Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Science

Astronauts As Alien Life Hunters? 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the risk-is-our-business dept.
astroengine writes "Ever since the last NASA space shuttle mission touched down in Florida on July 21, there has been a spirited debate in articles and blogs across the Internet over the future of humans in space. Everyone seems to be asking: What's the point of spending shedloads of cash getting mankind into space when robots can do it at a fraction of the cost? Well, pending any great (and unexpected) advance in robotics, our adaptability in space may be our biggest asset. Ultimately, the hunt for extraterrestrial life may need an astronaut to physically push deeper into space." Also, who wants to let the robots have all the fun?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Astronauts As Alien Life Hunters?

Comments Filter:
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:41PM (#37670138)

    Yes, humans would certainly be a lot better at searching for and finding life in person than any remote robot. But without at least some hint that such life even EXISTS in our solar system outside of earth, that's a pretty bizarre justification for a very expensive and resource-intensive manned space program. And even if it were a reason, if wouldn't justify the last 40 years of the manned space program. If life is out there in this solar system, it's sure as hell not sitting in low earth orbit. You're going to have to go to other planets and moons if you want to find life. And that's going to require a huge investment. Good luck getting that kind of scratch out of a bunch of first-world governments *already* spending way beyond their means.

    This guy is actually proposing building research stations on the moon and Mars. And that's going to be an even bigger investment than just getting there. Is that doable? With enough motivation and money, sure. But that's the kind of motivation that's going to require sacrifice. Would you be willing to see your taxes double to pay for it? Would you be willing to give up one of the big government expenses/entitlements (Social Security, the military, Medicare) and funnel that money to NASA? If your answer is "no" to both of those questions, you can probably forget about your Mars bases. Exploration and colonization that far out isn't going to come cheap. That's going to be a pretty tough sell just to answer the philosophical question "Are we alone?" (especially when the answer may well turn out to be "Yes," at least in this solar system).

    And for anyone who might suggest going *beyond* our solar system, well that's even more crazy/expensive. With the kind of propulsion we have now, even in the best case scenario it would take tens of thousands of years to reach even the closest other solar system. So unless you have a warp engine on the drawing board, you can pretty much forget that.

    • by genner (694963) on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:51PM (#37670322)

      . So unless you have a warp engine on the drawing board, you can pretty much forget that.

      All we need to do is build a ship entirely out of neutrinos.

    • by drakaan (688386) on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:54PM (#37670380) Homepage Journal
      Put me down on the list of people who would gladly give up his social security benefits and pay double his current tax rate if my government would build research stations on the moon and/or mars. I'd bump that up to 2.5x my current rate if they'd relax FAA restrictions on private spaceflight and pump cash into commercial spacecraft development.
      • by danlip (737336) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:00PM (#37670480)

        Put me down as someone who would give up 90% of our military budget for just about any decent science investment (or even indecent ones, like a Mars colony)

        • I'd hit it.

        • by symbolset (646467) *
          The rockets would very quickly become Chinese rockets, and not in a nice friendly "outsourcing" way.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          It looks like there will be another space race soon, with Japan, China, India, Iran, both Koreas, the EU and the US all competing.

          It would be nice if we could work together. Back in the early 60s Kennedy was discussing the possibility of a joint moon mission with the USSR, but his assassination put a stop to that.

      • I'm not a US citizen, but I'd even donate money to the US government, if it meant they'd go public with the Cheyenne mountain complex...

        Joke aside, both you and grandparent make a good point. However, the legal framework for space exploration/exploitation must be laid down first. The one we ahve right now is not exactly conducive, nor enforceable. We need one that lets nations take ownership/stewardship of extraterrestrial territories, an empowered UN authority to oversee spaceflight and extraterrestrial re

      • by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:15PM (#37670692)

        Government is not the answer. NASA has neither the will nor the ability to build stations on the moon or even to reach Mars. Now if China were to land a man on the moon...

        Put your money where your mouth is and donate to or invest in a private organization that shares your goals. They are not only more likely to succeed, but more likely to spend that money wisely and in a way that reflects your interests. Bonus: you might see profits someday.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:23PM (#37670808) Homepage

          I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter....

