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Mandy Fisher

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The colonization of Mars vs. solving the problems at home

I am a space advocate and sci fi junkie. I look at the night sky like a teenage boy peeks at Playboy. The curiosity and wonder within me burns as red as that elusive rocky world next door.... And now, in this glorious age of technology, the dreams of Kim Stanley Robinson and geeks world round is finally becomming a reality. The colonization of Mars is just around the corner, and although many are thrilled, some are hesitant and even sour about the prospect. An argument aganist a human-occupied Mars is based on the belief that Earth has far too many problems, that are far more urgent and necessary to address, then the satisfication of curious scientists and hopeful investors. So, what do you think? Shall humanity step beyond our watery world and onto a rusty alien desert, or should we focus our efforts on Earth and find solutions to our dire issues before considering such a endeavor?

  • Aug 8 2013: This is my first comment on TED and the first article I read. That being said I truly believe if we, either as a species or even as an individual country set the lofty goal of colonizing Mars the resulting push would not only benefit mankind on Mars and then eventually, beyond, but here on Earth.
    When we set a goal such as the Moon or Mars we inspire not only those already in the space industry but many people who now want to do "their part". To colonize Mars you don't just need to get the colonists there, you need to get shelter, an atmospheric system and a way to eat and drink there also. In finding a way to build a shelter that can sustain life on Mars we could discover how to help build a shelter system to help those in arid lands. Our need for food and water can help those where farming has failed or could be more productive.
    A young mind, inspired by the colony may become interested in science. They could go to school and while there, decide that they want to be a medical doctor, and agriculturist or many other fields that don't have to deal specifically with space exploration but that is what got them going. That young mind could discover the cure for AIDS.

    This type of endeavor doesn't exist in a bubble, but it permeates throughout society.It is not just a journey to Mars, it is a journey for knowledge and advancement.
  • Aug 5 2013: Mandy, the way you framed the question is the major problem with how the general public views space exploration.

    The truth is that this issue should not be brought up in the context of “this or this.” When there is a couple talking about having children, the question is not, “Should we have 10 children or no children?”

    Budgets can be allocated for both space and projects at home.

    There will always be "dire issues" on earth but that does not mean we should stop research, development and exploration regardless of if it is space, the ocean depths or the cells within our bodies.
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      Aug 6 2013: That is true Bob Shingles. I agree, it can both be done if balanced correctly.
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    Aug 1 2013: Hi Mandy, I think Neill DeGrasse Tyson answered your question best:

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      Aug 1 2013: This is by far one of my favorite speeches, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a personal hero of mine. Thank you for sharing Lawren!!
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      Aug 2 2013: Always good answers from Mr. Tyson.


      Great answer to a difficult question. watch from 1:12:30.
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      Aug 4 2013: Dr. Neill DeGrasse makes some very good arguments in this video. And not only about the cost of the space program.
  • Aug 13 2013: If civilization can't find stability on our home planet we should not be colonizing anything anywhere.
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    Aug 11 2013: Mars is plain boring! Not to mention all the other downsides this planet has. Who on earth would trade this beautiful blue planet full of wildlife for a rusty old red desert? It wouldn't even be fair to use it as a prisoner planet, although I could picture some, who would... :o)

    Nope, Mars isn't even worth the time to travel there. Actually, no other planet but ours is, within our system. Just imagine how lucky we were to have come to life right here, where we have all we need and more and any sunset and dawn comes in beautiful colors and ... for free! ... or behind clouds in shades of grey ... :o)

    The only thing you'd do once you set your foot on Mars was to look back for earth anyway, so why leaving at all?

