Astronomy

Going to Mars



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A long forgotten USA State of the Union speech (2004) mentioned planning for a manned mission to Mars. Such a trip has been quite the staple for golden age SF as we'd gotten to the Moon and next step was the red planet. The below is pure conjecture based on the linked article.

A recent article mentioned that NASA has only been planning for potential return journeys rather than a potential "hey, thanks for going and don't forget to write" style one way trip.

Quote:
But McLane thinks NASA is at fault for not even considering a one-way mission to Mars. "For over forty years they've studied all sorts of options, but haven't admitted to ever looking at a one-way mission to Mars," he said.




The logistics for a one way trip are certainly simplified than that for a potential return journey. Additionally, supplying a single person also reduces the necessary payload and redundancy. However, the potential risks of a solo journey have got to be quite daunting. Not only is the sheer isolation on the trip itself somewhat of a jaw dropper there's also the potential medical issues along the way ("damn, what a time to get appendicitis") as well as the more mental medical issues. For instance, sending someone all that way just for them to go crazy certainly wouldn't be a winning situation.

This is also ignoring the issues with surviving on Mars as well. Would the plan involve a mere minimum of supplies once they arrive and once they run out it's goodnight nurse? Would unmanned supply missions be launched, at great expense and potential disaster, to aid the lone explorer?

The Mars rovers have been an unqualified success in their longevity and usefulness (people seeing Big Foot in pictures aside) but we do have to ask ourselves what would we gain from sending a manned mission? There's certainly the kudos for achieving a long time dream as well as bragging rights for being willing to (potentially) sacrifice yourself in the name of discovery. The expense is going to be damning if not ruinous to be sure but it would be better, IMO, to squander wealth on achieving something rather than destroying other's achievements.

Still, does the potential for the journey being one way change anyone's enthusiasm/apathy for the project?




P.S: It's good to be back here. Just came back from Boot Camp. Part of the 101st Airborne now. Heavy weapons specialest here.

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