But just because I have this grim view of things, doesn't mean I don't want them to try. If L.Spiro manages to spend the rest of his/her life on Mars, I will be overjoyed. I honestly want nothing more than for you to come back in thirty yearsGood. Then I will be at my most polite in replying to all that you have posted instead of being my most direct.
You have missed some very important points (well that was a bit direct).
- The blunt fact is that many of those willing to go are already so satisfied with their lives that they don’t even care that terribly if they die on the way, never even ending up setting foot on the planet itself. That certainly would be the best end result (to set foot on Mars that is), but speaking for myself I am willing to accept death-on-the way as just the icing on an already unbelievable life. I am still young and already I have enough stories to tell that would keep anyone interested for hours. I have traveled the Earth, spent years in foreign countries. My office building was bombed while I was working in it. I have a second job acting and my face has been plastered over entire movie theater screens, not to mention countless TV appearances in Japan. It was also one of my childhood dreams to be an author and I have a contract right now with Addison-Wesley. It may not be done yet but it would be before I blew up in space or died on Mars.
The point is I am 30 and could die right now and still feel that I have lived more of a life than most. I have dated a celebrity, I have discovered a body, I have dodged bullets, I have evacuated bombed buildings, I have witnessed a train suicide, I was born and raised within a few miles of the BTK killer, I have reached my dreams of working on Final Fantasy games, living in Tokyo, writing a book, and being on the big screen, and so much more I could talk your ear off. Death on Mars (or en-route)? How many people get to do that! Add it to the list. Seriously.
We already know it is a 1-way trip and we will die out there without a proper burial. That doesn’t mean we have given up on life. It means we are so satisfied with our current lives that that is acceptable, and “the next big thing” in our lives just does not await us here on Earth.
- Mental states of those ready to go aside, you seem to under-estimate how many supplies will already be there before the astronauts even first land. 8 shipments of supplies will be there before the first team lands (with even more supplies with them). The rovers are necessary for extracting water from under the soil, and will certainly need repair at times, but Opportunity has already lasted over 8 years with no support from humans. Our rovers are expected to last much longer even without support, but since they will have support they will last even longer than that. Essentially all of the supplies will be there for no shorter than a 30-40-year self-sustainable period, so if funding does get cut (which is inevitable) it wouldn’t really shorten the lives of anyone on Mars.
Assuming 1 team goes, a 2nd team is also guaranteed. Funding will probably allow for a 3rd, possibly a 4th. The first team gets to assess what supplies the 2nd team should bring. This is a bit of a fail-safe because it allows us to account for the unexpected, and a second shipment of supplies is guaranteed.
- So it is established that the colony would last no fewer than about 40 years, plus the 10-year training period on Earth and the 20-year
-old minimum barrier. Meaning you would be 70 by the time you died on Mars in the worst case. Meaning you are more likely to die by car on Earth than by a sudden lack of shipments to Mars.
- But let’s assume the worst anyway and say the funding has run dry and the colony is doomed. It wouldn’t shorten your life nor would it nullify all of your efforts. The program is guaranteed to be resumed at some point in the future. Even if it takes 100 years for technology to make up for our current shortcomings both in money and efficiency, it will be resumed. A new colony would not just be started over from scratch and all of our efforts wasted. Even if that did happen, the original site of the original colonists gets preserved as a planetary monument.
- But why assume the worst when we have 10 years before we even lift off and 30-40 more years to figure things out out there? If you want to discuss the worst case, don’t forget the best case. Technology advances quite rapidly and it may easily be cheaper to get there just in the next 10 years, let alone the next 50. Every argument you have made is thinking in the now, yet it will be 10 more years before anyone even takes off. Instead of thinking about the challenges we face today, think about the challenges that will be faced in 10 years with better technology and most of today’s problems solved.
There are also 40 years’ worth of discovery on the surface of Mars to save our own asses, minimum. There are minerals to be mined and plastics will be manufacturable. There are underground rivers to be discovered and 1,000-foot potholes into which to accidentally step.
Is the journey safe?
As it says, should we sit here and do nothing but twiddle our thumbs?