    Leave the rest to our little robots and explorer drones to bring us some pictures and data to marvel about, yet terra-forming is beyond our reach, financially as well as technologically, so we use those resources better for those we have in need next to us on this our spherical spaceship... :o)
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      Aug 11 2013: Legan, you bring up a great point that I was hoping someone would make. I love your comment "the only thing you'd do once you set your foot on Mars was to look back for earth anyway..." Very true my friend. Would I forever settle on Mars? Hell no. But man, I sure would like to visit. ;)
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        Aug 12 2013: Now you are cheating, Mandy, as the headline of your post clearly states 'colonization of Mars' and not just 'visiting'... :o)

        As being someone who is concerned about our atmosphere, I do not even endorse the low price airline tickets one can get today. So for just visiting Mars, the energy balance to just get there turns even worse and so does the damage it inflicts to our planet!

        I have been a space romantic myself when I was young, which even lead me to major in aerospace technology, because I wanted to be part of it. But even hough I finally graduated, I realized over the course of it, that my romanticism had nothing to do with the given reality. Near the end of my studies I happen to meet Jesco von Puttkamer, a NASA engineer who was working under Wernher von Braun on the Apollo Program and I asked for his view on my increasing doubts if spaceflight is worth the tremendous cost it produces, compared to what could be done instead with this money on earth. His answer didn't convince me at all as it was more superficial than I have ever expected.

        Since then I do my space exploration exclusively within my fantasy which gets me far deeper and way faster into space than even our best technology ever could and this only by the use of a view calories worth my neuronal energy... :o)

        But it may easy your urge to know, that we ARE already on a space ship traveling through space. And the spaceship we have is more beautiful, luxurious and fragile than most of us ever come to realize. And to enjoy our journey to the full extend, we should look after our ship better than we do, and care about the whole crew we have on board as well.

        And as I also once was a 'teenage boy peeking at Playboy', I can tell you, that those girls do not exist in reality at all... and if they do, they are not in my league anyway ... :o)
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    Aug 10 2013: Both missions, if I may call them that, should be embarked on simultaneously. Making this planet sustainable in the long run whilst looking for others.

    Terraforming Mars will take from 300 to 500 years, it is doable while problems at home are being addressed. I see no reason for postponing the launching project especially if we bear in mind that a lot can happen in 300 years, both down here and up there.

    I appreciate your posting this conversation, but for some reason the very title of it made me furl my eyebrows a bit. Had Galileo, Copernicus, Turing, Einstein, Chandrasekar been discouraged by pests and poverty or relocated to the mundane tasks of doing something with them, had they not had the curiosity you and I share with them that made them gaze at the stars and down at their notebooks, we wouldn't be able to have this discussion.

    "Look up at the stars, not down at your feet." - Steven Hawking

    PS. Do look down at your feet from time to time to ensure you won't fall and break your neck while looking up. Just a security measure. Best wishes.
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      Aug 10 2013: Anna, I agree with you. We must make efforts to made possible both dreams: Mars or beyond and a better life for mankind, a better planet, and so on. I consider that working for discovering new ways trough the universe, probably will help us to improve life here, at Home.
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    Aug 9 2013: I think the universe is like the brain of our human ,and the civilization of the planets is like the cell of the brain.Our problem of the earth is need more and more conversations and talk like ideas spreading . intelligence growing day by day ,more we understand about the world more we realize the universe is a wise brain ,even one of the earth and mars
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      Aug 10 2013: Yeah, dude, roll that in a joint and pass it.
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    • Aug 8 2013: Deepak, I must disagree for the reasons I just expressed in my reply to the original poster.

      When we strive for such a lofty goal as colonizing Mars the resulting increase of interest in science benefits all of mankind. If you were to say "let's solve world hunger!" on TV a few people may perk up but so many others would shrug and turn the channel. World hunger and disease have been a problem for centuries.

      Now get on TV and say "we are going to colonize Mars in ten years." All of the sudden we have a goal and a lot of problems to solve to make that goal. Those problems, such as feeding a colony and sheltering the colonists could benefit all of mankind. A way to grow food on Mars? It could work in the arid lands of Africa, right? Need shelter against the elements of Mars? That could help displaced villagers who lost their homes in a flash flood in Columbia.

