The Case for Mars

Here’s the latest release from the Symphony of Science folk, “The Case for Mars”. Using autotuned vocals of various scientists discussing particular topics, the SoS folk have created a series of evocative call(s)-to-arms – in this case, for human exploration of Mars:

Although then, there’s also this ‘Case for Mars’ too

Note that if you enoy the Symphony of Science music videos, you can support them by making a donation at their website.

Editor
  1. The Case for Earth
    Hi Greg –

    I used to believe in the Case for Mars.

    Then I realized that Mars is not like the Earth, can not be made like the Earth, and further may harbor organisms which would have devastating consequences should they be brought back to the Earth.

    I also learned that impacts had occurred much more often in the recent past than is known, and had devastating consequences.

    Right now, I’d rather be prepared for an impact than for flying a few men to Mars for a few days. We can send robots to Mars now for a fraction of the cost.

    What will it take to find the next piece of stuff before it hits? Large space based telescopes and radars, whether based at L2 or on the surface of the Moon. My guess is that China’s goal in space for 2025 on is to build these instruments on the Moon.

    So explore Mars with humans? Yes, but only after the essential hazard is taken care of.

  2. How much would you sacrifice?
    Open question:

    How much would you be willing to *personally* sacrifice, in order to finance a manned trip to Mars within your lifetime?

    Say for example, that someone came up to you and said that, in order to finance the trip, you personally would have to skip eating meat for a whole year.

    Would you do it?

    1. An interesting question
      Government funded? – Probably nothing. As an American, I have been paying all sorts of taxes for years. Collectively, American taxpayers have likely paid enough to cover multiple trips to Mars. The idiots in Congress and NASA have blown all the money with no or very little effective result. Someone needs to get their act together before I would reconsider.

      Privately funded? – If I could be confident that the enterprise would work and I had a piece of the action, I would be happy to put in some long hours and hard labor for a couple of years. Now, if I got to fly and set foot on Mars, I would gladly eat veggie burgers there and back!

    2. How much would you personally sacrifice?
      Another open question:

      How much would you be willing to *personally* sacrifice, in order to prevent the next impact catastrophe from occurring?

      The small ones (tunguska class) occur about 1 time per 100 years. How much damage they WILL do depends on where they hit, and can range from nothing to 10,000,000 deaths. That is if they don’t cause a nuclear reactor meltdown or trigger an exchange of WMD.

      The medium size ones occur about 1 time per 1,000 years. 7 out of 10 times they hit water, and with current coastal population loads WILL cause around 60,000,000 deaths. 3 out of 10 times they hit land, and the ensuing dust load WILL cause climate and crop failures, with deaths from 25,000,000 to 500,000,000.

      The large comets hit 1 per 26,000,000 years roughly. Everything ends if detection and mitigation are not improved.

      Now how much are you willing to spend? Remember NASA already gets $17,000,000,000 – $18,000,000,000 per year, of which they spend too small a part on the problem, despite clear instructions from the Congress.

      1. zero sum
        This question about Mars or impact prevention is phrased wrong. It is not a zero sum game.

        We need pretty much the same technologies for either one. And developing the capabilities is not an expense, it is and investment.

        Just as the question of serious impacts is about when and how much, not if, so is the question about returns on investment in space capabilities. Some of these things are not really new, just questions of scale. We need to have bigger and faster capabilities, and we need to observe more things and more accurately. For the most part we know how to do this.

        It is silly to ask for one specific purpose of an investment of this magnitude.

        We also should not ignore the downside if we do not make these investments. The obvious short term consequence is that somebody else probably will make them, and will then have tools to dominate.

        The longer term consequence of not making the investments is that in 100 or 200 years, we probably can’t.

        1. Convergent Results

          We need pretty much the same technologies for either one. And developing the capabilities is not an expense, it is and investment.

          I agree completely. R&D in a manned mission to Mars would yield many benefits to other space-related endeavors.

          Plus, let’s face it e.p.: Selling a ticket to Mars to the public will always be easier than selling a meteorite defense system. I’m not condoning it, or saying it’s right; I’m just telling it like it is.

          1. True, but
            [quote=red pill junkie]

            Plus, let’s face it e.p.: Selling a ticket to Mars to the public will always be easier than selling a meteorite defense system. I’m not condoning it, or saying it’s right; I’m just telling it like it is.[/quote]

            I’ll disagree, rpj. Mars sells to Mars enthusiasts, but not the general public, and hasn’t for years, otherwise we would already have gone there. It’s fun and all that, but when it comes down to their dollars, manned Mars flight fails.

