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December 27, 2018 - 11:25am

Today's Poll: Do you support efforts to launch a manned mission to Mars?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Howard B. Owens
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I voted no.

Going to Mars will be tremendously difficult. At current propulsion technology, it would take six to eight months to get to Mars, same time back, with the launch windows requiring a year or more on planet. That's a lot of time for astronauts to be in zero-gravity to no gravity environments. There are issues with sufficient water and provisions. To leave Mars will take a good deal of rocket fuel. During that time, the explorers will be exposed to massive amounts of solar radiation. If there is a technical or medical emergency, there will be no help available to the crew.

And to what purpose? To colonize Mars? Mars can't currently support human life so this would require artificial environments and constant resupply. Could terraforming make Mars more hospitable? Perhaps but I think that would take centuries, at a minimum.

All of these problems could potentially be solved, especially the getting there and back issues. There are faster rocket engines in development

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbZ0q2ooRgs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbK9DTMhyns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf5Fbx0nl50

There's still a lot of development needed to turn these ideas into technology that will shorten travel time for a manned mission to Mars.

Meanwhile, we have real technical challenges here on earth, most particularly related to climate change. I'm not one to normally look at things through a zero-sum lens -- if we do this, we can't do that -- but given the massive expenditure needed and the decades it will take to make a manned mission realistic and the urgency of dealing with climate change, that seems like it should be the sole priority for NASA, Musk, and Bezos.

Rich Richmond
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I voted yes. If people are brave enough, educated and highly motivated despite the mentioned downsides, allow them the dignity of risk.

John Roach
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I voted yes. The space program over the decades always had people say it could not be done or was not worth it. But to overcome all the problems we have developed all sorts of technology that has made life better here on earth.

Dayne Burroughs
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I voted yes, with knowledge of the risks and problems Howard described, and having been closely following the topic for several years. As Elon Musk said, the first mission (if not the first several) are going to be a 1-way trip with high probability of death in space or on Mars. He has his reasons ... I'm sure it'll end up happening regardless of any positive impact it will have for mankind. I missed the moon landing having been a 90's baby... personally I'd like to be alive for at least the first attempt to land on Mars.

Ed Hartgrove
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Not on the "taxpayer's dime".
If private millionaires/billionaires want to fund it, they can do whatever they want.

tom hunt
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It is man's destiny to leave the Earth and explore and colonize other planets. Howard makes some valid points. I have following this closely and will say that initially it will be a one way trip with no hope of return. As for the other problems, technology will be developed to handle them.

Irene Will
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What if --- Mars has water on it because we used to live there and we messed up the climate so badly that we had to send an escape pod to earth with only Adam and Eve in it and the pod was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs ?

Daniel Norstrand
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After we cure cancer and a few other more immediate conundrums.

Howard B. Owens
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Tom, what makes it our destiny to leave earth? As far as we know, no advanced species has ever traveled to another planet, if there are any other advanced species in other solar systems. Right now, there’s more evidence that we’re either alone in the universe or if not alone that the barriers to interstellar travel or too great that no species has ever made the leap (or every civilization kills itself off through climate change or nuclear war before making the leap). I can think of no empirical reason to believe anything in particular is our destiny.

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