      I will say it again: This type of endeavor doesn't exist in a bubble, but it permeates throughout society.It is not just a journey to Mars, it is a journey for knowledge and advancement.
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        Aug 10 2013: Sorry, dude. I think you're missing Deepak's point. Which is clearly that if the ship you're on is already taking on water the solution to the problem is not trying to build another ship.
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    Aug 8 2013: This is like the question "should I clean up my house, do dishes, laundry, and other chores or should I go downhill skiing?"

    The first is a mundane necessity. The second is fun, but expensive and potentially dangerous.

    "There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens"
    • Aug 8 2013: "should I clean up my house, do dishes, laundry, and other chores or "

      should I work on solving a problem that will not only take us to another world, but create new technology that could make my mundane life better here on Earth?
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        Aug 8 2013: This is a good point. Often these endeavors lead to development of technologies quite useful here on earth. It's hard to imagine our life today without GPS, satellite imagery, and satellite communications. And this all started with the proverbial "rocket science" and sending objects up into the orbit. As Einstein said, "If we knew what we are doing, it would not be called 'research'."

        I could compare Mars research to the Columbus expeditions. The goal was to find a way to Asia, but it lead to something altogether different. Certainly, there is a thrill in this process of discovery. If not for these endeavors, we would still live in the trees or, at best, herd goats. Herding goats provides meat, milk, and skins. Why would one want to get on a back of a horse and take off to unknown and dangerous places?
        • Aug 8 2013: I believe that thrill of discovery is in our DNA and drives us. Sure, there will always be some curmudgeon yelling "Get off my lawn!" sometimes the gene skips a generation or two... but all in all we want to know what is over that next hill...
        • Aug 9 2013: Actually, all those satellite derived technologies came not from space exploration, but were originally designed for military use.
          Humanity's very first vehicle which left the atmosphere came in the form of the ballistic missile, Germany's V2 rocket. Once the US and Russians figured out how to miniaturize a nuclear weapon enough to fit on top of such a ballistic missile, the technology became the heart of the cold war.
          Since the launch of Sputnik up until today, launching a satellite is essentially a nations' way of saying "we can build a ballistic missile that can land anywhere on earth".

          Space exploration has always been a superpower's way of showing off their wealth and technological prowess. Practical application has always been secondary, and frankly, nowhere near enough to compensate for the exorbitant price tag (which could be simply been used to fund more conventional research).
          Military R&D is the same for that matter, but it at least comes with the practical benefit of strengthening one's armed forces. Until we figure out how to mine asteroids, space is just for showing off.
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        Aug 9 2013: "A bear went over the mountain to see what he could see
        Another side of the mountain is all that he could see."

        There is boredom in novelty as well. For example, new gadgets don't excite me any more. This is my inner Eeyore speaking. The previous post was from my inner Tigger :-)

        It seems to be not about what's over that hill, but about us - can we get to the top of that next hill and to the top of the hill behind that next hill? The result seems to be not as important as the process and the ability to get there.
        • Aug 9 2013: Yes! It is the journey, not the destination that will define us.
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        Aug 10 2013: That thrill in your DNA can be repudiated by any geneticist. We prefer the known and the safe. That's a basic fact.

        If you find life on Earth mundane, then the colonization of Mars is the least of your worries.
  • Aug 7 2013: It is exactly because our Earthly Social Problems are so, historically, Intractable, that having the ability to move to another planet is such a good idea. It's like a dysfunctional family debating about whether we should all live in the same house, or , hey, how about those who want to leave should be encouraged to do so. Everyone would feel much better. Not to mention The Asteroid Problem.
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      Aug 10 2013: Dude, poor metaphor. It's not like moving out of the house condemns the rest of your relatives to death, which would be the likely result of aiming for Mars and ignoring the real-world (no pun intended) problems of Earth. You are right, one would have to be dysfunctional to think that some of us should move out of earth and leave the rest to suffer.

      p.s. shawn, I heard your great grandfather is gonna lose like a quarter of a billion dollars on 'The Lone Ranger.' jk.
      • Aug 10 2013: Daniel: You are suggesting that some trifling expeditions to Mars by a few enthusiasts would doom the rest of humanity on Earth to some awful fate. As if Columbus and a few other explorers seriously crippled Europe in some way by leaving in 1492 . I seriously question this.
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          Aug 11 2013: Trifling? The Mars rover Curiosity: "Total Cost: $2.5 billion, including $1.8 billlion for spacecraft development and science investigations and additional amounts for launch and operations"

          Imagine how many problems at home you could fix with $2.5 billion dollars. Or to bring the point closer to home, imagine how many people have died of starvation or preventable diseases in the last week and that could have been saved with an equal amount of money.

