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Mars Mission Back In the Cards After Budget Cuts

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the dependent-on-the-success-of-john-carter dept.

Mars 146

ananyo writes "NASA has said it will re-design its Mars exploration program, and that the new architecture would include input — and money — from the human program as well as the space technology division. Orlando Figueroa, the former deputy director for space and technology at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is to head up a seven or eight person committee, and to start developing mission concepts in the next month. One of those concepts would be a possible $700 million mission launching in 2018. The news offers a grain of comfort to a community still reeling from massive cuts to the Mars program."

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146 comments

700 million? (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188113)

A single shuttle launch costs that much, in today's dollars.

Seriously, guys?

Re:700 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188169)

It's completely outsourced to India and/or China

Barack Huseein Obama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188249)

Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure.

Re:Barack Huseein Obama (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188393)

Kind of like your typing?

Re:Barack Huseein Obama (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189183)

Please don't feed the trolls.

Re:Barack Huseein Obama (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189205)

Couldn't help myself with the ironic juxtaposition there.

Re:Barack Huseein Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189355)

That's like 10000 grooms, when all you need is a wife.

Re:700 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188191)

I thought they werent launching shuttles anymore...

Re:700 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188213)

So? Shuttle launches were expensive as hell. And now they can get out of our local gravity well by writing a check to SpaceX.

Re:700 million? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188403)

I find it very hard to believe that anyone is going to Mars (and presumably back) on the price of a single Shuttle launch. Private industry is generally more efficient, but not THAT much more efficient.

I Think Mission Goals Affect Cost (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188273)

A single shuttle launch costs that much, in today's dollars.

Seriously, guys?

I interpreted that as "the concept" referring to the Mars mission. So, yeah, I could see how $700 million would be a bit much to go into orbit, do some science lab experiments and land ... but when you're planning for Mars (especially manned which is what I thought they were talking about) I can understand a vast increase to your budget.

Re:700 million? (5, Informative)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188445)

I know that to RTFA is what nerdy reader types do, but if you had, you'd know the 700 million dollar mission is for an UNMANNED mission...

Re:700 million? (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190389)

You only budgeted $60,000 for a used car?

A single Bugatti Veyron is $2.4 million, in today's dollars.

Seriously, guys?

Re:700 million? (1)

SrLnclt (870345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191983)

You know we're sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?

700 million? Mars? I don't think so (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188165)

If they consider raising the figure by at least 2 orders of magnitude, and then they'll probably be getting close to what is necessary.

Seriously.... 700 million isn't a manned flight to mars, it's just an expensive coffin that will orbit earth for several decades at most before burning up on reentry into the atmosphere.

Re:700 million? Mars? I don't think so (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188305)

They're talking about an unmanned flight...

Get over it, geeks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188287)

The combination of nationalistic paranoia, cheap energy and a dead president are decades in the past. There is simply no compelling reason to put apes in tin cans for months at a time to go traipse around a dead, hostile rock floating in a radiation-blasted hell.

There is no real need, no perceived need, and absolutely nothing more than pictures can come of it. No one cares, we don't have the resources, and it will never happen. Ever.

Send more RC cars with cameras, get some pictures, the Space Nutter jizz will fly thick and fast.

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188315)

The combination of nationalistic paranoia, cheap energy and a dead president are decades in the past. There is simply no compelling reason to put apes in tin cans for months at a time to go traipse around a dead, hostile rock floating in a radiation-blasted hell.

There is no real need, no perceived need, and absolutely nothing more than pictures can come of it. No one cares, we don't have the resources, and it will never happen. Ever.

Send more RC cars with cameras, get some pictures, the Space Nutter jizz will fly thick and fast.

Soon as we find Oil on Mars, all bets are off.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188693)

I wonder what would happen if a large group of astronomers and exogeologists got together and lied about there being oil on Mars. The world would be sent into a frenzy, missions would be sent out there, and nothing would be found. But in the meantime, we've developed our space travel tech way beyond what we have now. Worth it?

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188845)

I wonder what would happen if a large group of astronomers and exogeologists got together and lied about there being oil on Mars. The world would be sent into a frenzy, missions would be sent out there, and nothing would be found. But in the meantime, we've developed our space travel tech way beyond what we have now. Worth it?

Oil is pretty inexpensive compared to some materials that can actually be found on Mars. It might even be possible to make a Mars mining mission break even but it doesn't matter, the initial investment is too big for anyone being interested in pursuing it.

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188971)

Not sure if I should guffaw at the oil jokes, or if I would get whooshed.

I guess the only way we could make gas prices exceed Obama levels would be if oil were being transported by interplanetary rocket ;)

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189047)

Hey the rocket would be powered by green renewable solar power! (except for the launch but that's a minor detail to Prius owners)

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189685)

You can power a rocket launch with green renewable solar power. Just plug a solar power plant into a gas extraction/processing plant that sucks in air and produces liquid oxygen and methane. Then you use the liquid oxygen and methane to fuel your rocket.

Re:Get over it, geeks (2)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189649)

Not that I think President Obama has been doing a particularly good job or that he's kept his campaign promises or anything like that, but I'm still astounded at the depths partisans will sink to in order to malign him. I mean, sticker shock at the pump is pretty harsh at the moment, but calling them "Obama levels" is disingenuous since they were this high, and higher, before he became President. It's sort of like when people blame the financial crisis on him and you're left sort of scratching your head. You can assume that those people just have short memories, but I remember people blaming him for the financial crisis within a week of him being elected (note: within a week of being elected, not within a week of taking office). That kind of magical thinking is just bizarre.