          But I'm not giving you a dime until you come up with some sort of not-insane business plan. Too bad you can't. There IS NO economic justification for space exploration as of yet. The technology is nowhere near advanced enough. Now, go find some Unobtanium and maybe that will change things. But absent that, it will be governments doing it for government reasons - only a small bit of that will be the advancement of mankind.

          We need a credible enemy. Either the Chinese or aliens, take your pick. I personally prefer the latter since we can control them with decades old hardware.

          • by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:37PM (#37671042)

            GP didn't say anything about the economics of it. He said research base. He said donate. Imagine what NASA could do with twice the funds and none of the Congressional oversight. Now imagine what NASA as we have it now would do with twice the funds (but not guaranteed) and the same amount of Congressional oversight.

            As for a 'not-insane business plan' it seems pretty obvious to me that if you think what is lacking is the technology than that is where you should put your money first.

            • Well you mention a 'private organization who shares your goals' and I'd like to subscribe to their newsletter. Giving some tax deferred money to the government department of your choice, be it NASA, the DEA or whatever floats your boat is a wonderful idea. Some states use that method to fund parks and such. I doubt it would give you as much money as a dedicated lottery however (now that's an idea, a NASA lottery. You get some money, you push the 'launch' button).

              But the kind of money we're talking about

          • by khallow (566160)

            There IS NO economic justification for space exploration as of yet.

            Why say this? We know there are resources in space that are valuable on Earth. The current reason that these aren't viable to extract is because the cost of doing so is too high. That's not going to stay that way. So, for example, we can mine gold in space and sell it on Earth. That's a concrete business plan. The only problem is that currently, the effort probably would cost two or so orders of magnitude more than the return. But there's no reason to expect cost to stay this high.

            And so, it makes some s

          • by LingNoi (1066278)

            There IS NO economic justification for space exploration as of yet.

            Not everything is about money. Billions didn't get poured into CERN to look for the Higgs Boson because they thought they'd make trillions back. We do these things because we think they further our knowledge of the universe.

            • Well, they also have large indirect returns. The simple process of building data collection for the LHC has led to the development a huge amount of distributed data transfer and management technology, and a whole bunch of research into the limitations of TCP/IP over fiber with respect to sustaining maximum throughput rates. That's the data side alone. The possible, very long term products of that research are staggering.

              In the same respect, this is also true of space exploration: the spin-off technologies f

        • by mrxak (727974)

          NASA does have the will. They just don't have the sorts of guaranteed funding to carry out what they want to do.

          • by elrous0 (869638) *

            That's why I coupled motivation AND money in my post. Wanting to go to Mars is not enough. If you called up the average American and asked them "Do you want to see us go to Mars?" You would probably get an 80%+ positive response. But if you followed that up with "Okay, will you send us $200 to help fund it?" that response rate would drop close to 0.

    • by Jeremi (14640) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:00PM (#37670482) Homepage

      Yes, humans would certainly be a lot better at searching for and finding life in person than any remote robot.

      I'm not sure even that is true. Yes, Earth-bound humans are better than software at reasoning things out -- but that can largely be done remotely, as we have seen with the Mars rovers.

      Earth-bound Humans are currently better at many impomptu, lightweight manual tasks than Earth-bound robots -- but are they still better when encumbered in a 200-pound spacesuit, with gloves like oven mitts? I'd argue that a robot (either locally or remotely controlled) might be more agile than a human in that situation, if only because the robot doesn't need to be hermetically sealed into a life-support system that inhibits its movements.