          And it's not being done by a few enthusiasts, it's being done with taxpayer money, to the point that it cost every person in America $8 dollars. Now to a lot of people that is a movie ticket or a pack of smokes, but to a lot of people it's the difference between food on the table or paying the electric bill. To the billion plus people on this planet that live on less than $2 it is an even more impressive sum.

          Source: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?InFlight=1&MCode=MarsSciLab&Display=ReadMore

          I don't know why you are bringing up Columbus. Columbus wasn't even the first European to cross the Atlantic, why would he cripple Europe with three ships? On this day in 1519 Ferdinand Magellan set off with five ships and two hundred seventy men to circumnavigate the globe. While Columbus was Italian and Magellan was Portuguese they both sailed for Spain. I'm not sure why we're talking about sailing, but you're the one that brought it up. I think Magellan would have been a better example. His expedition went all the way around the world and the cost was greater, because the expedition lost all but one ship and eighteen men.
  • Aug 5 2013: I say, go for it. As for the problems at home, these demand more than the handful of people that are going to be 'colonizing Mars'. There's a whole host of issues and I don't foresee any world Utopia any time soon. If your passion takes you elsewhere, such as Mars, I say go for it. There are some real leaps necessary in order to accomplish colonizing Mars, so it could be argued that any real attempt in the near future might be a wasted effort. When considering where science technology and our understandings of the cosmos will be in 50-100 years, we could wait till then and accomplish the task relatively quicker. It's easy to lose money on the horse that leads the race out of the gates. That being said, while undertaking the research necessary to find solutions for colonizing another planet, we might find ways in which we may help our own. Which is the best part of all :)
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    Aug 3 2013: Hi Mandy.
    If we colonise Mars it will be in bunkers, with supplies brought from earth. We are only beginning to understand the complexities of planet earth that allow us to survive. If we really must play Dan Dare, then the moon would be a much more realistic prospect. We get carried away with 'Star Treck' and ' Star Wars'. They're fantasy folks, we don't have a terra-forming bomb. We can't even forecast tomorrow's weather.

  • Aug 2 2013: The earth has No problemos.
    Humans have One problemo.
    The horrors we witness are symptoms of the One problemo.
    The problemo is not a disease.
    You swim in the Solution but do not see it.
    Humans will take their problemo to Mars.
    Because, for now, it is their nature.
    Enjoy the stars. They are beautiful indeed.
  • Aug 1 2013: Lets get a grips on some of the problems involved first.
    You can terraform the atmosphere after a herculean effort, and you could conceivably genetically engineer plants designed for the martian soil. Problem is, both require technologies which as of today, simply don't exist. Maybe in a few decades.
    Worse is the geological problem. Mars simply isn't geologically active, and that's something that as far as I'm aware, can't be fixed. That means that you have no magnetic field around the planet to stave off solar winds like you have on earth. The radiation will do you no favors, and the solar wind may have an averse affect on the atmosphere as well.

