Great achievement for American know how and ability. However, aside from satisfying mans insatiable need to know what benefits can be realized that would justify the gazilions of dollars spent on projects such as these? Considering the problems that are faced by people on the planet we inhabit on a daily basis couldn''t the funds have been better spent. In any event what could possibly be so important in knowing whether Mars had ever supported life?
If Queen Isabella of Spain had refrained from financing Columbus's voyage until all serious problems, such as poverty, were eliminated in Spain, then it would still to this day not be possible to finance him. They say that human beings evolved on the veldt in Africa. Perhaps some caveman in those days, who wanted to see what was over the next hill, could have been told, "What folly! Your time would be better spent in trying to pick more berries. The people are hungry." However, in that case, the entire human race would still occupy one small region in Africa (since exploring the rest of the Earth was obviously a waste of time). One of the reasons for developing space technology is to get to the point where the human race can explore and colonize space (e.g. other solar systems) one day. It's a long, long way off, but if we don't start, we will never achieve it. The idea that with hundreds of billions of stars in this galaxy alone, many with planets, we should confine ourselves forever to this one little rock is incomprehensible to me. Also, if we were to find that life had once existed on Mars, it would imply that life may be common throughout the cosmos, since the evolution of life on two separate planets within our solar system would tend to support the idea that the development of life is not rare. Do we not care whether we are the only race of beings in the cosmos or whether there are other people out there that we can someday meet? Do we not want to know anything as abstract as the nature of the universe we live in?