As for oil on Mars, importing it would be ridiculously expensive, but it could be useful as an in situ resource. It could be great for making rocket fuel for sending natural resources from Mars to Earth. If we could make everything (except maybe a few lightweight items like microchips) to manufacture rockets on Mars, then, from an Earth perspective, it actually would be financially viable to ship petroleum products to Earth from Mars. Of course, if the infrastructure on Mars ever gets that developed, then the resources would be more valuable in the local economy.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189957)

When you look at what he has to work with, he's done as good as anyone could, IMO. Most of those broken campaign promises are the result of Republicans filibustering, or just simply opposing any idea he has. If Obama came out in favor of the sun rising tomorrow, they'd be against it. Hell these people couldn't even be happy about killing Bin Laden, just because Obama was the one that gave the order.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190369)

Yeah, but some of the things that the President pretty much has absolute authority to do, as head of the armed forces, which he promised to do, he hasn't done.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190425)

I don't disagree. He has been on Team Bush far too much in that arena. When I look at the political landscape though, with the current crop of Republicans, he's the only person I can vote for. If I waited to vote for a perfect candidate, I'd never vote.

Re:Get over it, geeks (2, Interesting)

Feyshtey (1523799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188887)

But by God we can spend :
$120 million in retirement and disability benefits to federal employees who have died
$30 million to help Pakistani Mango farmers
$550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union
$10 million for a remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan
$764,825 to examine how college students use mobile devices for social networking.
$113,227 for a video game preservation center in New York
$765,828 to subsidize a “pancakes for yuppies” program in Washington, D.C.
$100,000 for a celebrity chef show in Indonesia
$175,587 for a study on the link between cocaine and the mating habits of quail
$606,000 for a study about online dating$17.80 Million in Foreign Aid to China – (Department of State & U.S. Agency for International Development)
The Super-Bridge to Nowhere – (Alaska) $15.3 Million

This is of course just a fraction of the stupidity.

Personally, I'd rather send an unmanned mission to Mars.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190305)

Hey, where can I get some of those pancakes?

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

Frenzied Apathy (2473340) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188935)

Soon as we find Oil on Mars, all bets are off.

Umm - oil requires fossils...
Fossils come from dead animals.

Just sayin' ...


[jeez]

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

fdrebin (846000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191347)

Umm - oil requires fossils... Fossils come from dead animals. Just sayin' ...

Actually, oil comes from dead plants.

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189185)

I thought new technology would obviate the need for oil? In any case, Mars could be filled with oil, there's no way at all to go get it. The US guzzles 20 million barrels a day, how can you hope to supply that from a planet that has absolutely NO infrastructure of ANY kind, and would require rethinking every single industrial process from the ground up?

Re:Get over it, geeks (4, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188563)

It's really difficult to put into words just how wrong you are. I realize you're probably just a drive by troll, but on the off chance you're really of that opinion I have to at least attempt to provide a counter point to your myopia.

Understanding the universe, stretching humanities legs, literally, out among the planets in our solar system and beyond represents a life and death pursuit for the human species. Eventually, Earth is going to be in existential peril, and if all our eggs are still in this basket over issues as petty and meaningless as politics, economics, or national pride, then we are well and truly, cosmically, fucked.

It's not possible to start this processes too early. We could detect a rogue asteroid or comet tomorrow that will end life on Earth. On a long enough time line this WILL happen. It's happened before, it'll happen again. When it does, your descendants will be thankful that we took a minute amount of money away from the budget for bombs, sugar water, and pornography, to put those first apes in tin cans and got them to Mars and back.

This is all presupposing you subscribe to the radical notion that a universe with humanity in it is in some way better than one without. As a human, I work from that assumption as a given. You may not, but even if that's so it's not too much to ask that you at least stand out of the way of those who do look that far into the future and can see the dangers and the possibilities that your small mind cannot.

We're talking about pennies here. Pennies now, so that humanity will still exist in one, ten, or a hundred centuries. There is no more important goal than space exploration, manned space exploration, and establishing a permanent human presence in space and on other words.

Re:Get over it, geeks (2)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189531)

On top of that, the extreme challenges we need to meet while doing this sort of thing pushes us further in science with new technologies developed to meet those challenges. How many things do we take for granted today because of problems met by the space flights of yesteryear? Imagine if everyone thought this sort of thing was pointless back then. Where would we be now?

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189573)

Probably shouldn't feed the trolls. Still, it is aggravating since a lot of people *do* feel that way, including some of the people who decided the budget. It's depressing, really, to think that so few people care about the bigger picture.

Plus, gosh darnit, I want my moon base!

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189647)

Why should humanity exist, and be allowed to spread through the galaxy?

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189833)

That's not really a question that can be answered, but nor does it need to be. Humans, all self-replicating life, wants to survive, both as individuals and collectively. And maybe the fact that we can even ask that question shows that there's something special about us. As far as we can tell we're the only matter in the universe that's self-aware. We have this ability to understand the world we've found ourselves in, and if the universe is finite as it appears to be then there is an end-state to understanding, a point where it's possible to know all there is to know. I'd like us to get there, even if it's eons after I'm dead.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189943)

We could detect a rogue asteroid or comet tomorrow that will end life on Earth. On a long enough time line this WILL happen. It's happened before, it'll happen again. When it does, your descendants will be thankful that we took a minute amount of money away from the budget for bombs, sugar water, and pornography, to put those first apes in tin cans and got them to Mars and back.