      Which leads to the biggest problem with humans-in-space: humans aren't expendable. If a robot breaks down in space, you can just let it hobble along as best it can, and/or abandon it and send out an identical replacement. If a human being gets sick or dies in space, that is a potential mission-ender, from both a technical and political perspective. Look how long it took NASA to recover from the Challenger disaster -- years of reviews and finger-pointing. With robot missions, OTOH, even a catastrophic failure just means money down the drain, not flag-draped empty coffins and tearful "My Fellow Americans" speeches on the TV. (yes, I know, death is noble and part of the Grand Adventure and all, but it wouldn't take too many iterations of "watch a beloved astronaut die a slow, horrible death on live TV, with bugger all that anyone can do about it" to convince the American public that their dime is better spent elsewhere)

      • "it wouldn't take too many iterations of "watch a beloved astronaut die a slow, horrible death on live TV, with bugger all that anyone can do about it" to convince the American public that their dime is better spent elsewhere"

        Then how is it that not even 2000 iterations of "watch your beloved GI Joe die a horrible death" did manage to convince your American public to expend their dimes anywhere but Iraq/Afghanistan?

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          Then how is it that not even 2000 iterations of "watch your beloved GI Joe die a horrible death" did manage to convince your American public to expend their dimes anywhere but Iraq/Afghanistan?

          That's a good question... the difference is that the government can sell war to the American public by convincing them that it's necessary to keep them safe... the old "better over there than here" argument.

          NASA, OTOH, can't play the fear card. The public (rightly) views space exploration as a non-necessity.

        • by dryeo (100693)

          "it wouldn't take too many iterations of "watch a beloved astronaut die a slow, horrible death on live TV, with bugger all that anyone can do about it" to convince the American public that their dime is better spent elsewhere"

          I understood NASA's plan during Apollo if something went terribly wrong such as the LEM upper-stage not being able to launch, was to just cut of all communication.

      • by qeveren (318805)

        Of course humans are expendable. You just can't shove it in the public's faces like the Challenger incident (I dunno that 'disaster' is the appropriate word) did.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          Of course humans are expendable. You just can't shove it in the public's faces like the Challenger incident (I dunno that 'disaster' is the appropriate word) did.

          The problem is that if you are going to use the drama of human spaceflight as a selling point (as what was advocated in the article) then you pretty much have to "shove it in the public's face". You can't spend weeks and weeks building up the public's interest, and then when something goes wrong simply cut to a commercial and never come back. Doing that would only make the situation worse, since then the TV networks would spend all their time talking about "the coverup" instead. ;^)

          For better or worse, NA

      • by khallow (566160)

        Earth-bound Humans are currently better at many impomptu, lightweight manual tasks than Earth-bound robots -- but are they still better when encumbered in a 200-pound spacesuit, with gloves like oven mitts?

        We don't have to guess. The outcome of the Apollo program demonstrate that humans still do better than robots for this sort of task.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          The outcome of the Apollo program demonstrate that humans still do better than robots for this sort of task.

          The Apollo program ended in 1972. I don't think you can use 1960's-era technology to draw useful conclusions about the robots of today. Keep in mind that the primary challenge for robots is cognition, and that the $300 smart phone sitting in your pocket has more computing capability than all the computers in the Apollo program combined.

          • by khallow (566160)

            I don't think you can use 1960's-era technology to draw useful conclusions about the robots of today.

            However, I can use 2010's era technology though for the source of my conclusions. Sure, I think there will be some point when robots surpass current humans in agility and cognitive ability. But that hasn't happened yet. And when that happens, there's no reason for future humans to have the same capabilities of current humans.

            • by Jeremi (14640)

              Sure, I think there will be some point when robots surpass current humans in agility and cognitive ability. But that hasn't happened yet

              Accepted -- but note that the send-robots-instead-of-humans side of the argument doesn't require that robots be as effective as humans.... it only requires that robots be "effective enough" that their remaining performance disadvantages (relative to sending humans) are outweighed by their advantages (lower cost, longer service lifetime, relaxed ethical concerns, no need to return them to Earth, etc).

              Or to put it another way.... say sending a robot to Mars is only 5% as scientifically useful as sending a hum

              • by khallow (566160)

                say sending a robot to Mars is only 5% as scientifically useful as sending a human

                The thing is, robots aren't anywhere near that close in capability. For example, the lunar rovers traveled as far in three days as the Mars Expedition Rovers did in six years. That's more like 0.2% as scientifically useful as sending a pair of humans.

