31
   

Should NASA go to Mars or back to the Moon?

 
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 06:29 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

I think the fear of a world ending calamity are vastly overblown. Yes, the Earth has been hit before and a world ending hit maybe occurs every 600 million years. That means in the next million our chances of being hit are very small and we'll have probably killed ourselves off by then. Still, build a kinetic energy meteor deflector if you want. While you are at it, found a colony in the middle of the Mohave Desert so that you will be safe from germs and terrorist nuclear weapons.


I don't want to build a meteor (asteroid) deflector. I don't want a colony in the middle of the desert. I would rather have a single solution which protects humanity's future existence from both of these things and a huge number of other factors.

You state that we could 'kill ourselves off' before it happens again; I agree. The chances of this happening are much larger then of a meteor hitting us. This is all the more reason to found an independent colony that cannot be killed off by events on the Earth.

Quote:
But while we're waiting for the comet to end the world, let's work on things to make the quality of life for the humans that are here better. Give me a cure for cancer over a Moon base any day. I respect your favoring the Moon base, but I can't see buying a tremendously expensive insurance policy for such a remote risk when there are there are so many better things to spend the money on.


I'm going to be perfectly honest here: when compared to the overall survival of the species, the individual quality of life is not significant. If there is no more humanity, there is no more quality of human life!

I would also point out that the benefits of having a base in space, in terms of both research and commercial benefits, are tremendous - so much so as to once again redefine what humanity's true wealth is. It's erroneous to refer to independent colonies simply as 'insurance policies.'

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 08:08 pm
@ehBeth,
Do you really think humans have any particular value in the universe?

Lord I do not care one little bit if the universe or a god or gods of the universe care or does not care or value humans.

We so far had survive all threats even if there had already been a near thing where by DNA study we had already gone through a choke point where we had been reduce to a very small band.

In any case we have far too many things to learn and understand to allow our end before time itself ends in my opinion.

0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 08:16 pm
@ehBeth,
LOL being an atheist a religious reason does not apply to me however this universe for me had been a very interesting place to study and try to understand and I would be happy to have humans or descents of humans trying to understand every details for another few billions years.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  2  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 08:24 pm
I only read the first page and skimmed it at that. This is NASA, what makes anyone think they can't do two things at once? They can continue the space station AND plan new types of missions. The space station - just building it has been educational. Think of it as a first step. If we can build it here, we can build one elsewhere.

The second activity for NASA? I think we should get more involved with getting and keeping humans in space. But, again, I like the small steps. I think building a manned station on the moon would be less beneficial for learning about the moon than it would be for learning how to get and keep humans safely off earth. The latter having the more important educational value, in my opinion.

I think there is still plenty of scientific data to be gotten from Mars with unmanned landers and orbiting devices. I think we should do that while we build our manned flight skills nearer to home.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 08:31 pm
I think one thing people miss all the time is the basic utility of the moon as a base, even if the object is to "mine" the asteroid belt. Bring the resources back to the moon, where manufacture would be a great deal cheaper in microgravity or a very small fraction of earth gravity. Don't drop it into the mother well until it's a value-added product.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 08:52 pm
@Setanta,
Yes... being in reduced gravity means for easier access to near space. But, we still have fuel issues. Do we get fuel from the moon, or ship it from earth negating the benefits of a station on the moon?
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:21 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

And what are you going to do on your moon base, harvest Iron and Nickel? That's a lot cheaper here. Spend all your time collecting water? Lots of water here already. The real benefit of going to the Moon, Mars, etc is developing the technology to get there. I'm all for spending money on fundamental research, I just don't see what the actual trip, Moon base, etc is going to accomplish when we get there.

Strange that you can't see it, since you stated it in the previous sentence. "The real benefit of going to the Moon, Mars, etc is developing the technology to get there (and live there)." How simple do we have to make it for you?
engineer wrote:

If we had infinite resources, let's do it. We don't have infinite resources, so I'd rather solve earth bound problems. All those big visions of the human race among the stars is interesting, but ultimately just narcissistic.

