Human Martians

The people who settle the Red Planet may not look like us.

To understand why genetic engineering is the only way humanity can conquer Mars and the rest of the solar system, consider what the current version of Homo sapiens will have to endure on a trip to the Red Planet. Any crew dispatched on the 18-to-30-month mission to Mars will face highly elevated risks of cancer, tissue degradation, bone density loss, brain damage, pharmaceutical spoilage, and other health threats. The journey outside Earth’s magnetic field will expose astronauts to solar flares and cosmic radiation at levels that have not been surveyed since the end of the Apollo missions (the longest of which lasted just 12 days). Arrival on Mars, a geologically inert body with one one-hundredth of Earth’s atmosphere and no shielding from solar radiation, will provide little relief and will probably introduce some secondary radiation risk from solar rays reflected off the Martian surface. 

While the worst radiation exposure and microgravity risks can be reduced through bulky shields and equipment, the expense of outfitting such a spaceship does not appear to be within the means of private industry. It is hard to justify spending all that money to investors, given Mars’ unattractiveness as a resource or destination. Our second-closest planetary neighbor features no life, no mineral value (the surface of the planet is basically rust), no organic chemistry, no temperate regions, no energy sources, and no canals. 

On the plus side, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Phoenix robot in 2008 did detect the presence of water molecules. Phoenix also took photos that hinted at the presence of ice below the surface of a planet so forbidding that liquid water evaporates immediately on the rare occasions when the temperature rises above freezing. 

That’s about as attractive as Mars gets. So why would anybody want to go there? 

They might not. Gregory Stock, CEO of My Mercury Risk, a firm that researches the role of genetics in vulnerability to environmental toxins, and an advocate of ambitious genetic experimentation, says rapid improvements in science and communication right here on Earth have made the “inner journey” a more interesting avenue of exploration while making travel to other places less compelling. “You can see what’s happened in terms of funding of space programs,” Stock says. “Moving out is not at the center of our sense of exploration, of excitement about the future.” 

As for the possibility of designing humans for long-term extraterrestrial living, Stock is skeptical. “If we get to the point of doing that kind of design work,” he says, “there are so many things that are far more interesting than making yourself radiation resistant so you can sit on Mars.” 

But the romance of sitting on Mars is pretty powerful. Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin (see “How Much Is an Astronaut’s Life

Worth?” page 28) tells me the radiation risk is “overdrawn” by NASA to dodge the exploratory imperative. Pointing to the long missions that have been conducted on Mir and the International Space Station (both within the planet’s magnetic field), Zubrin says a Martian round trip would not expose astronauts to much more solar radiation than they are already getting in low Earth orbit. And while he foresees a state-sponsored Mars project that would not hinge on turning a profit, he believes the value of Mars should not be measured in minerals. 

“The real profit of the New World didn’t come from a spice route to India, nor did it come from looting Aztec gold,” Zubrin says. “It came from a new society and a new branch of humanity that built a democracy and invented the airplane. The value is going to come from people born on Mars. There is a reason that a frontier culture is connected to a culture of invention.” 

This is getting closer to my way of thinking. A future for humans on Mars requires us to clear a conceptual hurdle, to accept that the human form is not a norm or an ideal or even a default. It’s how intelligent life adapted, with many inefficiencies, to a particular place. The good green Earth is no more standard than is the atmosphere of Venus or a moon of Saturn. “Terraforming” remains a popular concept in science fiction, where other worlds usually come with pressurized, breathable atmospheres and so many “desert planets” and “ice planets” have weather suspiciously close to that of Terran countries with low film production costs. In reality it’s not easy to effect climate change even on Earth, and settlers on an alien body will need to adapt themselves to the planet before they can adapt the planet to themselves. 

Zubrin sees that happening once Mars settlement gets under way. “If human society is restricted to one planet, you’re probably not going to see much in the way of human enhancement because there is disagreement over whether it’s a good or bad idea,” he says. “But if human beings break out of this planet and become a spacefaring species, you might see that—just as ideas that were not accepted in the Old Country were given consideration in the New World. Mars isn’t going to be a utopia; it’s going to be a laboratory.”

Still, if you’re looking to generate private or public interest in a Mars voyage, it’s probably a bad idea to say the astronauts may look like the cast of Freaks. Mars aficionados are not eager to discuss human enhancement. When I ask X Prize Foundation CEO Peter H. Diamandis about the topic, he punts, but he does have some interesting thoughts on genetic engineering in general. “There’s no question that we will soon be in a position to genetically develop specific strains of bacteria and perhaps algae that can live under Martian conditions,” Diamandis says. “The X Prize has been looking at a $1 million competition [for] the first team to adapt an Earth-based single-cell life form that can grow under the pressure, temperature, and atmospheric CO2 levels of Mars.” 

But getting people to explore deep space will involve enhancing more than just one-celled organisms. Looking around the solar system, we see nothing but worse planets. If we want to live there, we’re going to need better humans. 