This is all presupposing you subscribe to the radical notion that a universe with humanity in it is in some way better than one without.

Dude, you're responding to Marvin. His diodes must be acting up again, and you know what he thinks about life.

Re:Get over it, geeks (4, Insightful)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190241)

Understanding the universe, stretching humanities legs, literally, out among the planets in our solar system and beyond represents a life and death pursuit for the human species. Earth is going to be in existential peril, and if all our eggs are still in this basket over issues as petty and meaningless as politics, economics, or national pride, then we are well and truly, cosmically, fucked.

Soon, you'll die. Sometime soon, I will die. Sometime later our entire race (regardless of how you define it) will cease to exist as well. Perhaps they will evolve beyond what we might recognise as human. Perhaps some disaster will wipe them out. Perhaps they will last, in some form, until the universe dies. In any case, we, as individuals and as a species are irrevocably mortal and I, for one, welcome that - I welcome our deathly overlord. One day we'll be gone and all that will be left is our achievements and successes - and our failures. I am perfectly content to leave a legacy of good deeds and live my life with integrity, even if no-one ever acknowledges that.

It's not possible to start this processes too early. We could detect a rogue asteroid or comet tomorrow that will end life on Earth. On a long enough time line this WILL happen. It's happened before, it'll happen again.

Notably, when it happened before, the Earth was left far more habitable than Mars is now. Were an asteroid to strike the Earth, you would be better off on the Earth than on Mars. For example, on Mars, the radiation is so bad, that to survive for any length of time, you need to live underground. The gravity is wrong, so much so, that within a generation, Martians would not survive on Earth, were they to travel there. So if we lost the Earth,with it's 7 billion inhabitants, we would be stuck on Mars. Forever. Living like termites underground, never able to go to the surface and look, with our unprotected eyes, on the stars. And when the Earth recovers, with it's benison of life once again covering it's surface, we will be gone - either staring back at earth, helpless with rage, or mercifully extinct.

Alternatively of course we could build those underground cities here on Earth, saving millions, if not billions, in the event of an asteroid strike, as opposed to the thousands that could - briefly - survive on Mars. If life on Earth is difficult afterward, then as a planet it is far easier to geo engineer than Mars, what with the handy features that have sustained life through multiple asteroid strikes before. To propose a plan which would save thousands, and rejecting a plan that saves millions (if not billions) amounts to proposing genocide on a scale never before comprehended.

When it does, your descendants will be thankful that we took a minute amount of money away from the budget for bombs, sugar water, and pornography, to put those first apes in tin cans and got them to Mars and back.

Not, they won't, and neither will your descendants. Because they won't be there. And neither will the descendants of the vast majority of the human race, with it's diverse cultures, ideals and dreams. Mars is just too small to capture a representative sample of us. Under your plan, your descendants will die, and so will mine.

Re:Get over it, geeks (0)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190949)

I reject the notion that we are, as a species, mortal. More accurately, I don't accept that the twilight of Mankind must occur. Though individuals must die, the human super-organism, as humanity can be likened to, absolutely can transcend death indefinitely if we are careful, plan ahead, and master ourselves.

Mars is a great training ground and testbed for a lot of technology we'll need to develop and perfect. It's not meant to be a "second Earth" but activity there has its place in the larger goal of permanent human habitation off of this planet.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188673)

There are perfectly good, rational long term reasons for humans to colonize Mars, such as not keeping all our eggs on one planet etc. But yeah, there is the right way to do it (low cost missions,building an unmanned base, private industry involvement, initially through competitions and grants, later through land deeds, leading to space tourism that may decades from now become economical) and the wrong way (throwing billions at NASA to send first human on Mars for reasons of bogus science and national prestige).

Re:Get over it, geeks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189035)

No one cares, we don't have the resources, and it will never happen. Ever.

Send more RC cars with cameras, get some pictures, the Space Nutter jizz will fly thick and fast.

The US has all the resources it needs to plan a manned mission to mars. The problem is not money, the problem is that trillions of dollars are spent on useless wars, that is money down the drain. The money that is spent on keeping alive a cast of criminals, those in wall street that would have collpase the entire american economy had the federal government not intervened.
Fix those 2 problems and you can go to mars and back with money to spare.

Re:Get over it, geeks (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189197)

ah, there you are my little space troll...right on queue.

Give it a rest (4, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188297)

Until we have an established moon base, we shouldn't even attempt Mars.
Consider:

  • Gravity is similar.
  • Atmosphere is similar (0 vs 0.006bar)
  • Radiation exposure is similar

So just shine an orange light on the moon and call it Mars.
The moon is better anyway

  • Closer, safer, cheaper
  • We could actually mine the moon for trace elements

Re:Give it a rest (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188475)

I completely disagree.

Mars has the natural resources to be self-sustaining- the moon would always need regular supplies from earth. Mars has over a third the surface gravity of earth - this is pretty significant compared to the moon. It means getting to the surface requires different techniques. The fact that Mars HAS an atmosphere is significant. Mars has WATER. There is more commercially available that would be usefull on Mars than the moon.

Mars and the moon are very different and require different approaches to get there. Going to the moon doesn't really help the different challenges going to mars- and indeed has different challenges.