    And that's without addressing the astronomical budget the entire endeavor would require.
    We're talking about immense amounts of money here. A single manned probing team is so expensive, even the economical juggernauts like the US or China decided it was simply too expensive a way to show off. Colonization will be several orders of magnitude more expensive, never mind the new technology you'd have to develop just for the project to work.
    There is also no real benefit to the country(s) funding it. Shipping mineral resources from mars is ridiculously expensive compared to just mining them on earth. Other then the prestige (read bragging rights), there is no real motivator to get mars colonized except perhaps the long term safeguarding of human species (which is far too long term for these types of stellar investments--you'll never get backing for it without a short term benefit)

    Until something changes on the fundamental level of interplanetary travel as we know it today, its just not going to happen.
    Its a shame, but with a cost high enough to buy several first world countries in their entirety, over decades of work, its just not realistic.
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      Aug 5 2013: Nadav, I was thinking about this last night. It is true, the negative outright the positive. As far as resources, it wouldn't be productive to mine from Mars, but instead, mine asteroids. This is my worry- the cash being pumped into space will have more focus on ships and mining operations and bypass Mars as a silly playground for curious scientists.

      Of course, we do not have the technology to do much right now... But the question is, when should we start? If we don't take the first step, who are we betting will?
      • Aug 5 2013: Frankly, we shouldn't. At least, not in the foreseeable future.
        As much as I like the concept, being realistic about it, it simply can't be done, and will remain so for at least a few decades.

        Turning barren rock into breathable atmosphere would require infrastructure that would be a challenge to build even on earth--setting it up with a few colonists that have maybe a single light weight nuclear reactor as their power supply... You'd have better luck attaching a pig to a jet engines and a pair of wings.
        Combine that with the surface radiation, and the people living there would have to spend all their lives in complex bunkers. It would be centuries before they'd be able to walk on the surface without a hazardous environment suit.

        I suppose one could theoretically attempt to colonize Venus or one of Jupiter's moons instead, but they each present their own set of problems, just as severe. In the end, after a truly herculean effort, you still end up with a bunker.

        Factor in costs, and it simply isn't worth perusing. Not with the technology we have today, anyway.
        Its like nuclear fusion or world peace. Everyone is waiting for the day it'll happen, but being realistic about these things, there are better places to allocate resources to (maybe some of the required technology we could also use on earth even if we never colonize Mars).

        I've known engineers and scientists that flat out told me that they've spent large parts of their careers working on things they knew would never amount to any practical benefit (not quite as bad as nuclear fusion, but not far behind). The only reason they didn't mind was that they were being paid fairly, and someone else was footing the bill; this isn't something I want to see happen with government money.
        There are better use uses of our limited resources.
      • Aug 8 2013: I wasn't talking about theoretical research, I understand that its usually necessary before any practical breakthrough can occur.

        I was talking about engineering projects, with little or no research benefits, that everyone knows will fail from the onset.
        There are a lot more of those than you think. Investors often use them as a method of gathering funds they know from the onset they're not responsible for delivering on (politicians often take on impossible challenges for the same reason).

        By the way, what's the problem with banks and the weapons industry? I can honestly tell you that without my own country's weapons industry, I'd have been either a second class citizen in a new country or a refugee by now.
        People living away from war zones tend to forget that, but force of arms has its use.
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    Aug 1 2013: 25 – 30 thousand children died every day of preventable causes related to their poverty.
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      Aug 1 2013: And that is a tragedy. But let's be realistic. The sad, dreaded reality of a world in capitalism; space=$$$, and saving third world children drains it. I hate it, and if I were in charge, I'd change it. However, you won't get investors to pour money into the never-ending money pit of humanitarian aid. Besides, the must be something more productive, more lasting, then feeding a babe for a day only for them to be hungry tomorrow. Imagine all the jobs created with the building of space stations, space transportation, and hopefully, space habitats? This, I believe, will make more of a dent in poverty then the fueling of dependence.
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        Aug 1 2013: If I may, we already have the resources to end severe poverty but are not using them. We could explore space and take care of the poor if we wanted to. Also, we have proven models that move people from dependence to independence. The only problem with your thought about space jobs making a dent in poverty is that today, today, 25 thousand children will die of preventable causes related to their poverty. Dependency for a season is better than death today. Which is more important exploring space or saving the lives of hungry children? Sometimes there is nothing to discuss.

        The reason I am writing is because I just published a book on poverty and used the exploration of space as an example of how we have misplaced priorities. I write this in a spirit of humility but truth as I view it. Thank you.
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          Aug 5 2013: Hello Doc, I apologize for my late reply.