It's a good thing Columbus didn't have to depend on you for financing.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:23 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

And do what? What do you want to do when you have your Moon base and you are desperately harvesting water (sure there is water on the Moon, but you have to go out and mine it and I doubt it is plentiful) and you can send rockets everywhere in the solar system (but it takes months to get somewhere one way)? What do you get for the risk of putting people on an airless rock bombared with solar radiation in gravity so low that it results in bone loss and circulatory issues over time?....

As stated previously, it's a stepping stone for man to develop the means to travel through space and live in space where his destiny lies. Watch "Star Trek" and you'll understand the reason to become a space faring species. It might take a long time to get to the stars, but not as long as if we don't try. You have no vision.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:29 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

BillRM wrote:

My god you think that the human race should just sit on earth until one event or another wipe us out.

Mankind will eventually be consigned to the dustbin of time, most likely long before a meteorite hits the Earth. You can rage at that eventual fate and futilely throw lives and resources at it, but it's not going to change. The nearest habitable planet to Earth is so far away it hasn't been discovered and once it is, the time it takes to send a ship there would be more than the human race has left....

Not necessarily. As you know, if we went to Alpha Centauri at 99% the speed of light, it would take 4.3 years from the point of view of Earth bound observers, but 31 days from the viewpoint of the travelers.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:30 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

BillRM wrote:

Hell, you are no engineer of any kind and why you picked that title, I have no clue at all.

...But I'll make you a deal. Solve my fusion challenge, cure cancer, develope solar technology and get tea baggers to happily pay more taxes and I'll champion your underground moon base.

I'm sure this is approximately what you would have told Columbus. We'd still be waiting.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:32 am
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

Do you really think humans have any particular value in the universe?

It has always seemed an odd view to me. Seems like a bit of a romantic/religious fantasy.

They're of value to me.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:23 am
@Brandon9000,
Brandon9000 wrote:

engineer wrote:

And what are you going to do on your moon base, harvest Iron and Nickel? That's a lot cheaper here. Spend all your time collecting water? Lots of water here already. The real benefit of going to the Moon, Mars, etc is developing the technology to get there. I'm all for spending money on fundamental research, I just don't see what the actual trip, Moon base, etc is going to accomplish when we get there.

Strange that you can't see it, since you stated it in the previous sentence. "The real benefit of going to the Moon, Mars, etc is developing the technology to get there (and live there)." How simple do we have to make it for you?

So as I said, develop the technology by spending money on fundamental research and then don't go.
Brandon9000 wrote:
engineer wrote:

If we had infinite resources, let's do it. We don't have infinite resources, so I'd rather solve earth bound problems. All those big visions of the human race among the stars is interesting, but ultimately just narcissistic.

It's a good thing Columbus didn't have to depend on you for financing.

Columbus needed a paltry sum, used simple technologies and had rich benefactors. This program requires huge sums and must be funded by people who already don't pay their bills and think they should pay less.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:37 am
@Brandon9000,
Brandon9000 wrote:
Strange that you can't see it, since you stated it in the previous sentence. "The real benefit of going to the Moon, Mars, etc is developing the technology to get there (and live there)." How simple do we have to make it for you?

What's the difference between the technology for getting to Mars and the technology for getting to the moon? The only difference I see is inertia---and we've been knowing since Galileo how that works.

Of course, if you have humans on the spacecraft, you also need technology to keep them alive in space for 2-3 years. But technology for that is already driven by the space station. And, if something goes wrong on the space station, we have a fighting chance of keeping the humans alive.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  5  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:37 am
@Brandon9000,
Brandon9000 wrote:

As stated previously, it's a stepping stone for man to develop the means to travel through space and live in space where his destiny lies. Watch "Star Trek" and you'll understand the reason to become a space faring species. It might take a long time to get to the stars, but not as long as if we don't try. You have no vision.

