Does Mars really need earthlings?

A nice place to visit, but would you want to live there? 35 Canadians say yes to a one-way ride. Landscape composite taken by Mars Rover "Spirit" in 2007. Photo: NASA

A nice place to visit, but would you want to live there? 35 Canadians say yes to a one-way ride. Landscape composite taken by Mars Rover “Spirit” in 2007. Photo: NASA

The headline reads: “At least 35 Canadians have applied for one-way trip to Mars“. According to the Canadian Press “Mars One,” a $6-billion private project, hopes to get humans to Mars in 2023. The UK’s Guardian reports that close to 80,000 people world-wide have already paid the $75 fee and applied. (!)

Here’s more from the Mars One “about” page:

Mars One is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars through the integration of existing, readily available technologies from industry leaders world-wide. Mars One intends to fund this decade-long endeavor by involving the whole world as the audience of an interactive, televised broadcast of every aspect of this mission, from the astronaut selections and their preparations to the arrival on Mars and their lives on the Red Planet.

The Canadian Press article profiles some of the applicants and their motives and quotes space scientist Gordon Shepard, who is skeptical the ambitious time table of just 10 years is realistic.

Shepherd said anyone considering the trip has to answer some deeply personal questions: “What’s the meaning of life — what’s the meaning of my life?… That’s a tough one and I think they have to understand that fully before doing it.”

Good point! One that Canadian applicant Andrew Rader does seem to have considered:

“There are enormous risks. That being said, I think that the risks are worth taking. I mean, major leaps required major risks,” he said.

“Life is short, life is precious and that’s why you really should do major things that you believe in.”

And that’s exactly why I would draw the opposite conclusion: Don’t go! stay right here!

For me, a huge component of what makes life worth living is earth’s natural environment. Yes, I know the environment of space and other planets is also “natural.” They are undoubtably beautiful in their own ways.

But no way Jose would I ever voluntarily give up what we enjoy here on our wonderfully wet, blue-green marble. Even as I contemplate the explosion of dandelions that demand weeding, even as I realize the lawn won’t last a full week before it’ll need more mowing – especially as I tend the flowers and plant the vegetables – I know earth is the right planet for me, full stop.

The daring types who live for danger, eager to push toward new frontiers – they can have the rest of the universe.

As for humans setting up on other planets, I suppose some degree of success will come there, one day. But there’s nothing like comparison shopping to make our own planet look pretty special.

Would you want to try Mars? If it was a two-way trip (with a reasonable hope of returning) would that make it more attractive?

5 Responses to “Does Mars really need earthlings?”

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  1. tootightmike says:

    In the nineteenth century, People lived in prosperous places like Boston and Baltimore, or Charleston, or Montreal, and something made them give it up and move west to the God-forsaken deserts, the mind numbing plains, or the frigid mountains….for what?? It was a form of anti-social lunacy then, and it’s lunacy now, to leave what’s good and possible, and try against the odds to make something out of nothing. Hopefully the same bunch of crazies will be attracted to such a venture, and hopefully they’ll fail to return. Send extra applications to places like Las Vegas and Phoenix…tell them there might be water there…

  2. Hank says:

    What happens to someone who takes on this Mars mission, gets there and then needs major medical intervention for an infection, a stroke, an accident?

    Also, imagine getting there and finding out the signal of none of the NPR stations is strong enough to reach Mars. Bummer!!

  3. tootightmike says:

    Yes, what happens… They had better take shovels.

  4. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I shall start making a list of people for whom I shall submit applications. $75 is reasonable.

  5. Lucy Martin says:

    It’s Still All Bush’s Fault:

    I never thought of that, but you’re right!
    Such a deal!