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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.

  • Aug 7 2012: Yes

    Nasa inspired me
    Nasa inspired every child
    Nasa inspired every person on this planet
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    Aug 6 2012: The quest for extraterrestrial life is part of the quest for spiritual understanding. If one is not willing to accept existing explanations of Life, of which there are many, then one must pursue other investigations. In that sense tax dollars are being voraciously consumed in an effort to further man's understanding of his origin and purpose in the Universe. Note that Curiosity has landed as I write and it is NOT a rock gathering expedition.
  • Aug 6 2012: It's not necessary, but the rover will do a lot more than collect rocks. Look at this:

    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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    Aug 4 2012: I do not know but what I suggest is that NASA do an infogrphic outlining all of the advancements that have come out of space programs and tracing the profits through all stages and all manifestations so that the general public has the oportunity to see any advantages . (I would love it to be balanced out by the costs as well so that a complete picture is formed honestly.) I think it is the only way to turn the tide of sentiment.
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    Aug 4 2012: I suspect that as a taxpayer I have contributed a dollar or two towards this and I'm delighted at my investment. This is exciting science and exploration and if the NASA is willing to engrave my name in nano letters on a piece of silicon and leave it for the Martians to find, I'm happy to send them another 100 bucks
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    Aug 4 2012: It is in the accidents that happen when researchers are looking for something else that great discoveries are often made. Think of Alexander Fleming and penicillin. All research starts with hopes and dreams. It is the foundation for the formation of hypotheses to be investigated. This is partly why children should be encouraged to dream and tell stories and to play and find out about the world through their lived experiences. It is also why children should be given the structure of how to find information as well as the knowledge of how to apply it in school and further education.
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      Aug 5 2012: You are definitely right there -- but the question is: can we afford to look at these things, or shouldn't we rather make these accidents happen in other, more pressing fields of science with a more direct benefit for humanity?
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        Aug 6 2012: I have been having conversations with James Zhang and Debra Smith and posted some of my own ideas and debates. I struggle to find the correct vocabulary at times because even though I speak English, English is a complicated language and words have different meanings for different people. I was trying to get people to look at the idea of balance and natural cycles through the mathematicl formula used in Fibonacci's golden string of numbers. As a language it is unambiguous, it requires more mathematical fluency than I have. I like to think of the search for new knowledge and progress as a giant literature search of all the available knowledge. It is just some knowledge is hidden and needs to be scientifically investigated before it is dismissed i.e. with curiosity and even if it is not a good fit for the original hypothesis it might still have use elsewhere. One of my friend's sons loves to draw cars and I suggested he might like to draw some of the space vehicles. He is very clever and maybe he might have a thought one day that would benefit all of us. This is why I am also so keen that society nurtures women as well as men because who knows who has ideas that will benefit us all. Namaste.
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    Aug 6 2012: In the words of NdGT. "In three days, a robotic emissary arrives & lands on Mars to perform science experiments. That's just a sweet sentence to say."

    For an expansion
  • Aug 5 2012: I am kinda unsure on the subject myself too. I think a very important aspect is that Mars may not be the most promising planet, but it is the closest. From what I know about Venus, its atmosphere would make a rover not as productive as mars. It would also be much more expensive and time consuming to send it to other areas of the solar system. It may not necessarily be that the rover finds amazing discoveries but that NASA has experience sending more rovers. This is just a thought though.
  • Aug 4 2012: The U.S. has been working with England to bring the number of cameras spying on the citizens down to, or up to depending on how you 'see' it, from 14 to 5. The entire country will be blanketed.

    Now if you commit certain kinds of crimes there is no where to hide. The only means of escaping might be to go to another planet, BUT, you cannot go to Mars because they already have cameras there!

    Rich people spending poor people's money. It certainly isn't their own they are spending.

    Lawren Jones

    "I submit to you that all of human achievement has come from activities that were not necessary."
    Really? And your proof is.....................?
    • Aug 4 2012: I don't QUITE see what that has to do with this issue.
    • Aug 7 2012: Random Chance, I believe you need to escape the government paranoia. It is a pointless thing to fear because I highly doubt the government is concern about watching and controlling every single person 24 hours a day at least in the US.
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    Aug 4 2012: I think it is a necessary step, and possibly crucial for human's long-term survival.

    There needs to be a balance between long-term priorities and short-term priorities. The Mars Curiosity Rover is a huge investment that has no apparent or clear return, but it can be the most crucial return we'll ever get.

    But if we're in a middle of war or in some kind of crisis, Space Exploration can wait. I mean it doesn't make sense to put all our resources on research, when we're under attack.
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    Aug 4 2012: Of course it's not necessary, but the science is valid, and room must be made within human activity for curiosity (no pun intended) and fascination. I submit to you that all of human achievement has come from activities that were not necessary.