                And we also ignore here the time value of research. We have six successful surface missions (plus a few failures) on Mars in the past forty years. At current rates, it's going to take decades to send that "team" of 20 robots. Even if we wait a couple of deca

      • by waveclaw (43274)

        Earth-bound Humans are currently better at many impomptu, lightweight manual tasks than Earth-bound robots -- but are they still better when encumbered in a 200-pound spacesuit, with gloves like oven mitts?

        Quite simply: yes [findarticles.com].

        The exact quote escapes me, but one geologist said that if you combine all the works of all the mars landers in history, it amounts to about a good day for an average geology student.

        While it is inconvenient to have to send into space all the arms, legs and guts meant for living at

      • by murdocj (543661)

        The even bigger problem with humans searching for life is the risk of contamination. It's very difficult to sterilize robotic probes to other planets. Sterilizing human-occupied spacecraft and spacesuits is just plain impossible. When we detect life on another world (and I do expect that at some point we will detect it) I'd like to be certain that it really is alien life, and not something we brought along.

      • Earth-bound Humans are currently better at many impomptu, lightweight manual tasks than Earth-bound robots -- but are they still better when encumbered in a 200-pound spacesuit, with gloves like oven mitts? I'd argue that a robot (either locally or remotely controlled) might be more agile than a human in that situation, if only because the robot doesn't need to be hermetically sealed into a life-support system that inhibits its movements.

        The one counter example was the final Hubble servicing mission, where for a while there were plans to do it with a robot instead of astronauts (and hence why it had so many unusual, specialized, robot-like tools involved). In the actual mission, several parts did not go as planned, with the most extreme being the removal of a handle - it was supposed to be 4 simple screws, but they wound up having to physically flex-and-yank it to break it off. If it had been a robot, the question is if it could've exerte

      • by khallow (566160)
        I think a far bigger problem than the human versus machine debate is that we don't have a coherent plan for what to do in space. I think the current effort is token, with a few niches (such as Mars, the Sun, and the gas giants) that are usually filled by a mission and occasionally other things. At this scale, individual robotics missions are the only thing that makes sense.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Yes, humans would certainly be a lot better at searching for and finding life in person than any remote robot."

      Bullshit. Your asserted conclusion doesn't apply to present tech because supporting humans is so expensive and resource-intensive that they can barely be sent off-earth.

      Your asserted conclusion won't apply to future tech because it will continue to improve very quickly since its life-cycle need not be prolonged like the Space Shuttle.

      Humans MUST interact with the totally hostile off-earth environm

    • by the gnat (153162)

      Would you be willing to see your taxes double to pay for it? Would you be willing to give up one of the big government expenses/entitlements (Social Security, the military, Medicare) and funnel that money to NASA?

      Well, I wouldn't be willing to see my taxes double, and since I'll never get to go on any of these space missions, I'd prefer to keep at least some insurance against dying on the streets at age 70. Given the choice, I'd prefer to see most of the $1 trillion or so we're flushing away on our militar

    • by holmstar (1388267) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:51PM (#37671270)

      Would you be willing to see your taxes double to pay for it? Would you be willing to give up one of the big government expenses/entitlements (Social Security, the military, Medicare) and funnel that money to NASA? If your answer is "no" to both of those questions, you can probably forget about your Mars bases. Exploration and colonization that far out isn't going to come cheap.

      No it won't be cheap, but it's a different scale of expense than what your suggesting. We're talking about a cost of probably something around $100 billion. While that's many times the current NASA budget, it's still only a small fraction of the total Federal budget. It would be less than $1000 per tax payer per year. Not to downplay the value of $1000, but i'd certainly be willing to give that if it meant "boldly going" to places like Mars, Europa, etc.

      • by bertok (226922)

        You're off by a digit.

        The James Webb Space Telescope is going to cost about 10 Billion by itself, and it's just a single-rocket unmanned mission that doesn't go anywhere near as far as Mars!

        NASA's yearly budget is already over 15 Billion. It's a safe bet that a mission to the Moon or Mars would take at least a decade, and NASA's budget would have to double at a minimum. That's a 150 Billion right there, as a lower bound. More realistically, like you said, NASA's budget would have to increase manyfold, and m

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Note that this isn't like the bailout, which were loans that were eventually repaid. This is a trillion dollars that are going to be launched into space, never to come back.