            See:
            http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/5/31/871021/-Research-2000-Poll-on-Space-Exploration-Policy
            http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/january_2010/50_favor_cutting_back_on_space_exploration

            Note Obama is actually raising NASA’s budget despite these numbers. Why? Because 63% of US citizens set planetary defense as their top space priority:

            http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30644

          2. Mars enthusiasts
            Well, I would imagine there a lot of people willing to support a manned mission to Mars among the general public, because it’s the kind of romantic endeavor that fuels the imagination, specially among the younger generations โ€”ask any 12-year-old if they would like to be the first astronaut to ever set foot over Mons Olympus, and the outcome would not be surprising ๐Ÿ˜‰

            I don’t think it should be a case of making a quarrel about whose space project is coolest or more important, though โ€”the discussion would be never-ending, because someone might suggest that to deploy a worthy meteor detection system, you would have to put telescopes on the far side of the Moon, and we’re back to square one with our priorities.

            Thing is this: The survival of the species is nothing but a big test; if we are able to quit spending so much money in things like the next biggest arrow, like we’ve been done for the last 5 millenia, we might just make it. Otherwise…

          3. CAPS and Mars
            Hi RPJ –

            [quote=red pill junkie]Well, I would imagine there a lot of people willing to support a manned mission to Mars among the general public, because it’s the kind of romantic endeavor that fuels the imagination, specially among the younger generations โ€”ask any 12-year-old if they would like to be the first astronaut to ever set foot over Mons Olympus, and the outcome would not be surprising ๐Ÿ˜‰
            [/quote]

            Yes, but not the general public as a whole, which is what is needed for public funding.

            [quote=red pill junkie]
            I don’t think it should be a case of making a quarrel about whose space project is coolest or more important, though โ€”the discussion would be never-ending, because someone might suggest that to deploy a worthy meteor detection system, you would have to put telescopes on the far side of the Moon, and we’re back to square one with our priorities.[/quote]

            The “someone” who suggested that only using Moon based systems was a skilled team of NASA engineers at NASA Langley. Their proposal
            CAPS, the Comet and Asteroid Protection System, was buried by NASA management. However, the Chinese space leadership and leadership read it, and it appears they think its a pretty good plan.

            If you use L2 to construct CAPS, then you’re on your way to Mars at a reasonable cost. Otherwise, you’re back to step one.

            [quote=red pill junkie]
            Thing is this: The survival of the species is nothing but a big test; if we are able to quit spending so much money in things like the next biggest arrow, like we’ve been done for the last 5 millenia, we might just make it. Otherwise…[/quote]

            Yes…

        2. Very good analysis again, earthling, IMHO
          [quote=earthling]This question about Mars or impact prevention is phrased wrong. It is not a zero sum game.

          We need pretty much the same technologies for either one. And developing the capabilities is not an expense, it is and investment.
          [/quote]

          Right, but the Mars Enthusiasts do not see it that way.

          [quote=earthling]
          Just as the question of serious impacts is about when and how much, not if, so is the question about returns on investment in space capabilities. Some of these things are not really new, just questions of scale. We need to have bigger and faster capabilities, and we need to observe more things and more accurately. For the most part we know how to do this.

          It is silly to ask for one specific purpose of an investment of this magnitude. [/quote]

          Right again. Its nice to know your analysis is spot on.

          [quote=earthling]
          We also should not ignore the downside if we do not make these investments. The obvious short term consequence is that somebody else probably will make them, and will then have tools to dominate.
          [/quote]

          Right again, but…
          My guess from their public statements is China, but their leadership is interested in peaceful development, not domination.
          They’ve been dominated themselves, and have no taste for it.

          [quote=earthling]
          The longer term consequence of not making the investments is that in 100 or 200 years, we probably can’t.[/quote]

          Possibly. But how much of their budget should NASA be spending on this now?

          Always a pleasure discussing things with you, earthling, even when we differ.

  3. How much would you sacrifice?
    Let’s take a “hypothetical” example.

    Supposing your chances of dying completing the mission were somewhere between 1 in 20 to 1 in 30.

    Suppose there was a 4 out 5 chance that your training for the mission would end your marriage and separate you from your family.

    Suppose that no one you knew could understand your experience after the mission.

    Suppose that after the mission you had developed unique skills which were not valuable outside of specialized niche of the space industry.

    I don’t have any trouble suggesting the manned construction of impactor detection systems.

    The impact hazard is that bad.

    1. No probs
      If i do make it, I can still sell the rights for a TV movie to HBO ๐Ÿ˜‰

      (um… what mission are we talking specifically and hypothetically here?)

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