" "Reds: All Out!"
  • ...by sending Wall Street and some of the Lehman Bros. folks over.

    (yes, modbombers, that includes Kasich)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by greebowarrior (961561)
      Not really the kind of people we want to use to seed life on another planet. Perhaps they could set up the first colony on the Sun instead...
  • by smash (1351) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:09PM (#34232146) Homepage Journal
    ... the chinese most certainly will.
  • Just pass a law that says if you're on mars the government will pay off your sub-prime mortgage and you'll have a plethora of volunteers in minutes.
  • I nominate Steven Hawking.

    And George Soros since it will require a billionaire to fund it.

  • The first piece of logic on a one way trip is make it work or die. Survival is a strong motivator both for those being sent and for those who are gambling with the lives of others. If the odds of success are good, then I don't have a problem with it. This level of decision making happens daily with medical issues of "operator or die in xx months."

    The second piece of logic is that every-thing that goes stays. Modular tech design and repurposing could provide additional resources that would take longer/mu

  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:23PM (#34232360) Journal
    It's not going to happen. At least not in the western world. The US space program is highly political. NASA requires the good will of the congress. Since it would not be politically favourable to send people on a one way mission, NASA would never get funding for it.
  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:32PM (#34232466)

    "that humans must begin colonizing another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on Earth"

    I wonder what fraction of the populace cares about the continuation of the human race. Do you? If a rogue planet were to one day pass through our solar system and smash earth on its way by, would you care about colonists on Mars continuing our culture and genetics? If you do care, why? If not, why not?

  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:39PM (#34232574) Homepage Journal

    Idgarad's Martian Clause

    "If at any point a scientist professes the colonization of Mars, and in the course of that profession, cites early settlers on Earth, has in fact declaired himself a moron."

    A: When settler's got to the new land, they was an abundance of natural resources to sustain life.
    B: The gravity, radiation, and climate was similar.
    C: The general rules of survival remained the same.
    D: The air was breathable
    E: The water, drinkable
    F: The atmosphere was the same and thick enough to stop micro-meteors
    G: The natural resources that were available for building were easily accessable in the form of lumber allowing simple expansion.
    H: They didn't have to contend with 100 mile wide volcanoes and lethal radiation
    I: The journey to the "New World" was measured in months, not years.
    J: The trip was relatively low cost per lbs compared to space travel

    NONE OF THE ABOVE APPLIES TO A TRIP TO MARS.

    I am all for heading to Mars but any comparison to early Earth settlers is about as productive as comparing, just about anything, to Nazis. Thus the IMC is the Martian equavalent to Godwin's Law.

    Godwin's Law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

    The Godwin Observation: The validity and quality of a discussion can be measured by the length of time it takes to compare something in the conversation to Nazis. Alternatively: The duration of a conversion prior to a reference to Nazis implies it's general quality with the exception of conversations actually pertaining to Nazis.

    Gabriel's Law: Internet + Anonimty = Total and complete Fuckwad. Alternatively: Given a forum and anonymity most people act like assholes.

    Idgarad's Martian Clause: "If at any point a scientist professes the colonization of Mars, and in the course of that profession, cites early settlers on Earth, has in fact declaired himself a moron." Alternatively: The comparison of space colonization to early american settlers by a scientist invalidates all credibility said scientist once had by ignoring the overwhelming differences between the two.

    The Godwin Disclaimer
    "I do openly declaire that the conversation at hand does indeed involve Nazis and as such Godwin's Law and The Godwin Observation do not apply."

  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:52PM (#34232776)

    If humans screw up the earth to the point where it becomes unlivable, our species deserves to just become extinct.

  • save the humans! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dAzED1 (33635) <`brianlamere' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:02PM (#34232910) Homepage Journal
    "humans must begin colonizing another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on Earth" For the love of G-d and all that is holy, why must we? If we have the technology to make Mars habitable, then we have the technology to fix Earth. If the Earth goes to hell in a handbasket, would humans living on Mars save your life? Why not spend 1/10th that same energy to fixing this place? If we can't straighten out our own house, what the hell makes us think we could make Mars work out? Such a trip would be nothing more than billions upon billions of dollars, pulled from the taxes of hundreds of millions of people, just to pander to the selfish dreams of a very small number of people. Spend that money on making a light rail system spanning the US, clean energy sources (solar, wind, etc), and you'll have lots left over; and then it helps save this planet, for the benefit of billions of current earthlings, plus all generations to come. Or...spend the money to send a couple dozen people to Mars, so they can...do jack for the rest of us. One key thing to keep in mind - most of the people who went from Europe to the US back in the day either paid their own way, or were sent specifically so they could gather resources to send back. The idea that it was a one-way trip is true only for the people who paid their own way. So if a few billionaires want to get together and send themselves to Mars, I'm not going to stop them. But why the hell should I pay for someone else to go?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0123456 (636235)

      If we don't build a sustainable population off this planet in the next few decades, we die.

      Be it political insanity, DNA-engineered disease, some eco-weenie dropping an asteroid on us to save Gaia from the evil humans or a natural disaster, we don't have long left. Humans already have the power to destroy most life on Earth in a very expensive manner, and pretty soon they'll have the power to do so in a fairly cheap manner. Once that power exists, it will be used by someone, somewhere.

      Mars is a dumb place t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thethibs (882667)
      "Catastrophe" doesn't mean what you think it means. You're confusing it with "tragedy".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      If we have the technology to make Mars habitable, then we have the technology to fix Earth.

      Terraforming Mars over hundreds of years and several generations is a lot different than fixing Earth after it has been slammed my a large chunk of rock like those that have hit in the past and nearly wiped out everything, or those in the past that did things like ... you know ... turning the planet into one giant ball of molten rock.

      When your data center burns down, its not really hard to rebuild it and start over, h

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tom (822)

      Nice, but missing the point. The problem of a "catastrophic event" is not that global warming will kill us all. We can fix that. Well, maybe we can. What we can't fix is a piece of rock the size of Greater London falling on our heads and wiping out 90% of the life forms on the planet once more.

  • I'll go. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RMingin (985478) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:24PM (#34233298) Homepage
    Send me, a half dozen inflatable greenhouses, enough plants to eat/breathe from, and some quonset-type buriable shelters. I'll be standing by for any other stuff you'd like done, can get a lot more science done than a rover, and will be happy to have my paycheck handed over to my wife and kids here. Of course, if you end up sending along my wife and kids, and some other folks, I'll plant a flag, declare independence, and do my best to sieze the planet as soon as I'm self-sufficient.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Send me, a half dozen inflatable greenhouses, enough plants to eat/breathe from, and some quonset-type buriable shelters.

      If this is a real interest, you could buy a square mile of desert for a few dollars and do pretty much the same thing on earth. Just hold your breath anytime you're outside of your hut. No need for NASA's help.

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