          Oh, what bs. Certainly we'll get Tang 2.0.

          (BTW, am I the only one who found that stuff vile?)

          • by elrous0 (869638) *

            BTW, am I the only one who found that stuff vile?

            No, you weren't. Pretty much the only reason any kid ever drank that swill was because the astronauts had. Of course, that was back when kids really looked up to astronauts, and thought we would keep progressing in space.

        • "This is a trillion dollars that are going to be launched into space, never to come back."

          This will be a trillion dollars spent down here, on Earth. Of all of the gazillions of space images I have seen, I've never seen bags with $ signs floating around. With luck and perseverance, that will change someday ; )

    • That's going to be a pretty tough sell just to answer the philosophical question "Are we alone?"

      Fortunately there are other reasons. Scientific research that potentially offers economic benefits, this includes basic research (benefit is later rather than sooner). Energy production, solar power is far more viable outside the atmosphere. Speaking of outside the atmosphere, how about production of materials and goods that involve processes that are polluting or otherwise present a health or environmental risk. Production of materials or goods that would greatly benefit from low gravity environments. Acce

      • by murdocj (543661)

        There simply isn't any comparison between "shipping across the ocean" and "shipping across space". When Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he didn't need a new, expensive technology. Ships could be built fairly rapidly and manned by the criminals off the docks. Airplanes were originally flown by a couple of (very intelligent and persistent) guys as an amateur hobby. It's clear from the work private companies are doing today that even suborbital flight s many orders of magnitude more difficult than travel b

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Would you be willing to give up one of the big government expenses/entitlements (Social Security, the military, Medicare) and funnel that money to NASA?

      I'll say "yes" to giving up the military (or at least drastically downsizing it). There's no credible threat from other humans that can't be handled by 1) a very small and technologically advanced defensive force and 2) getting the USA's nose out of other countries' business, so we don't create fanatics who hate us. However, there IS a credible threat from

    • All we need is something that can provide a sustained 1g acceleration. A bunch of medical problems go out of the window, and the crew will be able to traverse the galaxy in 12 years subjective time. Doesn't help the rest of us any, but it can be done. Yes, the engineering issues are quite big, but hey.
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Would you be willing to see your taxes double to pay for it?

      That's such bullshit, NASA costs were a drop in the ocean even before the cut backs.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Would you be willing to see your taxes double to pay for it? Would you be willing to give up one of the big government expenses/entitlements (Social Security, the military, Medicare) and funnel that money to NASA?

      No and yes. I'd be willing to see large cuts in all three of the programs you mention. I don't see the need for huge tax increases. What are we going to do with another two trillion dollars a year? Move a few hundred thousand people a year to Mars?

      If your answer is "no" to both of those questions, you can probably forget about your Mars bases. Exploration and colonization that far out isn't going to come cheap.

      Or we can spend a lot less than that on Mars bases and skip the false dilemmas presented here. Personally, I think US commercial space launch will by itself have lowered the cost of space access to the point where questions like the above would be completely obsol

  • No accounting for the fact that putting a man in space is the most expense and bassackwards excuse to self-indulgence, now there's a new holier than robots excuse. Well keep at it NASA! Anything to get funded one more decade, right?

    • Weak argument for sure. The best part of TFA was the epic Photoshopped picture of astronauts exploring a space volcano.
  • I'm a believer that humans will need to be involved (i.e., on the ship) as we continue space exploration. Partly it's so we can say "We did this."

    Think of it on a smaller context. Do you want to look at pictures of the Grand Canyon, or do you want to be there? I saw plenty of pictures before I went. Standing on the edge, with my toes just over the edge and my girlfriend saying that I was fucking nuts, was something I won't ever forget.

    I've been to a lot of p

    • My robot discovered alien life, but all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      We make first contact with an intelligent alien species. Should that first contact be a robot claw reproducing the sound of our voice, or a human in a suit.

      That depends on whether they're Vulcans or Romulans, of course.