          I agree, that life should always take precedence over everything else. Period. I also agree that dependency short term is better then the alternative.... However, my point was that the allure of mining presious metals will unfortunatly take the front seat in the minds of fat cats, the ones who hold the resources. Therefore, why not push for scientific endeavors while they play with shiny rocks? Why not make Mars colonization a benefit, thus getting the cash needed while pursuing intellect and discovery?

          People have been starving since the dawn of civilization. It shouldn't be that way, but I just don't believe those green eyed monsters will wake up one day and decide, "Hey, let's do something about this". No, I believe that the only way a difference will be made is by force: how about making all space endeavors pay a certain percentage of profit to trustworthy organizations doing good?

          The exploration of space will continure. The pretty metals and expensive resources are just too tempting, sitting out there so nicely, just waiting to be snagged up. We can explore space and feed the hungry, If the people demand this... and without the pressure, it will not be considered.
      • Aug 2 2013: Space isn't $$$ as you perhaps understand it. Space is something that comes collectively from science. In fact, you can't "throw $$$" at space. It's a funny notion that I once heard from one guy who went all on about how we could be already living in Mars if we invested money from our military technology towards space technology. When I asked, what is this space technology actually, he eventually figured it out that it's actually a bunch of technology that clashes together.

        Well, then he obviously goes on about how we could have more spaceships. But then the ultimate question arrived; spaceships for what? Again, he held his answer, because he knew that currently, we don't really need that many spaceships since we have goals which are already being fulfilled by existing spaceships.

        That being said, if we actually set up a goal of making Mars conveniently habitable, the funds would appear out of nowhere. Just like the possibility of electrically powered convenient cars, once we're running dry on oil.
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          Aug 4 2013: When the oil runs out how will we charge the electric cars? Is this your point or analogy?
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        Aug 4 2013: I disagree with the notion we can't force investors to put money into the problems here on earth. All we have to do is make them feel the real impact that poverty has on the human body. How to do that is the problem. The American civil war was one example of making certain investors change their minds.

        The great Depression was another example.

        The great impedance for space travel in a, largely conservative population in the 50's was due to the need to not let other countries have technological dominance over us. We saw the need from a perspective of defence; not curiosity or scientific -need to know. With the inclusion of China into the space arena, I think we are moving back towards that direction. That said, Mars will have to be put on the back burner, unless China decides to go there too.

        In the waning days of the Soviet Union, they decided that the costs associated with using autonomous equipment outweighed the higher costs of manned space travel. As a result, they started to focus their resources in that direction. I too think we should take mankind out of the space travel equation and move forward with robotic equipment. That way, we can expand the knowledge we gain from space research and get more bang for the buck.

        The Voyager space probes have given us invaluable information about the extremes at the edge of our solar system that would have cost incalculable more dollars if we had decided to use human beings instead of rocket propelled sensor devices. Indeed the humans would have long ceased to transmit information. With Mars pocked marked surface, and, considering the last impact episode with the planet Jupiter, I would thing the risks involved with an extension level asteroid would be greater on Mars than on earth.

        The idea of the sun destroying the earth is, of course, a problem for future generations and should not be consider in the cost of present day space travel.
  • Aug 1 2013: We had better do both.

    Suppose we somehow get the whole globe to go green, and stop the increasing temperatures, and stop destroying the environment, and everyone adopts sustainable living. Then an asteroid wipes us all out. Or, Yellowstone blows up and cools down the planet. Or our amazing transportation systems spread a virus around the globe before we can respond. Or a dozen other catastrophes could wipe out the human species on this planet.

    We now have the knowledge, and we know that these risks are real. Still, we act like youngsters who cannot imagine their own death.

    As long as we live on just one planet, we are very vulnerable.
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      Aug 1 2013: I agree Barry.