The fact that Mars could be self-sustaining, provide exports to earth (one day), has not been explored by man yet (and unliket the moon would require a base) - it is waaaaay more geologically interesting that the moon.

The moon would be an expensive and not very usefull side show. Go straight to Mars!!!!!

Re:Give it a rest (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188587)

Oh- and a permenent moonbase would cost more because it would require frequent supply trips. Marsbase wouldn't necessarily.

Re:Give it a rest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188929)

Isn't the Moon supposed to be a broken fragment of a premature Earth?

If so, shouldn't the Moon be elementally similar to Earth?

CAPTCHA: quizzing

Re:Give it a rest (4, Interesting)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188979)

The big problem with learning how to run a planetary base at Mars is the minimum 6 month trip if something goes wrong.

The moon is two days away and doesn't have a return window only at certain parts of the planetary orbits.

So either abandoning it for safety reasons, medivac, or sending up emergency supplies/repair parts, etc is much quicker on the moon.

But, this argument has been gone through many times. Most often with needlessly heated rhetoric on both sides.

Though I'm more for a return to the moon, the answer that I'd be delighted with is: Do either of them, but actually DO IT.

Don't make grand political statements, and then stretch out the program with anemic funding and mismanagement until it gets shut down. We've all seen that way too many times.

Re:Give it a rest (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189245)

I agree with the "DO IT" statement.

Personally, I think Mars offers way more than the moon- but if we go back to the moon it would be a good thing (it just wouldn't necessarily help us much if the end goal were Mars).

Also, fully understand the concept that going to mars, at least initially- probably means you're there for the long haul. It would take a special person to sign up for such a trip- but I have no doubt NASA would get no shortage of qualified volunteers. Certainly- understanding from a medical standpoint what that means- and that certain treatments would not be available would be part of the mindset going to Mars.

In reality- it would be more than two days to the moon. To mobilise everything and be prepared for a launch would probably take more time than that. But certainly- any astronaut sent to the moon would most likely one day return. Going to mars would probably mean you stay there- probably mean a shortened life expectancy.

I still think mars offers more- but to the early pioneers they would be giving up so much more for the sake of progress- and for those that followed.

Re:Give it a rest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189969)

The big problem with learning how to run a planetary base at Mars is the minimum 6 month trip if something goes wrong.

Six months to anywhere is too far. Practical colonisation of space requires that the round trip journey take no more than a day. For Mars this means a ship capable of constant acceleration at about 100g. Direct the effort to designing a ship with that specification first and the barriers to cheap space travel will disappear.

Anyone who thinks this approach wistful science fiction should reflect that it is just over a hundred years since powered flight at Kittyhawk. I have enough confidence in human ingenuity to believe that the requisite technologies will be developed when the current conceptions behind spacecraft design (ie the limitations imposed by chemical rocket technology) are abandoned and the problem viewed from a fresh perspective.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

Denogh (2024280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190671)

Six months to anywhere is too far.

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. We should have waited until air travel was practical before settling the Oregon Territory. Certainly, 4-7 months was way too long to travel.

Of course, I acknowledge that the comparison is far from perfect. It wasn't in low/zero gravity conditions for 7 months, but I think the point still holds. In the early days of settling a new frontier one can expect a long trip getting there. That can be made a bit better with artificial gravity technologies (see the Nautilus-X [wikipedia.org] design that will never be built), but it's still going to be rough.

Unpleasant? Definitely!
Worth it? I think so. It expands our knowledge, inspires our young, and drives innovation.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190785)

Six months to anywhere is too far. Practical colonisation of space requires that the round trip journey take no more than a day.

The *Mayflower* left England on September 6, 1620 and reached Massachusetts Bay on November 11, 1620. Rounding to the nearest day, the journey took 66 days. Actually, *two* ships started this voyage on August 5, but were forced to turn back. A second aborted attempt was made later that month. Only the third trip was "successful", with the colonists packed onto a single, tiny cargo ship.

It was another 130 days before the colonists were able to live on land, which if added to the 66 day voyage coincidentally works out to be about six months aboard the ship. During that time 49 of the 102 colonists died -- a 48% death rate which by modern standards would be an inconceivable disaster, but which by 17th C standards was a test of will.

The willingness to suffer so much and face such hardships was a great asset in the colonization of the New World. If we valued life and comfort so little, no doubt Mars colonization would be a much cheaper, more practical thing. Of course there won't be natives there to teach us how to survive or perhaps more importantly, trade valuable commodities with us. Even if there were, then mass-limited economics of space travel are such that the only thing worth trading across interplanetary distances is information.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190089)

Yes, but if you accept the fact that rescue missions will be impossible anyway, then it's a non-issue. Pretty much every astronaut who has ever gone up has accepted that fact. Even the astronauts on the ISS, in LEO have no realistic chance of rescue if something goes wrong and their escape Soyuz craft is unusable for some reason. No-one has a rescue rocket standing by to save them. Unless there happened to be a resupply mission coinciding with the disaster, they'd have to be able to wait months for rescue. On the moon? Forget it. So, for the time being, "abandoning it for safety reasons, medivac, or sending up emergency supplies/repair parts, etc" is no more viable a prospect on the moon than it is on Mars.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189755)

Ok, I'l bite. Why would mars be self-sustaining?

You say Mars has 1/3 the gravity of earth, the moon as 1/6th so that's half. Not a huge difference once you're considering gravity.
The moon as water as well. With that, you're back into the situation where the moon is better.

