[FPSPACE] Caves on Mars?
DSFPortree at aol.com
DSFPortree at aol.com
Tue Mar 20 11:13:10 EST 2007
Why put an asteroid defense system at the bottom of the lunar gravity well,
far from anyone who could keep it up and running? And, given that the threat
is not enormous, why do we need to establish some kind of dedicated asteroid
deflection base in the first place? What we need is to be able to detect and
deflect - that doesn't necessarily imply anything much beyond what we have now.
Which former NASA Administrator said that? Dick Truly would be my guess, or
maybe James Fletcher in his first stint as Administrator. We all know how
clever NASA Administrators can be. The Mars missions we've seen this past decade
are widely supported.
The moon is less popular than Mars - that's patently obvious. Of course, I'm
talking about robotic exploration here. If you get into big-ticket human
exploration, no goal is popular. Fly a brave astronaut in a Mercury capsule on the
Fourth of July, and most folks would be completely satisfied.
What you're missing here is that no one sees space as worth much. If they
did, we'd never have left the moon in the first place. If we want to gain
support, we have to do it on the cheap and keep it dramatic so people stay
Humans return to moon - cheap? no. Dramatic? No - we've done it before.
Humans to Mars - cheap? Emphatically no. Dramatic - yes.
Humans to Phobos/Deimos partnered with Mars surface robots - cheap? No, but
not as expensive as a moon base. Dramatic? Yes, especially if tied to search
Robots on Mars - cheap? Yes. Dramatic? Yes, especially if tied to search for
Robots on the moon - cheap? Yes. Dramatic? No - we've done it before.
Humans demonstrate asteroid deflection - cheap? Not as cheap as letting a
robot do it, but that might not matter. People have been prepped by disaster
movies to expect a human in this particular loop. Dramatic? Yes.
Humans servicing space observatories - cheap? Yes. Dramatic? Depends on how
it is marketed. Could be tied to search for life.
Send a probe to another star - cheap? Emphatically no. Dramatic? Depends on
how it's marketed. A powerful first. Could be tied to search for life.
The kids I teach ask about the Mars rovers. They never ask about the moon or
the Space Station. They ask about the Space Shuttle accident on rare
occasions. Kids are important, because many parents have a vague notion that space is
"educational." Get to the kids and you stand a chance of getting to their
parents. Also, kids are the ones who'll be paying for space in not too many years.
Reality - be in it.
David S. F. Portree
author & educator
dsfportree at aol.com
Flagstaff Arizona USA
"It's like when you're a kid, the first time they tell you that the world's
turning and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's
standing still. I can feel it - the turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our
feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, the entire planet is hurtling
around the Sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're
falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little
world, and if we let go..." - The Ninth Doctor
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