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One-Way Mars Missions?

Phot: NASA

Photo: NASA

Going to Mars is costly. The conventional thinking of round-trip missions is losing more and more ground to an idea made public last year. Theoretical physicist/cosmologist Paul Davies addressed the NASA Astrobiology Science Conference, and laid out a solid (and sometimes humorous) case for the One Way Ticket plan.

He points out the commercial angle, saying that not only would a patent trade emerge from discoveries, but televised coverage of the pioneers would be lucrative as well. And those pioneers? He says our planet is full of risk-takers seeking adventure that would fill the role nicely.

By comparison, a one-way trip to Mars would not be so risky. But it does need a spirit of adventure of the sort that the early explorers had, in particular the people who opened up Antarctica. These people often went knowing that there was a high probability that they would not come back, and that if they didn’t come back, they were going to their deaths. I’m not suggesting that going to Mars necessarily means an instant death, but it may mean a premature death, it may mean your life expectancy is shortened by a little bit. But as I said, people attempt that risk in all sorts of other walks of life.

And what I have in mind is not just four miserable people sitting around on the martian surface waiting to die, (laughter) but that they would actually be doing useful job work.

You wouldn’t be going there as tourists, you wouldn’t be going there for fun. You’d be going there to do science, and emailing all this stuff back. Your publication record would be sensational. (laughter) You would no doubt have all sort of honors heaped on you.

But you wouldn’t be coming home.

Link. Previously on Neatorama: Chart of Missions to Mars

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November 1st, 2009

Stranger to the World


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