October 24, 2010

One-way mission to Mars idea nothing new

For all of you excited by the whole 'one-way mission to Mars' idea, you should probably know that this strategy has been around for quite some time now. NASA engineers Robert Zubrin and David Baker originally detailed the Mars Direct plan in 1990 and was later expanded upon in Zubrin's 1996 book, The Case for Mars. It now serves as a staple of Zubrin's speaking engagements and general advocacy as head of the Mars Society, an organization devoted to the colonization of Mars.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, in their recent Journal of Cosmology article, are merely riffing off and expanding upon this original idea.

Regardless, it is a very good idea.

We already have the requisite technologies required to pull off such a mission. All we need is the will.

And finding volunteers for a one-way mission shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure there are many hopefuls chomping at the bit over such an opportunity. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a permanently one-way mission; given enough time and infrastructure development, the original team could eventually make their way back home.

I'm also partial to the idea of sending a perpetual chain of supplies to an established Martian base. It makes so much sense; just going to Mars and back (a la Apollo missions) seems a bit ridiculous, wasteful and pointless. As Schulze-Makuch and Davies note in their article, To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars, the red planet is concealing a a wealth of geological and astronomical data that is almost impossible to access from Earth using robotic probes. “A permanent human presence on Mars would open the way to comparative planetology on a scale unimagined by any former generation," they write, "A Mars base would offer a springboard for human/robotic exploration of the outer solar system and the asteroid belt. And establishing a permanent multicultural and multinational human presence on another world would have major beneficial political and social implications for Earth, and serve as a strong unifying and uplifting theme for all humanity.”

Bingo. Moreover, our survival as a species may depend on it. While I have our doubts about humanity ever becoming in interstellar species, we are clearly on track to becoming intrastellar. There's no reason to believe that we can't (or shouldn't) find ways to inhabit space and other planets in our solar system. The imperative to do so has never been more obvious; all our eggs are in one basket at the dawn of a potential apocalyptic age.

So yes, get your ass to Mars.

3 comments:

ZarPaulus said...

Why bring this up now?

And I suppose the only question is whether this will be done by governments or corporations (my money's on China).

TheseAreMyFriends said...

Hey I've read this blog for a long time but this is my first time commenting:

"We already have the requisite technologies required to pull off such a mission. All we need is the will."

Not really... having worked for NASA for some time I can say with some credibility that sending a human to mars safely is incredibly different that delivering a payload.

"And finding volunteers for a one-way mission shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure there are many hopefuls chomping at the bit over such an opportunity. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a permanently one-way mission; given enough time and infrastructure development, the original team could eventually make their way back home."

That is kind of naïve... There is no possible way "the original team" could actually construct another device to send them back to earth, the equipment alone would weigh several hundreds of thousands of tons.

The is really no way to have a prolonged presence on mars. Not in the near future. We don't have the technology right now to keep a base operable for any more than a few weeks.

Even in the distant future we still won't have the technology to terraform mars.

We're good... but we're not that good.

I think a healthy dose of realism is required for those who support the idea of a "one-way" mission to mars.

Just another technical blogger said...

From what I recall, this is how the Mars colony was started in the Red,Green,Blue Mars series of books from the 90's.