    • Think of it on a smaller context. Do you want to look at pictures of the Grand Canyon, or do you want to be there?

      No, think of it like this: Do you want a person to take pictures of the Grand Canyon or do you want a robot to do it. You going to the Grand Canyon isn't really an option. I'm sure all of NASA's astronauts are in favor of a Mars mission. Since I'm not one, your argument isn't very compelling.

      As the post was about alien hunting, consider this. We make first contact with an intelligent alien speci

    • by innerweb (721995)

      If the aliens are intelligent, they will avoid us for now anyway.

  • Personally sending men into orbit serves it's purpose right now, which is basically testing and perfecting how to keep human beings sustained in space and performing zero-g experiements and other assorted advances in science that couldn't be achieved on the surface. Robots are ideal for reaching further out into space, they don't need to be fed, they don't get tired, no physiological mental or emotional hurdles to overcome. Granted there's a trade off that machines are very limited in their abilities, or mo
  • Everything beyond Mars is a telescope or robot.

  • No! We need more money for foreign wars, keeping Wall Street afloat and Congressional pork!

  • by buybuydandavis (644487) on Monday October 10, 2011 @04:58PM (#37670448)

    But let's see them adapt to vacuum. To cosmic rays. To a year of hibernation.

    A human mission requires orders of magnitude more cost and complexity than a robotic mission. For the same lift requirements, you could set up a robotic science center good for years if not decades of experiments.

    And robots are getting better every year. Computers are getting better every year. It's really no contest at this point.

    • by internerdj (1319281) on Monday October 10, 2011 @05:20PM (#37670754)
      Not to mention that a manned mission would be much easier with in situ resource utilization that would necessitate a lot of unmanned research and prep work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    it worked for the dinosaurs

    oh...

  • It was pretty good and had the guy who played Professor Xavier in it. I'd love to see it happen in real life.
  • We have telescopic data galore. It never occurs to look for something that might be an artifact. I doubt we've identified all the intelligences on Earth yet, much less extraterrestrials? If a species of club moss was intelligent, how, (other than with a zipf analysis of its chemical exchanges), would we know? Ditto for large bacteria colonies, squid or mushrooms.

    What would a human physical presence add unless we happened to meet up with a recognizable, tool using, creature, and why would we not use a semi-a

  • There are some basic problems with human space travel.

    First, there is that whole "speed of light" business. Unless we can figure a way around that, we aren't going anywhere useful.

    Second, life support. It's just real hard to survive without air, water and food. Robots don't need these.

    From the way things are going here on earth, it doesn't look like we'll even be able to survive here much longer, not to mention in space.

    • First, there is that whole "speed of light" business

      which is no less a problem for robots.

      • by innerweb (721995)

        Yes and no. True, it will still take decades to centuries to get anywhere. Robots don't have to worry about biological functions though, so those waits are mere seconds to a robot. And, machines can handle much higher accelerations than people. So, they can get to a higher speed faster than a manned flight could.

      • by mspohr (589790)
        So we probably shouldn't expect robots to go anywhere useful either.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      First, there is that whole "speed of light" business. Unless we can figure a way around that, we aren't going anywhere useful.

      One way is the generation ship. Build a giant ship and put a colony of humans in there. Eventually, their ancestors will reach another planet. Obviously, not that many people would be willing to take such a trip (and doom their children and ancestors to lives confined to a spacecraft), but if the Earth is crapping out, it might seem like a reasonable alternative.

      For feasibility, i

  • Why not send ant colonies into space? They're cheaper than robots, and more adaptable than humans. The individual ants are easily dispensable, and with their fast breeding cycle we just let evolution do the mission design work for us. There's really no downside once you think about it for a minute, citizen.
    • by genner (694963)

      Why not send ant colonies into space? They're cheaper than robots, and more adaptable than humans. The individual ants are easily dispensable, and with their fast breeding cycle we just let evolution do the mission design work for us. There's really no downside once you think about it for a minute, citizen.

      Ant's still need life support. There not cheaper than robots if you take that into consideration.