At either location an air leak is catastrophic. It will take a very long time to recover from an air leak on mars, and what you replace it with will be mostly carbon dioxide which will need to be converted to oxegen by plants. Speaking of plants, where do they get their light from? The moon gets way more light and because it doesn't have dust storms your solar panel array won't ever be damaged or dirtied.

Finally any catastrophic scenario is mitigated by a 2-day journey home, not a 6-month one.

Re:Give it a rest (0)

john83 (923470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188643)

The atmospheric pressure on Mars is quite variable, from 0.0044 bar to 1.15 bar [wikipedia.org] (if it sea like ours, one entire hemisphere would be under water). The figure you've quoted seems to be from around as high as you can go. The other end of the scale is around earth normal or even a bit higher. Temperatures are also more hospitable. Also, Lunar dust gets everywhere. There is no simple answer here.

Re:Give it a rest (5, Informative)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189115)

The figure you've quoted seems to be from around as high as you can go. The other end of the scale is around earth normal or even a bit higher

Wait wait wait....what?

The max pressure on Mars is (according to wikipedia):
1,155 pascals (0.1675 psi) in the depths of Hellas Planitia

The average pressure at sea level on Earth is:
101.3 kilopascals (14.69 psi)

So Earth's average pressure at sea level is 87x that of the max on Mars...heck, at the top of Mount Everest, the pressure is about 4.90 psi, which is still 29x that of the max on Mars.

You need a pressure suit. Full stop.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188691)

Hell no. Mars has the ingredients to make your own food. Mars has the ingredients to make your own rocket fuel. Mars has the ingredients to make your own rockets. Mars has an amazing geological history. Mars has weather. Mars has ice caps. Mars tells us something about Earth's past. Going to Mars would be a new achievement.

The moon is unbelievably boring, and has nothing worthwhile to offer.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189375)

The moon is unbelievably boring, and has nothing worthwhile to offer.

Except that the Moon has a lot of valuable material and close proximity to the most valuable real estate in the Solar System. Also, without an atmosphere, a smaller gravity well, and that close proximity, it's a lot easier to move materials to Earth and Earth orbit from the Moon than anywhere other than near Earth asteroids.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189709)

Except that the Moon has a lot of valuable material and close proximity to the most valuable real estate in the Solar System. Also, without an atmosphere, a smaller gravity well, and that close proximity, it's a lot easier to move materials to Earth and Earth orbit from the Moon than anywhere other than near Earth asteroids.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. To make a round trip to the Moon, you need to burn fuel to get there, burn fuel to slow down and land, burn fuel to launch back. You don't need to burn fuel to land on Earth, because you can use atmospheric drag to slow down.

Mars has an atmosphere, where the moon does not. So you don't have to bring fuel to land: you can just aerobrake. And as with all rocket voyages, this has exponential leverage: when you launch less fuel, you don't have to launch the fuel to launch the fuel to launch the fuel to ....

If you get extra clever, you can make rocket fuel out of Mars's atmosphere, saving even more fuel, with even stronger exponential leverage. You can't do that on the Moon, unless you use a rocket whose exhaust is sand. (Seriously, it's been considered.)

From a fuel and energy perspective, because Mars has an atmosphere, it's *closer* to the Earth than the moon. Robert Zubrin said it best: "even if the Moon had tanks full of rocket fuel sitting on the surface waiting for us, it wouldn't be worth it to land and pick them up."

The Moon is boring, and the Moon is a trap.

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Mars-Plan-Settle-Planet/dp/145160811X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330464576&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

Re:Give it a rest (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190555)

No, you cannot 'just aerobrake' on Mars. The atmosphere is way way too thin. They can't even land a decent size probe with aerobraking, let along a human carrying vehicle.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191355)

That's odd, every spacecraft mission to Mars has had a heat shield and a parachute. Are they just for show?

Mars missions use heat shields and parachutes to slow the spacecraft down from 5,000 m/s to 100 m/s. You do need airbags, retrorockets, or whatever to slow down the last 2% to a stop, but 98% of the job is done by the atmosphere.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191343)

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. To make a round trip to the Moon, you need to burn fuel to get there, burn fuel to slow down and land, burn fuel to launch back. You don't need to burn fuel to land on Earth, because you can use atmospheric drag to slow down.

Sure, that's true. So what? I'm speaking specifically of moving things from the Moon to Earth or Earth orbit. That's why I didn't even hint at the relative difficulty of landing stuff on the Moon.

If you get extra clever, you can make rocket fuel out of Mars's atmosphere, saving even more fuel, with even stronger exponential leverage. You can't do that on the Moon, unless you use a rocket whose exhaust is sand. (Seriously, it's been considered.)

You mean like a LOX/Aluminum hybrid motor? Can't disagree there. Not great ISP, but it doesn't need to be. It's worth noting that escape velocity on the Moon is so low that even some modern rifles can achieve escape velocity. There's a lot of launch systems and launch infrastructure, such as magnetic rail launch, space tethers, compressed gas launch, etc that don't work very well in atmosphere and higher gravity wells, but do work just fine on the Moon.

Zubrin is right that it is about as hard to land on the Moon as it is to land on Mars, due to the absence of an atmosphere. But the reverse trip is far easier for the Moon than all but a few bodies in the Solar System.

The Moon is boring, and the Moon is a trap.

Zubrin's point in making this argument is that he was running into a lot of people who'd say "Before we can go to Mars, we need to do X." Sometimes it was frivolous or unrealistic, like world peace or removing Bad from humanity.

