Why Mars?

Could someone explain to me why Nasa is so focused on Mars?
What are the benifits of exploring, sending a man to and colonizing Mars? How is this not a huge waste of money and resources?

  1. It’s the closest planet, so if you’re going to go the “planet searching” route, it makes sense.

  2. After Earth, it’s the most hospitable planet for life. It’s got a carbon dioxide atmosphere, ice, and it can get up to about 0 Celsius at the equator.

  3. It looks like it might have once had oceans. If so, other than Earth, it’s the only planet that has.

  4. With the exception of technical errors, there aren’t many problems in sending surface probes. Mars doesn’t have a superhot corrosive atmoshpere like Venus, and the outside of the planet has a solid crust, unlike the gas giants.

Nitpick. Venus is the closest planet, at least on average. At times Mars or Mercury can be closest, though.

Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. My second and third questions are more of what I wish to find out.

NASA is focused on Mars for a lot of reasons, but the best (as far as I’m concerned) is because they need a second case for planetary formation to help find out more about Earth’s formation. The Moon isn’t a really good case because it is highly depleted in refactory and volatile elements and thus had a history to different from Earths to be a good case.

Mars had more Earthlike history (although it never made it to plate tectonics). Venus would be better, but there are technical dificulties in studying it.

jimpy don’t sell the moon short. But back to the OP. Man has constantly sought out new frontiers and has push his way into every nook and cranny he can. If it wasn’t for this drive to explore our nation would not exist as we know.

The USA was a undoubted success made possible by having the room to try something different- and no matter what you think of the USA, the rest of the world benefits from our prosperity.

Now the earth has no more unexplored land (maybe under the sea) but that drive is still there. Mars seems the next logical choice.

The 1st Mars colony will draw resources from earth but as they learn to become self sufficient and grow they will develop their own way of doing things and because of the distance and vast differences involved they will become their own government(s).

Another thriving economy for humans can only benefit us in the long run.

Some other factors is that we are somewhat vonerable on earth to large scale catrosphies (comet, large asteroid, even global thermonuclear or bio warfare) could wipe out large %'s of humans either directly or through crop failure. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a friendly planet to deliver us shipments of Martian food products.

Also don’t forget that Mars missions are a lot “sexier” than most other projects NASA might do–public interest is very important to funding.

Anyone who thinks that’s going to happen is living on another planet.
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist it.

They are immeasurable, as know one knows for sure the technological spin-offs Mars exploration may bring about. Quite apart from that, advances in scientific knowledge are guaranteed and invaluable.

What’s ‘huge’? It may seem like a lot of money, but proportionally compared to spending in other areas they are very modest. A good source on this subject is:
It estimates the cost of putting a human on Mars as being in the range of 0.04% to 0.08% of U.S. GDP. Doesn’t sound so much now, does it?

But then I’m not a US tax-payer, so maybe it’s none of my business. :slight_smile:

There is no factual answer to your second and third questions. Very IMHO.

roflmao!!! That’s awesome, kdave!

Mars, presumably having had abundant liquid water at one point, is also a good place to look for other life. No, not LGM’s or BEM’s (Little Green Men or Bug Eyed Monsters) but rather humble bacteria or single celled organisms. Even those may be long gone by now but if it can be proven they once existed all sorts of very interesting things flow out of that.

Also, while people seem to be poking fun at k2dave you’d better hope he is right. I’m not suggesting we’ll see this in our lifetimes but sooner or later we’d better be able to get off our planet and check other places out. Mars is an excellent first step towards that goal.

Part of NASA’s mission is exploring space and objects in space. As has been pointed out, Mars is a very interesting object in space. Isn’t that a good enough reason to be “focused” on it? Would you ask why shipwreck enthusiasts are so “focused” on the Titanic?

Better asked, how is it a huge waste of money and resources? For one thing, contrary to the implication in Futile Gesture’s post, there is currently no program or plan in place to put humans on Mars.

The robotic probes that have been sent in the last few years cost on the order of $250-$500 million dollars. That’s million dollars, with an “m.” Compare that with hundreds of billions spent annually on corporate welfare. That’s billions, with a “b.”

Which do you think is money better spent?

As with all basic scientific research, Satasha, your questions concerning Mars are essentially unanswerable.

Fifty years ago, as the technology to launch a satellite into orbit became feasible, fiscally responsible people asked the same things about that enterprise. Can anyone today doubt that the technology is worthwhile, or that American dominance in the field is an important advantage both to our economy and our defense?

Most major technological breakthroughs emerge from basic research. It’s a legitimate function of the government to fund this exploration precisely because the exact benefits are unpredictable. Every NASA mission has involved the creation of new technologies. In terms of the economic boosts these technologies have given the US economy, the agency has paid for itself many times over.

There’s a great deal of national prestige attached to being the first to achieve an important milestone. The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union affected international relations far beyond either country’s borders.

Yet I gather from the OP that the bottom line interests you most. Let’s put it this way: there are almost certainly major economic and technological benefits to be gained from the exploration of Mars. Would you rather wait until China or the European Union discover them?

Hmmm? What?

:: looks around ::
OH, that Mars!