    • by Opyros (1153335)

      There's really no downside once you think about it for a minute, citizen.

      You're right – what could possibly go wrong? I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords! [wikipedia.org]

  • Ultimately, the hunt for extraterrestrial life may need an astronaut to physically push deeper into space.

    ultimately astronauts would be relying on manual, hand-held versions of the the same sensors present on robots to do their "life detection". every "sensor" on a human is outperformed by the non-bio version that can be carried by robots.

  • Send robots to explore. Send robots to build a base with power supply, mining and manufacturing to build more robots. Build a bigger base with air, water and plants to eat. Then, and only then, send human colonists on a one-way trip.

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      I can tell you don't work in manufacturing. There is a reason why even with CNC mills and lathes, the machine operator is an integral component.

      That reason is because computer control systems used for manufacturing fuck up, and do so frequently.

      A fully robotic factory is currently a pipdream, and if it ever became possible, it would place thousands of people out of work.

      To build a space colony on the moon or on mars, the only sensible way to do it would be to soft land all the parts, tools, and heavy equip

      • by roca (43122)

        Machine intelligence is not required for a moon base, because robots can be teleoperated from Earth at that distance.

        There are definitely a bunch of technological obstacles, mainly on the robotics side, but the work required to overcome them doesn't have to be incredibly expensive (unlike building stupidly large rockets to launch lots of mass from Earth), and it would have significant spin-off benefits on Earth.

  • It still looks like the real arguments for and against sending humans to live and work at permanent space colonies are ones of pure PR.

    On the one hand, you have the "Nya nya! We built one first!" Dick waving type PR, and the other, which I suspect holds more weight, is the "you sent joe sixpack and everything he finds necessary to live and work into space to clutter up another planet. Bravo." type PR.

    This is because a space colony is much more than scientists, engineers, and MIT grad astronauts. A space co

  • ... so it's humans that need to get out there and find more places to live and breed. 7 billion down here now ...

    By all means use robots to find a good sport to build a house, plant the corn and corral the critters - but it's humans that need to live. Robots can't even do that.

  • Humans have no business being in space. Period. Robots are cheaper and easier and outside the circle of empathy - they are just machines.Did the robot miss something? Send another one with a different design. Robots are making massive strides in terms of movement and capabilities. Send robots to Mars. Send robots to the moon. Robots don't get grouchy. Robots don't have mental breakdowns half way to Jupiter (fiction not withstanding), robots don't need to eat or shit or breathe. They just need energy and a p
  • I can tell you why it is important to have human access to space.

    Lets start by looking around at how everything is so f*cked up.

    You know, a long time ago, you use to be able to flee to foreign lands, or undiscovered countries to get rid of the socia/pschyo inbred leaders that enjoy watching people starve, live in misery or otherwise think because what comes out of their dick makes them royal.

    We seem to have come to a impasse now. You can't run anywhere. Tyranny is _EVERYWHERE_. From the nut cases in Chin

  • Semi-random question: What obstacles are stopping us from permanently having a space-station that's completely cut off from the Earth?

    Lack of water is the obvious thing, since energy can be provided by solar. Sigh, we'll be needing energy to matter converters by the looks of it...

  • We do have a high adaptability to tasks in space, but we have a decidedly low adaptability to being in space. Long stints in space (meaning as little as a few months) are linked to muscle atrophy, loss of bone density, depression, sleep disturbances and a number of other problems that may or may not prove to be seriously detrimental to the health and abilities of astronauts. And with trips of greater duration and distance there are increasing concerns over cancer and other things, as well as a higher probab
  • Is this going to be a standup fight, sir, or another bug hunt?
  • Also, who wants to let the robots have all the fun?

    Suits.

  • Robots or humans, no matter. Just stay away from animals.

    Now you are thinking "oh no, some crazy environmentalist calling". But no.

    My first though after reading the head line was about a hilarious short story from , if I remember correctly, Robert Shakely. We read about the thoughts of an astronaut who's ship is failing and he will soon be burned to crisps. Already at this stage of the story you kind of get puzzled that apparently the people who send this astronaut did not in fact take very good care about

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.

Working...