But apparently a common objection was the "Moon is a stepping stone to Mars" claim. For some reason, a number of people thought we needed to go to the Moon in order to go to Mars. Maybe it's the first exit on the highway or something? That's the trap of which Zubrin spoke.

The issue here is economic. On Mars, it'll probably take a growing, breeding human population on Mars before there will be a credible economy. While the Moon and its resources can be integrated into Earth's economy relatively easy, without even a single person living on it.

Re:Give it a rest (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191609)

I think we have different goals. I'm interested in exploration: you're trying to find a planet that pays cash money. So you care only about planet -> earth fuel costs, whereas I'm interested in round trips. I agree that the Moon is a bit cheaper on your terms -- but only if you can make a successful aluminum+oxygen rocket without sandblasting your rocket nozzle into scrap metal.

But I'd argue that even if your goal is only rare mineral mining, Mars may come out ahead. On Earth, the average crustal abundance of these metals is way too low to mine profitably: you have to find areas where they've been concentrated into ore deposits. This typically happens when you've got groundwater interacting with geothermal heat. Mars has had a lot of that kind of thing: the Moon has not. Hell, you might even be able to do placer mining on Mars's river valleys.

Life (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189523)

The Moon doesn't have it, never did.

Mars might've had it, still might.

Eventually, it will (probably?) be easier to terraform Mars than the Moon. Then Mars will truly be a place we can LIVE ON (you know, without space helmets and everything).

Re:Give it a rest (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189981)

What, are you crazy?

The gravity on the moon is half what it is on Mars. Mars has an atmosphere suitable for aerobraking and that actually provides a fair amount of radiation protection. It also may allow for lighter than air survey craft. The atmosphere also protects against micrometeorites, unlike the total vacuum of the moon. The atmosphere can also be processed to make methane and oxygen. Mars has a lot more water than the moon. It also has significant amounts of percholarates. The day is only fractionally longer than than that of Earth, making solar power practical, unlike the month long day on the moon.

Actual pluses for the moon include the fact that it has higher insolation than Mars, being closer to the sun. Of course, the month-long night kid of ruins that. The moon also requires marginally less power to reach than Mars, but since it takes less power to land on Mars since you can aerobrake, that's not really a factor. It matters when you're trying to lift off again, of course. You do need to spend longer in transit to Mars than to the moon, which increases the radiation exposure of the astronauts (though to perfectly acceptable levels with the right precautions). Don't give me the nonsense about the effects of isolation driving the astronauts crazy though. Pretty much every study ever done on it, along with the real world experience of the various space stations we've put up have put that one to bed.

Overall, Mars wins. It has much better prospects than the moon for the long term survival of a colony. People used to say that we should perfect colonizing the moon first, then move on to Mars, but Mars, despite not being closer, is safer and cheaper (marginally, but the more readily usable in situ resources take the win).

One way Mars mission (4, Interesting)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188335)

One way I've read several times to cut the cost of a human Mars mission is to make it a one-way mission.

Take away the expectation of returning- you save a bunch of costs associated with returning. Naturally- not everyone would want a one-way ticket to mars but there are lots of people who would.

Naturally, the technicality is you have to find some way to make them able to live there long term. Mars has lots of natural resources and tecnically could be self-supporting- but this could be complicated.

Those first people who go would have the mission of making the planet ready for the next wave of scientists. I think we should set our sites on a one way mission rather than bite off more than we can chew with our first mission to mars.

Re:One way Mars mission (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188491)

I believe the fiat is that we first have to get several unmanned stations with some drones that are a bit more advanced than our previous ones. We need drones that can actually build a station, as well as do a ton more surveying of the planet to find out where the most efficient locations to set up would be.

Re:One way Mars mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188507)

I'd sign up, just for the chance to get off the rock called Earth where millions of people have already boldly gone before. Going to Mars may be a death sentence but it'd be a nice peaceful place to be in my final years given the alternative is Earth where greed, corruption, and a general messing up of the planet is taking place in full swing. Best part about me going is I have almost no family left, not like anyone would really miss me.

Re:One way Mars mission (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190269)

Well, it seems likely that Martian colonists can supply their own water and breathing air on Mars. Oxygen can be extracted straight from the trace amounts in the atmosphere or broken down from CO2, or extracted from perchlorates. Water can be extracted directly from the ground in many places. If they can do that, they can get by on less than a ton of dried supplies per year. A lifetime of supplies for one astronaut still make up a lot of weight (a Saturn V could only get about 40 tons of supplies to Mars), but they could be landed without landing craft. All it would take would be chutes and maybe an airbag. So, growing food on Mars doesn't have to be done right off the bat.

Maybe better to read first, comment second (5, Informative)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188345)

Here;

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/pss/ [usra.edu]

you can read the report from the Plantary Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council, to the Science Committee.

It'd be awesome if /. posters read any of this before posting snide/uninformed/trolly comments about NASA, Obama, Space-X, budgets, etc.

The blog Future Planetary Exploration rounds up reporting on this subject;
http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2012/02/ruckus.html [blogspot.com]

Cancel NASA - Give the 1% a tax break! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188371)

Trickle down economics!
Free market!
Abolish minimum wage!
Tea Party!
Vote Ron Paul!

plenty of locations for half-billion$ rovers (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188375)

You build 5 or 10 and the price goes down. Just wont be able to do the big sample-return missions which would cost 10x-20x as much. The mostly recent sample-return mission was actually a triple mission: a land-rover, a lander-with orbital rocket, an orbital retriever. Keeps Mars program alive for another couple decades.