Actually, I think Star Trek is the problem. I've seen several posts about destiny and realizing human potential. Nice sounding and all, but why wouldn't you realize human potential by freeing us from the shackles of disease or the limitations of expensive energy? Why does the dream have to be hurling humans into places where we can only dream of standing under the sun and feeling the breeze on our face. I've lived for months in a submarine and I know what it's like to wake up in an artificial environment day after day where you know that if the technology fails, your environment will casually kill you. At least when the O2 system exploded on my boat, we could surface and ventilate. Of course, you will argue that your Moon base will have numerous safeguards and artifical gravity and large spacious areas for recreation and state of the art medical facilities. Like Star Trek, right? I will argue that it will look like my submarine: functional, minimum creature comforts, everyone standing watch all the time making sure the equipment that keeps them alive is functioning and continuously practicing so that when it does fail, they can act quickly to save the station.

I have a vision, but it is a vision of cheap energy, instantaneous communications, freedom from preventable disease and universal education. That was in Star Trek too. Do that and going to space will be easy.
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:45 am
@Brandon9000,
Brandon9000 wrote:
I'm sure this is approximately what you would have told Columbus. We'd still be waiting.

... and the Mayas, Incas, and Azteks would still be living peoples, because their ancestors wouldn't have been killed by greedy Europeans and the germs they brought with them. If you want to talk about the consequences of Columbus, you need to talk about all of them. And when you do that, I doubt you will find that he was a net boon to mankind.
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:54 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

Actually, I think Star Trek is the problem.


This made me laugh but I think it's an excellent observation.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 07:00 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
Actually, I think Star Trek is the problem.

I think you're dead-on. Indeed, it's much broader than that: Pretty much all Sci-Fi TV is the problem. Because reality in space is weird and complicated, producers take massive shortcuts with the "science" part of science fiction. (Hugo-winning Sci-Fi literature is much better about it.) But because it's TV and the images look so real, viewers think they know what spaceships would look like. They don't.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 07:08 am
@littlek,
littlek wrote:
Yes... being in reduced gravity means for easier access to near space. But, we still have fuel issues. Do we get fuel from the moon, or ship it from earth negating the benfits of a station on the moon?

Uranium and Plutonium? They're as likely to be found on the moon as they are on Earth. And I think I've seen pretty realistic descriptions of nuclear-powered rockets in my father's 1950s science-fiction magazines. That said, Uranium mines on the Moon is another one of those topics that cries "more machines in space", not "more humans in space".
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 07:14 am
@Thomas,
Yep.

I'm all for robots/machines in space, I think that's very cool. Compared to putting humans in space there are way more positives, way fewer negatives, and generally more bang for the buck.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 10:08 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
Actually, I think Star Trek is the problem.

On a slight tangent to this, it appears to me that this problem is confined to Science Fiction on TV and in movies. Good science fiction books have largely moved on from manned spaceflight as a serious topic, if "good" is measured by the field's best-known awards, Hugo and Nebula.

Going through the last ten years of Hugo-winning novels, and ignoring the fantasy genre, I am left with four science fiction books. Only one of them features space travel feature prominently (Vernor Vinge: A Deepness in the Sky). One other mentions it in passing (Robert Charles Wilson: Spin). But this book is mainly about accelerated time: What would the world would look like if time was sped up enough that we could live to see the end of the universe? But that's it. Although Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End is about technical progress on Earth, it envisions that most of it will happen in computer gaming, virtual reality, telecommunications, and medicine. Finally, Robert J. Sawyer's Hominids is about the evolution of humanity and its ethical implications. Spaceships would definitely be irrelevant to its plot.

I could go through the Nebula winners, too, but you get the picture. Even by the tastes reflected in Science Fiction literature, space travel has become somewhat retro. The exciting topics for speculative fiction now lie somewhere else. It's time for public opinion to catch up, and for American presidents to stop wasting taxpayer money on Flash Gordon fantasies.
 

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