      Humanity is so fragile.... just another species that can be reduced to dirt and rock as easily as the next. I also find it odd that amidst the multitudes of end-of-human scenarios and the very real possibility of a catastrophic asteroid impact, we still tip toe around the idea of out worldly colonization. I mean, should this not be the number one priority? Secure ourselves first and then ask the questions. If your hanging on the side of a cliff without a rope, and you happen to slice open your hand, you make your way to safety before worrying about a bandaid, right?

      Thumbs-up Barry: "As long as we live on just one planet, we are vulnerable"
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      Aug 4 2013: Barry is we were to accept this philosophy, there would be no reason to get out of bed in the morning.

      We are a curious sort. I continue to get out of bed because I'm "dying", to find out what will happen next.
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      Aug 7 2013: Humans easily deny problems they can't handle directly to reduce stress. That's a root problem.
      I was reminded of it in Dan Brown's new book Inferno, it is its best till now in my opinion.

      Ironically, I remember a documentary on Discovery Channel where they said that if a nearby star would go supernova, the gamma rays could also end all life in our solar system, can someone back that up?
      The universe is a hostile place.. Robots are / can be much thougher than us, no fragile proteins, no muscle detoration, less cosmic radiation problems. Our bodies are simply not made for space.
      • Aug 8 2013: I agree about human fragility in space. The only feasible way that I can envision a space colony is to send robots first, to build a habitat for humans. In space we would be so dependent on technology, our role would be little more than pets, cared for by robots.

        The probability of a nearby supernova is small, but possible. Much more likely is a solar electrical storm that destroys our electrical power grid. A big one occurred sometime around 1850 that was probably big enough. The grid requires some huge transformers that require months to build. If many of those are destroyed, much of the earth will be without an electric grid for many months, perhaps years. It would not be an extinction event, but it could set our civilization back many years.
  • Aug 14 2013: The more we know the easier we will find solving problems. It is well-known we have serious issues to investigate and to improve here at the Earth, but we researching into new things give us new knowledge to take advantage of. We might find that a living thing use a system whose cells are made in a way that they cannot suffer cancer... This is just an example. When spanish discovered America they started using some techniques that they did not know previously. They started cultivating cacao which everyone hankers after it now... We must keep spending money at this issue!
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    Aug 14 2013: We need to consider the past when asking how plan the future.
    If the space race never happened and government spent our tax dollars on earth instead of going to the moon, do you ready think the earth would be better or just different?
  • Aug 14 2013: In 2010, NASA got about 3.6% of the total Federal budget. So, we're spending the other 96.4% on something that somebody thinks is a "problem at home". Closing down the Mars program would be chump change.
  • Aug 14 2013: colonizing mars will solve problems back on earth.
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    Aug 14 2013: Google search on | Phobos HIRISE |

