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Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

Posted December 21, 2011 8:37 AM

Bristling with instruments, the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity promises to gather an enormous amount of data about the past of the Red Planet, including whether water ever existed there. Human space flight to Mars would cost significantly more and entail far greater risk. Would we actually gain more benefit, beyond just being able to say we've done it?

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#1

Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/21/2011 10:58 PM

Yes - we would gain a lot more from a manned presence in addition to robot rovers than from robots alone (with the caveat that we are discussing the current and near future state of the art that is).

Direct observation and intuition are the best means of making breakthroughs aside from the social advantages attache to moving to another planet.

Another caveat. A repeat of Apollo would give little or no advantage; if we go we go to stay.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/21/2011 11:11 PM

What is true is that sooner or later man will go to Mars and beyond. Sometime in the future there will be a start to go beyond the moon. We made steps or giant leaps for mankind in 1969 and the genie is out of the lamp. It will likely be centuries before humans actually be able to say there are tangible benefits to exploring outer space with real travel. In the meantime we will continue to make small steps on top of that early giant leap.

That is not to say there will not be tangible benefits. The engineering and science and human study needed just to go to mars will release a plethora of inventions and advances that will see some benefit. It is hard to predict what they will be but we will have to adapt our physical being to weightless environments, develop rapid means of building habitats in very hostile conditions, learn to manufacture efficient oxygen for life, learn to grow food, adapt to limit light, shield from the cosmic rays, etc. All these steps will cost us in human effort and actual dollars. I doubt if one single nation can ever hope to be the pioneer and sponsor for the development needed for such an endeavor. Will that spawn an era of international cooperation? How do you measure that effect. Human Space travel to Mars will likely not happen overnight or even in the next 20 years. But it will happen. It is our nature to explore limits.

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#3

Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 12:16 AM

Would we actually gain more benefit, beyond just being able to say we've done it?

Yes.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 3:10 AM

Let's hope we don't go to the moon or Mars for a while yet.

We have rubbish dumps in the Antarctic, we have past civilisations that have ripped out all the trees up to 200 miles away, we spoil good grazing and cropping land with mining and polluted water from gasification schemes, we still don't recycle properly, and we have a throwaway rather than repair approach to goods we purchase. When we have used up all the Uranium, oil and coal, and have had to learn how to live properly with nature, then it is time to sail away to other worlds, for we will have the right mentality bent and are more likely to treat them properly.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 7:59 AM

Yes if you can find useful metals there.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 8:25 AM

Congress can't fund the FAA. What makes us think they can get off the planet???

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 10:04 AM

Beacuse... they have already done it. They have been "on another" planet for some time now have they not? Put it this way... they sure don't live in the real world with the rest of us.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 11:52 AM

Ever read NASA TECH BRIEFS? There is tremendous amount of advanced technical information available that can be or is currently is use on this our planet. Some of the most ingenious people on the earth work for NASA and their knowledge is available to us. Unfortunately because of shortsighted corporation purchased (thanks supreme court) legislators, funding is being pulled.

As humans, the stars have called to us for 1000s of years. We will need to leave sooner or later, let's start now. There is a wealth of new knowledge waiting for us.

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#9

Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 12:11 PM

YES

First of all such adventures provide inspiration to an entire planet.

Then there is the employment aspect, providing jobs for thousands of our best and the brightest and again inspiring others to become the best or the brightest. Employment for tens of thousands of support staff for those PhDs.

Then there is the knowledge. We will discover answers to questions we haven't even asked yet because we won't discover the question until me make the attempt.

Finally there is the survival aspect. We have been siting ducks here far too long with all our eggs in one basket. We need to begin diversifying and spreading out. So that one errant asteroid can't take us all out in one shot.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 12:20 PM

No!!! We can learn everything we need to know about mars, with robots. Waste of time and money.

We can't get along here. Why would anyone think that would change on an inhospitable planet where breathable air, water, and food are in even shorter supply?

It wouldn't work like it does in the movies.

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#11
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 1:08 PM

Do you honestly feel that you can learn everything you need to know without an actual on site inspection? Really? Do you by any chance have any experience in an industry that involves remote data analysis in real time?

I do and I would not for an instant be arrogant enough to suggest that my remote "viewing" gives me as good a picture of what's happening than direct observation, no matter how good the process involved in gathering the information.

