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Is the Mars Curiosity Rover really necessary?

Now, I am a huge proponent for space travel, exploration, and so on, so I'm not saying "let's close NASA and use the money to build roads." I'm merely saying that, given the technology that we currently have, and the limited abilities of the Curiosity (which can move and collect rocks, as far as I know. Correct me if I'm wrong), is Mars really going to bring us any significant scientific knowledge? I mean, we know that life is possible in this solar system, we know it's possible elsewhere, and we know humans cannot live on Mars; what can we really get out of this rover? I understand that it is a large symbolic step, both for the NASA program and for the world, but scientifically, is it a necessary step? Personally, I think not.

Topics: Mars life space
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  • Aug 6 2012: It's not necessary, but the rover will do a lot more than collect rocks. Look at this: http://www.sophia.org/mars-science-laboratory-pathway

    We may know it's possible for life to exist in our solar system, but we haven't yet found it. If we could find and study life on Mars, it would be a huge step, both scientifically, and symbolically. (I'm not actually sure if this is what they're trying to do, but it's a step in that direction anyway.) No space exploration, or science in general for that matter is necessary. We do it simply because we want to learn more about the world in which we live. Will Curiosity accomplish that goal if all goes as planned? Absolutely.

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