    Real moons are supposed to be made of dirt, rocks, and green cheese, i.e. they're not supposed to reflect light all over creation. Phobos was weird enough in black/white, but those HIRISE 2008 color images show it clearly to be made of metal strakes, the thing is some sort of an ancient space station, 15 miles across. And if we don't get to it, Iran or North Korea will.
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    Aug 13 2013: Before colonization, we need to develop nanotechnology sufficient to build anything we possibly could out of whatever resources are on hand. Not only to feed and house them, but to assure their health despite likely intense periods of radiation on the trip out. Almost all such nanotech functions can be implemented by the Programmable Quantum Cascade Laser Array (PQCLA) chip produced by Bell Labs (now Aligent). From Optical Tweezers to programmable catalyst the PQCLA can move molecules and selectively alter their chemistry. This is not an advertisement for Bell Labs. They have been sitting on this technology for years despite it's immense potential and it's time we take them by force. How many people have to die while corporations keep crucial technology under wraps?
  • Aug 13 2013: I believe that while there is no immediate emergency to shift planets, the work can be put in place to explore potential habitats and the technology to make that happen so we won't be caught off-guard. Atleast initially, the settlements on other planets could be mining exploration facilities as opposed to residential lots. I feel this work must be done in collaboration among nations and not a few parties establishing monopolies in this endeavor. That said, the U.S is over a trillion dollars in debt and there are varying degrees of problems in the world, including population growth, water shortages, poverty, wars. To convince folks that yes we need to colonize other planets will take some doing. The reasons must be strong, the support must be strong. Ideas will always come and go. People need to sit down and do a resource/energy/cost analysis of the whole lifecycle of this potential operation, from idea generation here on earth to the final phase of the colonization project on Mars. It would be terribly selfish to waste existing world resources that a lot of people need for tomorrow to satisfy the quest for colonizing another planet. That's my take. Analysis is extremely necessary.
  • Aug 13 2013: I propose three ideas forgive me for my ADD thinking. But I envision a world where human beings actually covered the four corners of the earth not just aboveground or below ground underwater but all and eventually overcome most the known universe? I know mankind is at a precipice of its future or it's destruction where technology strives hand-in-hand with our ingenuity and imagination! Some people may ask when have we overstepped our own bounds, but if you ask me there's no bounds or limitations just drive on and create new ways and adapt and build. kind of sounds like the thinking of a virus or disease but they are hardest to kill? With ability to adapt. I know people are going to live on mars in mars-one people have lived on the space station for 11 years or so but what a bout right here on earth in are very own oceans I know we stay on summering's but what about permanence A underwater city with a clear doom and under water vehicles that go from land to sea easily so it is like going to any big city that is my vision my dream
  • Aug 12 2013: I agree with you pal - ability to get to Mars and sustain a small community is definitely there. Need all the major powers to work together and send up a diverse team of people to oversee the initial terra-forming projects etc.
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    Aug 12 2013: We should CURRENTLY be working on earth controlled robot colonization of Mars.
    Start with robotic mining, construction and terraforming now, so when humans are ready to go to Mars there is a livable city already there. We would need to start with mining raw materials, (stone, metal, water, and chemicals.) Then set to refine them, and hopefully than use 3D printers to create parts for construction robots to build what is needed for terraforming.

    And earth would benefit from using the same robotic mining technology here on earth, and improving our refining here as well.

    And at the same time we will work on developing a strong magnetic field for Mars, spaceships and stations, moons, and even to controls earth’s magnetic field.

    Plus keep in mind Mars is not the end goal, but just a small step towards colonization of the entire galaxy.
  • Aug 12 2013: There is a prophecy in the Bible concerning God's judgment of Earth that says concerning men "and they shall by no means escape". I understand this "by no means" to include space travel. So yes, apart from a few arrogant men who wants man colonizing other planets when he is destroying his own planet?
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    Aug 12 2013: My private theory is that we've already landed people on Mars - except that would make worldwide news. And how could you hide that much manufacturing w/R&D? But it's still a good private theory. It's that line from the Will Smith movie "Independence Day" @Area51: "'You don't think they really bought all those $400 toilet seats, do 'ya?"'

    I have lots of private theories like that. Maybe it's just the Department of Defense pretending to be space aliens? You don't think all those alien abductions were real, do ya? The personally-invasive part was real. Military-Idiots playing Space-Alien UFO - 'Doctor' and such. But the abductions weren't real. Idiots playing Doctor. Idiots should'a been prosecuted for that!

    I like the idea of colonizing Mars though. We have too many human beings for just one planet. So let's do something about that. In fact, we need to move off the Earth completely and let the Biosphere of the planet heal itself from all the damage we've done thus far. Just get ALL the people evacuated to the moon & other planets. The Earth itself is a pretty-rare event in this universe. Life got lucky and evolved here. Intelligent life evolved here. Once we get the hell outta here, Mother Earth can regenerate and evolution can start again without us. Fact is, the first Space Aliens we might meet, might also be Earthlings. They just evolved before (or after) we did. All the rest is just Science Fiction.

    Alternate Universes? We could evacuate that direction as well (maybe). But going to Mars is a really good idea in my book! All the technology we gain out of that will be really good for our kids. Look at what the space race to the Moon did for all us baby boomers! We got hopes & dreams out of that. All the rest is just Science Fiction.