To know a place you need to be there, simple as that. Only by making an concerted effort to at least establish a long term presence on Mars could we in any way say that we are coming to know it. As others have said in this thread there are questions we do not even know to ask yet as our frame of reference is of necessity Earth bound.

As for the cost part of you argument, I'd counter that we cannot afford not to make an attempt to spread ourselves to Mars. Far from being a waste it'd be the single most high valve spending in the history of the human race.

Of course that requires that we accept the value of things rather than just the cost.

As for "getting along." You may actually be right insofar as just because we were on another planet there is no reason to expect us to "get along." We are a fractious and argumentative race and it'd got us to where we are today, technologically and socially. Does that mean we shold not make the attempt to explore and grow as a race? I do not believe so.

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#12
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 1:39 PM

Have fun!

http://www.universetoday.com/14702/what-is-mars-made-of/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars

We know a lot more about Mars than you think, and one thing is for sure......................it is uninhabitable for humans.

If you get a remote view of the inside of a freezer or an oven, combined with accurate readings of what it's like in there, do you feel compelled to go live in there to find out for yourself that it sucks?

What if the freezer or oven was about 35 million miles away?

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#13
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 1:45 PM

DITTO.. Stick you guns, a total wast of taxpayer's money.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 4:47 PM

So are the research stations in the antarctic, deep sea missions or even the international space station a waist of money?

All of those places are very deadly to man and if something goes wrong you might as well be on Mars for all the good it will do you.

Terra-forming Mars is also an option but we will only know if we can get there and observe things.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 1:58 PM

For anyone that thinks we're going to hop and skip our way across the universe and get reestablished, here's the closet planet that might be able to sustain human life.....................................20.5 light years away.

Lets see..................at 186,000 miles per second, assuming we will be able to travel at the speed of light........................

Interesting stuff, but pure fantasy at this point fellas. Maybe we should focus on earth a little more.

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#15
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 2:15 PM

In any endeavor, the lowest hanging fruit is always picked first.

We have visited the moon; that was the easy one. The next lowest piece to be picked is Mars.

Now the question: "Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?" Dunno. Nobody knows. Might be a total waste of resources, adding absolutely nothing new to our knowledge of how our solar system was formed or how it works. This in itself is a valuable thing to know, proving our methods of investigation and interpretation of data are accurate.

Now another question: "Would Human Flight to Mars Be Worth The Expense, For An Unknown Tangible Value?" Different question. I still dunno.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 2:23 PM

I'm guessing that there was tangible value in sending men to the moon, but I can't think of anything off the top of my head.

With the advances in robotic technology, I can't help but wonder if the human aspect of it was nill...............................I mean besides being able to say that we did it. Which is cool, but not of any intrinsic value.

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#18
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 4:55 PM

Think how different the world would be if the old sea explorers felt that way.

Is it worth the risk or the cost in both resources and life, I don't know but if we just sit on our asses and worry we will defenatly not get anywhere and a society that stagnates dies, change is life.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 5:11 PM

I agree with your assessment................................we should continue unlocking the secrets of, and working on the problems of life on earth, before heading off to a dead, uninhabitable planet, 35 million miles away.

a society that stagnates dies

So you envision a society on Mars?

There are lots of things we know about Mars, which are provided in the links I posted earlier. I didn't notice anything that suggests that it would support a human society.

In fact, based on what we already know, I'd like to hear some speculation on what, of tangible value, we would hope to get from a manned mission.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 5:30 PM

For one it would probably make a good base for any mining operations in the asteroid belt.

As I stated in a previous post the Terra-forming the plant is also an option though a long term one. So the sooner we start the better.

I saw a program the a few years ago that suggested that it would take about 25 years to Terra-form Mars to a state that could support life.

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#22
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 7:55 PM

Mining operations in the asteroid belt? For what? Iron?

Here's a tangible question..............................Whose going to pay for this?

25 years of terra-forming is going to do what? Create a breathable atmosphere?

Where's the water going to come from to support terra-forming, much less sustain humans? Tankers from earth?

What energy source? Solar? We can't make that feasible here. Why would it work better on Mars?

I'm not sold.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 8:13 PM

Mining raw materials. Earths resources are not going to last forever.

As for water. Dropping space ice (from comets, asteroids or even mine it for moons from the outer planets) into Marses gravity well.

But thats my point, we wont know till we try.

And as we grow, there will be less and less land, less and less resources.