Finally build a Mark I plantary probe (4, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188397)

Stop building a brand new probe each time you want you carry a new instrument to Mars, Venus or some asteroid. Just make a design that fits most needs and build a dozen of them. Launch four at a time or a dozen to cut down on launch costs. Smaller probes like Hayabusa or Smart-1 are quite effective and light enough that you could easily put a dozen of them into space using a single Delta IV or Ariane 5 launch. Even the mars rovers like Spirit and Opportunity wouldn't need a dedicated Delta II launch each, four or five could be launched at a time. Sure, instrument choice will be limited, but so will be the price and effort of building it and sending it to space.

Re:Finally build a Mark I plantary probe (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188685)

Most of the probes are very situation specific. The Venus lander had to be built to tolerate the extreme temperature and acidity, for a few minutes before it died. Comet interceptors have to be fairly specific because the makeup of different comets allows different ways of trying to gather samples. A Mars lander will only be useful to land on Earth, our moon, Mars potentially Deimos and Phobos, or a similar band planet in a distant solar system.

To make the solutions even more complex, most of the new probes are designed to find answers to specific questions that astronomers didn't have until looking at everything sent back by the previous probes.
For one hypothetical, we could send a dozen rock spectronomy rovers to Mars, but once someone asks a question about submarsian geological structures, it requires a new lander design to support the deep ground-penetrating sonar and collectors.

Maybe, eventually, we'll have a sensor suite that can answer every question about a planet and it's time for mass production, but now we are still short of what the full list of user requirements would be.

Re:Finally build a Mark I plantary probe (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190937)

I must apologize, but I have grown deeply cynical of such rationalizations over the years. NASA's unmanned program is more productive and useful than its manned program, but it's still very troubled and ineffective for the money burned.

Maybe, eventually, we'll have a sensor suite that can answer every question about a planet and it's time for mass production, but now we are still short of what the full list of user requirements would be.

That threshold was passed in the 60s for the Apollo program which in the mid 60s demonstrated effective use of multiple probes of the same type to explore the Moon in preparation for a manned landing (basically, 5 orbiters, 9 impactor missions, and 7 landers). What was different about that program than modern unmanned space exploration is that the probes filled a compelling need. It's not that surprising that Apollo is hard to justify then or now. But if you've decided to send people to the Moon, then you need to know what they're trying to land on.

The problem with modern probes is that the scientific output isn't significant. It's not all that different to us, if a rover (to Mars or elsewhere) produces half a decade of scientific output or a smoking crater.

For me, the Mars Exploration Rovers are a great modern example. They already have the sensor suite in a demonstrated, working system. Yet NASA abandoned that platform in favor of untested new systems.

For one hypothetical, we could send a dozen rock spectronomy rovers to Mars, but once someone asks a question about submarsian geological structures, it requires a new lander design to support the deep ground-penetrating sonar and collectors.

So why should we prioritize the question about submartian geological structures over a more comprehensive and more cost effective survey of the Martian surface? My view is that the current space science program (whether at NASA or elsewhere in the world) is great for optimizing R&D expenditures (and perhaps to a lesser extent for national prestige), but not for optimizing scientific output.

To give an example, NASA has spent considerable funds developing the Mars Science Laboratory. They could have with that same funding sent another half dozen or so MERs to Mars by now (that is, the vehicles could be operating on the surface for years by now), even improving some aspects of the MERs in the process (such as more precise landings, improving performance and reliability of the vehicles, mixing up what sensors are put on the vehicle, and so on).

Sure, some people would still be left wondering for a few more years about scientific questions that the MERs can't answer, but the MSL might be able to answer. But that seems a good tradeoff to me.

To echo my original cynicism, instead, NASA has in the MSL a vehicle which has already completed its primary mission, consuming over a billion and a half dollars of public funds. If it should fail before it produces any useful output, that just means more R&D funds will be available for the next big thing.

Re:Finally build a Mark I plantary probe (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191755)

These missions are also technology demonstrators, meant to advance the state of the art. Using the same design several times doesn't provide the same technological advancement as building upon previous work and enhancing it.

If you look at the Mars missions, each subsequent rover design sent was larger and more capable, and sent back much better science.

Re:Finally build a Mark I plantary probe (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191835)

These missions are also technology demonstrators, meant to advance the state of the art. Using the same design several times doesn't provide the same technological advancement as building upon previous work and enhancing it.

That's nice when the technology is subsequently used. Such is the case with some of the MSL technology, particularly the entry and landing systems which have been used in some form over several lander/rover missions. That technology probably will get reused in a sample return mission as well.

It's not so nice when the technology isn't reused, (which is more of a problem on the less effective manned side, such as every Shuttle replacement to date). I've run across a lot of old NASA technology that someone spent money to develop and then completely abandoned. Technology demonstration doesn't make sense, unless there is follow up on it.

spacenuttery tag? really? (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188415)

./ is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, these days.

Every single comment so far is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188449)

"Mars mission" does not refer to a manned mission you goddamn idiots. If you actually RTFA before banging your heads against the keyboards to produce idiocy, you'd find the mission in question is most likely going to be an obiter, not even a rover or lander..

Re:Every single comment so far is retarded (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188479)

They're too busy pretending they know more about this than the people at NASA, who are actually planning the mission.

