Come read my first invited Op-Ed in the news!

"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.

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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.

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!

By billminuke (not verified) on 16 Aug 2012 #permalink


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

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


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.