So why wait till it become critical before looking off planet for solutions

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#24
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 8:47 PM

You funny.

First of all, humans are being replaced by robots on earth, across the board. It makes sense, and it saves money. Why do we need the human component on Mars?

Secondly, why would you think that after we use up and burn off all of our resources on earth, that somehow salvation could be found on barren rocks out in space?

Keep trying.......................I'm still not sold.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 9:37 PM

And just what do these robots that are replacing us do? Do they by chance adapt and innovate as they are exposed to new data? No, for true exploration you need a human component.

All right, of course you can argue that remote access can fulfill some of these functions, sent back the data and get it analysed on Earth. Then send the commands to your (limmited) robotic system on Mars. Wait. Oh, then realise you do not have the equipment you need to observe, analyse and interpret the data.

Come on people - this is not rocket science (pun intended).

If you do not have an on site presence - you do not have the flexability to adapt to changing situations.

Not to address the cost aspect of the argument. This is harder to do since it is inevitably bound up in the personal agendas of the debaters.

We can argue that the worth outweights the cost, we could argue thatthe money could be better spent on Earth. All of these arguments are valid enough despite being diametrically opposite. Personally I formly believe that the potential benefits, both tangible and intangible of a manned, permanent presence on Mars outweights the costs. That is not to say that any single government should attempt this on their own. I'd forsee an effort more akin to the ISS in reaching Mars and establishing a colony. Yes, colony.

I'd suggest that the difficulties (massive though they are) are solvable using current technology. This had been suggested (although not perhaps proven) by a yriad of experiments ranging from various Artic and Antanrtic stations, the various "sealed" biospheres around the world, the recent "Mars Mission" and of course the ISS itself.

Again, in my most humble opinion I feel that the argument against a manned mission and eventual colony on Mars is the same argument against any kind of research. Is stem cell treatment similarly a waste since we have never needed it before? Waht about energy research? Fusion, fuel cells, battery technology? Are all these "bad?"

We need to stop messing about and get a move on. Mars is reachable with 1970's technology (dammit an enhanced Apollo could have gone there) let alone what we could come up with now.

Perhaps (at the risk of going off topic) the best thing that could have happened was the retreat from space by NASA. They seem to have mismanaged the manned space program for decades until finally we reach the current situation.

I'd suggest reading "Encounter With Tiber" in which Buzz Aldrin at one point describes a realistic method of reaching first orbit then the planets. Then move on to the "Mars" trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson and think about what is suggested. Like most good SF they have a firm grounding in fact and between them may just convince you of the benefits.

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#26
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 9:39 PM

I'll tell you what.................................lets make a deal.

Create a self sustaining human colony in the middle of the Sahara Desert, and I'll approve your manned Mars mission.

I'll even give you a head start. A breathable atmosphere, and possibly the largest aquifer of fresh water on earth, right below your feet.

I look forward to your report.

Major Tom, over and out.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 5:31 PM

Nevermind. I just looked up tangible.

We could touch it.................................neat.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/22/2011 11:07 PM

There is an interesting book that addresses many of the questions posed by this blog called Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku.A further resource should be found int the Augustine Commission report presented to Barak Obama in 2009. Both of these are lengthy to read but even reading portions should provide much food for thought. Highly recommended.

Kaku tried to explain the well being of a nation by looking at the earth from an alien visitor around 1500 ad. If the alien were to decide which country were to suceed he would have chosen China or the great Ottoman Empire. Both of these were much further advanced than the European countries. The Chinese had invented things like gun powder, the compass, paper, the printing press, etc. The Ottoman empire invented algebra, physics, and the stars. It came close to being the dominating force of all Europe. Yet both of these empires turned inward and experienced scientific and technology stagnation. The Chinese went into isolation and the Ottoman empire embraced religious fundamentalism.

Europe was mired in religious fundamentalism and the alien observer could never predict Europe to be a scientific and technology leader. But that is what happened. The Europeans gradually displaced the religious fundamentalism with science and enlightenment. Real wealth came to the Europeans and they soon surpassed the former world leaders. The former became stagnant in development and were much poorer for that fact.