What's not here: the outer planets (4, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188761)

What's not mentioned in the article is that the plan is to save Mars exploration by gutting outer planets research. If you wanted to know more about Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Europa, Io, Titan, Enceladus, Triton, the Kuiper belt, or anything else, forget it. Because of the long travel time, scrapping the projects currently being planned may mean you won't hear anything new about those places for decades.

Mars mission will have an impact on eyesight tech (3, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188771)

A recent discovery of long term space exploration is that being in low gravity for too long literally folds parts of your eye. Causing astronauts who spend too much time up in space to have permanent vision changes that leave them very far-sighted and required to wear reading glasses. Just six months in low gravity was enough for major changes in vision.

Imagine a missions to Mars that takes six months just one way? These astronauts would be blind under our current understanding of how space travel affects sight by the time that they came back.

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/20/nation/la-na-blind-nasa-astronaut-20110921 [latimes.com]

"What we are seeing is flattening of the globe, swelling of the optic nerve, a far-sighted shift, and choroidal folds," said Dr. C. Robert Gibson, one of authors of the study published in the October 2011 issue of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "We think it is intracranial pressure related, but we're not sure; it could also be due to an increase in pressure along the optic nerve itself or some kind of localized change to the back of the eyeball."

The study identified new risks for those who live in space for at least six months. Blurred vision was the primary issue reported by the seven astronaut test subjects.

"After a few weeks aboard the [station]," said Astronaut Bob Thirsk, a Canadian Space Agency physician who spent six months as a member of the Expedition 20 and 21 crews in 2007, "I noticed that my visual acuity had changed. My distant vision was not too bad, but I found that it was more difficult to read procedures. I also had trouble manually focusing cameras, so I would ask a crewmate to verify my focus setting on critical experiments."

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Astronaut_Vision.html [nasa.gov]

The way I see it is that there are two options. The first one is we only send replicants to Mars or more unmanned flights. The other is that NASA gets some awesome new understanding of vision loss or develops technology to overcome vision loss. Either way this would be quite the benefit for society if NASA can develop some new things to combat vision loss.

Re:Mars mission will have an impact on eyesight te (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39188969)

Manned missions are not on the list of near-term items...rtfa

Re:Mars mission will have an impact on eyesight te (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39188987)

Mars has 37% the gravity of earth- this may be enough to prevent these problems. As for the 6 month trip- cosmonauts have spent over a year in space before without going blind so your comment:

Imagine a missions to Mars that takes six months just one way? These astronauts would be blind under our current understanding of how space travel affects sight by the time that they came back.

Is... an exaggeration. They may have limited vision damage- yes. As well as other medical conditions both known and unknown.

Re:Mars mission will have an impact on eyesight te (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189469)

Or they could send myopics like me, and we would arrive on Mars with perfect distance vision! (Note to self: remember to pack reading glasses.)

Re:Mars mission will have an impact on eyesight te (1)

Wraithlyn (133796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191019)

...or they use artificial (ie rotational) gravity to sidestep the problem entirely.

If there ain't energy there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189073)

Why go?

naming space telescopes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189097)

Which is sexier, James Webb or Orlando Figueroa?

Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189239)

every year, and they have no money to do anything about it. A new plan each is meaningless when the president wants to take money away from scientific endeavors and dump money on civil servants in social programs.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189303)

Yeah ignore the defense budget and tax cuts on the top 1%. It's all about those civil servants and social programs.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189475)

It's harder to ignore the Trillions thrown at financial institutions that were "too big to fail".

But before that become a serious thought, he was already saying he wanted to make the switch I described.

FWIW, Defense is only about 25-30% of the entire budget, and it's a discretionary part of the budget (which means people have to justify spending it every year). Social programs (Social Security, Medicare, etc..etc..) are all block-allotments, there are no civil servants justifying those budgets in front of your representatives each year, forced to explain any federal waste or anything like that. That money is simply spent with no thought as to efficiency, every year.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189547)

Social Security isn't on the budget at all.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39189561)

Yeah ignore the defense budget and tax cuts on the top 1%. It's all about those civil servants and social programs.

Cut the entire defense budget, and guess what? The US still runs a deficit. War is cheap, it's old people that are expensive. They're getting more expensive every year, too.

Also, the tax cuts for the 1% "cost" a lot less than the middle class tax cut.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189619)

War is cheap if you're sitting on your ass bitching about taxes and not fighting in it.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189575)

Well, monetarily it is. We currently spend over 100% of federal revenue on social programs and retired civil servents - far, far more than the defense budget. NASA's budget is just a rounding error - there's no financial purpose to cutting it, it's just a political statement.

Re:Even Russia comes up with a new mars mission (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189655)

And you know what? It's money well spent. I'd rather see that cash going to social programs and "expensive old people", than more useless wars that accomplish nothing.

Corporate Sponsors (1, Interesting)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39189513)

Why not just use corporate sponsors. Apple alone could donate almost $1 Billion by just donating 1%of its cash reserves alone.

Re:Corporate Sponsors (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191763)

Don't corporations already do enough damage on this planet ?

Purely fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190695)

It's just some story by some guy (not finished yet), but I've enjoyed reading it

The Martian [galactanet.com]
:-Dave

Techies and Geeks Assemble!!! (1)

DontForgetYourPants (2497406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191803)

Why not open this thing up to public donations? I'm sure that I'm not the only one who would give money to see a person on Mars...
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