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Curiosity Killed the Cat – Well, DUH, There’s no Air on Mars! I te

August 7, 2012

I tell you, my brain is bifurcated.  WE’VE LANDED ON MARS! (I know, we’ve landed other probes on Mars, but this one is the uber-probe and will hopefully work).

The geek side of my brain is truly excited.

The conspiracy nut side says, “So what? If anything really interesting shows up, the government won’t let us see it.”

Geek side: Dude, there’s nothing to hide.  There aren’t any aliens or faces on Mars.  It’s just cool we’re there looking around!

Conspiracy nut side: Yeah, probably, but what if there is?  What if we find a 12-toed footprint or a hologram welcoming us to the Red Planet?  We’ll never know.  And besides, wouldn’t it be more cool if there was something exciting up there?

Truthfully, I am curious.  Will they find concrete evidence of prior open water on Mars (how cool would that be?)  Will they find life?  (I doubt it, honestly, but I’d be thrilled to be wrong).

Many years ago, there was a plan for a manned mission to Mars.  It’s possible, doable and by-golly, it’s our responsibility to do it!   I saw some of the plans when I worked at Boeing and while it looked uncomfortable, I was all for it.  After I left, I tried to keep somewhat plugged in, but had little luck.  I did know the window for liftoff was closing (we’d need Mars at its closest approach to Earth for a manned mission) and then it did close.  We’d have to wait 15 years for another shot at a manned mission.  Then the economy started to fail and a government attempt went up in ashes.  We’re not even able to get to the space station on our own anymore.

Bummer.

To me, other than my own fiscal impacts, the demise of the space program is my biggest sorrow regarding our suffering economy.

The ISS was supposed to be the first step to a solid space footing.  Imagine manufacturing in space?  The intra-solar system ships built in space would not be designed around atmosphere mobility (until the Borg cubes showed up, the shape of spacecraft in Star Trek made no sense.  Graceful aerodynamic shapes wouldn’t be necessary.  You can build a mobile resort up there and jet around in comfort).

I won’t live long enough for manned flights to the gas giants and their moons; Mars is about it, though I suppose Venus would be a slim possibility, but humans on Venus wouldn’t live very long in that atmosphere and lightening trap.  So Mars is it.

Why does it matter?  I wouldn’t go.  There isn’t really much there to get excited about.  Yet despite my maleness that can never appreciate the journey over the destination, it IS about the journey, the achievement, the challenge.  It’s also about the spin-off technology.  There aren’t many projects our best scientists and engineers would want to work on together, but space flight is one of them.  The products that would come from the best minds in the world solving problems would revitalize society.

We might see flying cars after all…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 7, 2012 8:15 pm

    Along similar lines, you might appreciate this: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/08/why-explore-space.html

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