If we are to believe history, then I would say the worst thing that could happen would be to create a stagnation in development and that includes space. There are many future space developmental goals that could be reached before the end of this century. These include things like laser propulsion, improved nano-tube technology, and of course a space elevator first envisioned by A.C. Clarke. The steps needed for space travel include improving the science of cryogenics, stem cell research, medical engineering, etc. All of these improvements will create a wealth of measurable benefits. So what benefit does travel to Mars create? All of the science of human longevity and biology will benefit. The engineering of new methods of travel and economics of travel will be sought and attained. It is likely and recommended by the Augustine report that we first revisit and colonize the moon before attempting Mars. The time frame is not tomorrow or based on spending money we don't have yet. It is suggested a target date of 2030 to 2070 to establish a moon base. Somehow I think that time frame is even optimistic but not out of reach. The point is that it will happen and all the world will prosper. I do believe some of our petty earthly infighting and competitions will be focused once we attain a point of recognition of advancement. We have everything to gain and conversely, everything to lose if we do not proceed and allow science to lead the way. The worst thing to do is nothing and repeat the history of China and the Ottomans around 1500 ad. 2 cents.

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#28
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/23/2011 7:32 AM

Well put, and reasonable.

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#35
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/30/2011 4:41 AM

The problem is decisions are made by politicians not by scientists or economists. Remember J.F.Kennedy said in 1960s "we will put a man in the moon before the end of this decade". George Bush(father and son)attacking Iraq.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/30/2011 12:52 PM

I am trying not to draw this discussion into the political arena. Decisions are made by politicians in democracies but with input from all sectors including the scientific and economic sectors. In some jurisdictions decisions are made by theologians, oligarchies, or sometimes by sole dictators or a military junta. In these types of governments, decisions are made without any consultation or regard to its people and with no checks or balances called accountability. History has been and will be brutal to those who don't follow good government and allow their country's well being to deteriorate. In a democracy we can always kick out people we think are not following the will of the people and make poor decisions.

All I am saying is woe to the country that wants to ignore education in science and engineering. I am also advocating that this site (CR4) be a strong voice to promote science and engineering and use it as a guide to move forward. This advocacy of science and engineering is based on historical fact but does not mean we should ignore the reality of the day. Sometimes we can afford to proceed very quickly with some types of exploration but other times we must heed the economics and proceed slowly but always proceed. With regard to Martian exploration, I suggest you read the Armstrong Commission report for better information.

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#37
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/31/2011 5:47 AM

In all democracies decisions are not made by politicians.In some Islamic,Christian,Hindu and Muslim priests known as clergy. If leaders worship they won't care any body on this earth USA has told that "we don't understand why the buddhist monks are against giving rights to racial/religious minority Tamils". Do they not understand or do no want to accept facts?.why?.

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#29

Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/25/2011 10:11 AM

Given that any nation has a fixed 'income', AND that it cost us about a trillion to go to the moon AND if we (the United States at least) were spending trillions to go to Mars THEN we wouldn't have had the money to go into Iraq.

Presuming roughly the same expense of about a trillion a year, one choice produces technological advances and admiration from the international community; the other feeds our defense industry and garners condemnation from the world community.

Lets go to Mars.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/25/2011 10:57 AM

If you want to attack Iran you may find another "contract killer" like Tony Blair.

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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/25/2011 11:00 AM

Since when has not having the money stopped us from doing anything?

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#32
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Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/25/2011 10:06 PM

The military machine is the technical development department of the Mars mission.

The trillions spent on the military's security adventures is part of the total project cost.

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#33

Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/29/2011 2:11 AM

NO.
MAN -- going to MARS, would be an extremely high, unwarrantable risk; very few rewards, far beyond what well planned remote (robotic) explorers would provide. The enormous extra risk, not to mention the (many times!!) additional cost, can not -- by any rational and completed set of logical reasoning, be justified.
Get a grip, people... humanity needs to realize -- to recognize -- that we have practical, reasonable limits to what is "worth the candle"; we need to address "fixing" the problems on our own planet, before we begin to think of 'taking on' the rest of the -- (solar system; -- nearest star system(s); -- galaxy; -- universe; -- etc., etc., on and on and on, 'ad infinitum' (latin)...).
Humans are finite, very temporal beings. No amount of wishing, daydreaming, hoping, praying, or even the best 'thinking' we can muster up, will ever be able to change that...
(We'll never give up, of course, but continue trying, anyway...)
Eventually, we already know, Entropy will be the undeclared winner.

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Join Date: Jun 2011
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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Would Human Flight to Mars Bring Tangible Value?

12/30/2011 1:04 AM

We can do more than one thing at a time....

"save" our planet and boldly go.....

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