“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” -Albert Einstein

The Mars Curiosity Rover and the Mars Science Laboratory mission are so important that writing about the landing, going on the news, and writing about it again simply wasn’t enough. So when the Portland Tribune called me and invited me to write an op-ed for them (my first!) on the topic, I just had to say yes.

The Curiosity rover is inside Gale Crater, where a liquid lake almost certainly once existed and billions of years of geological history are waiting to be explored. With all systems functional, it’s in prime condition to meet all six of its science goals, including to explore the martian soil, understand the martian atmosphere, and monitor solar and cosmic radiation on Mars.

But it also means something more, if we dare to invest in it. It means we’re ready to send a manned mission to Mars. We’ve successfully developed and used the technology necessary to make a heavy, safe, controlled landing of human beings on the Red Planet. We know what needs to be done to make the 350 million-mile journey from Earth to Mars safe for humans. We’ve got the know-how, we’ve got the experience, we’ve got the astronauts and we’ve got the plans.

All we need to make this a reality is to invest in the people who can make it happen.

Go read the whole thing, and feel free to chime in with your opinion, too. And thanks, to all of you, for helping support something great in (and beyond) this world.

Comments

  1. #1 Davebert
    Florida
    August 16, 2012

    Excellent op-ed. Very engaging way of making the case for exploration.

    But don’t you think it’s a bit premature to send humans to Mars before we’ve had the opportunity to fully characterize the possible past/present microbiome? A human presence will almost certainly mean contamination with countless earth microbes, potentially drowning out any possible signal of indigenous Mars life.

  2. #2 billminuke
    san diego
    August 16, 2012

    I quite conflicted on the matter of sending humans to Mars. If we did it would likely increase funding to scientific research, at least Nasa. On the downside the project would take funding away from more valuable scientific experiments. Of course it would be cool and exciting, but it wouldn’t be the best bang for the scientific buck.
    if we could let go of “nationalism” and cooperate with EU, Russia, Japan, China, India and anyone else willing to kick in a couple of bucks, and have a global Mars project, it’d be better than just us, because it would create international good will, lessen the financial burden on us and encourage science globally. I like that idea, lets do it!

  3. #3 Russell
    August 16, 2012

    Sure as there are shergottites on the museum shelves, we may even have the genes

  4. #4 Chelle
    August 17, 2012

    The khaki colors and hi-tech machinery make it look like this picture is taken from on top of a tank in Iraq. It makes me wonder if they also have some (laser guided) weapon on board, in case a Martian Warlord shows up with knife in hand, claiming our Curiosity: http://www.dynamite.net/previews/C72513018405401311/Deja3covBerkenkotter.jpg

  5. #5 Zme
    August 17, 2012

    @Chelle:

    You don’t think the ChemCam rock vaporisation laser is for science purposes only, do you?

  6. #6 robb
    August 17, 2012

    i heard they tested the Chemcam laser by mounting it on sharks.

  7. #7 chelle
    August 17, 2012

    Zme,

    Nice, I guess that they also got a speaker system on board in case the situation becomes to hostile, so they can say: “put your hands above your head or we will shoot!”, and a cassette deck to play some soothing music to lure whatever is on that planet out of its caves.