Tim Cavanaugh is managing editor of reason.com.

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  • ||

    1. nuclear reactor to power magnetic shielding and propulsion
    2. subterranean martian dwellings.

    personnel radiation hazards mitigated.

    Next.

  • Sparky||

    Isn't it like some of these solutions just aren't complex enough for the "smart people" to figure out?

  • ||

    Yeah, it's already done! Please detail your magnetic shielding design, I'm curious how that works. Also, I'll need it to be rated to handle a solar flare.

  • ||

    charge up a cap bank between flares to provide the extra current needed.

    if the ship is cylindrical, just wrap a solenoid around it, with some other coils for coverage on the ends.

    The criticism you should have leveled at my idea is how IN THE FUCK are we getting all that hardware into space in the 1st place.

  • sarcasmic||

    Easy. Strap it onto a bomb and hope it doesn't blow up.

  • ||

    I think that's the only serious issue, too. If the point is that we shouldn't be spending taxpayer money on such things, fine. But the idea that we should just wait until we're supermen seems silly to me, and, frankly, I think actually getting out there will accelerate technological development.

  • ||

    I find the casualness with which you guys discuss these extreme technical hurdles to indicate that you really have no comprehension how hostile an environment space is, or how fucking vast. It's hard to take you seriously.

  • T||

    Or we know and have reached a completely different conclusion than you. That couldn't possibly be the case, could it?

  • ||

    It's hard to take you seriously.

    Comedy Gold.

  • Sparky||

    Space is big and harsh so, fuck it, let's not go there.

  • ||

    Space is big and harsh so, fuck it, let's not go there.

    How this line of reasoning failed to keep our military out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, is beyond me.

  • sarcasmic||

    If engineers were able to solve the problems of going to the moon using slide rules, I think there's a chance they could solve the problems of going to Mars using modern computers.

  • k2000k||

    We all are aware of the technical hurdles associated with space travel. But it's hard to be as pessimistic as you are considering that many other human achievements at one point were considered just as impossible. Think about heavier than air flight, super sonic speed, floating metal ships, submarines, communicating information via light.

    Think about televisions and how fucking bizarre that seems. A camera takes a picture of a scene, breaks it down into electrical signals which are then sent via wires, or satillite over vast distances, where it is reassembled and projected on your screen. It's some star trek shit right there.

  • ||

    This is so much more difficult that your metaphor is ludicrous.

    Can it be done? Possibly. But stop fucking discounting how difficult this is.

    This isn't a fucking episode of Firefly, for fuck's sake.

  • Sparky||

    But stop fucking discounting how difficult this is.

    Who is? Does the fact that it's going to be hard mean it shouldn't be done at all?

  • sarcasmic||

    It is an engineering problem that can be broken down into individual and solvable component parts.

    Would it be worth the expense of doing so? Fuck no. Especially when you factor in that government, the most wasteful entity on the planet, is probably the only organization willing to put up the coin.

    But is it solvable? Yes indeedy.

  • T||

    Hell, a digital computer is an amazing piece of technology. The irony of somebody using a PC to go all luddite should be lost on no one.

  • Realist||

    ^^^This^^^

  • ||

    The irony of people whose government is trillions of dollars in debt discussing an exercise which is going to cost trillions of dollars for no immediate benefit should also not be lost on anyone.

    But I think it is.

  • ||

    You know, it's not like we haven't overcome some of the problems--we did get people to the Moon, and people have lived in the ISS and other space stations for extended periods. Just because there are technical challenges doesn't mean we can't rationally extrapolate from the state of the art. Computer and materials sciences have advanced insanely since we last played around outside of LEO, and important advances have occurred in propulsion.

    In addition, some serious research and effort has gone into planning long-term space missions, and that wasn't all nonsense.

    I don't agree with you at all on this, though, as I said before, I do agree that NASA throwing money at people isn't the solution.

    We're not on the Moon or Mars or anywhere else because of politics controlling space for so long and because, less directly, there's no clear right for private actors to take advantage of commercial opportunities on other celestial bodies. That latter point is going to be a huge one once cheap access to orbit is achieved.

  • ||

    Most of these hurdles are surmountable, or at least sort-of surmountable. But what fucking reason is there to surmount them right now? Other than as a joyride, there is no reason to send people into space right now. When we discover solid unobtanium asteroids or whatever, maybe that will change, but for now...why bother?

  • ||

    Where else but deep space can we house you and those like you once you've been captured and sedated?

  • ||

    Your space-prison shall never hold me, Liber-Man!

  • ||

    Maybe not, but it will slow you down.

  • ||

    Maybe not, but it will slow you down.

    Get Your time-dilation field working yet?

  • Doug||

    Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

  • ||

    Exactly. We're sending Warty on a one-way trip away from here. . .without a towel!

  • An Engineer||

    Eh, give me $25 billion and complete control and I'll get you to Mars in 8 yrs...

  • ||

    Give me $25 billion.

  • cynical||

    "subterranean martian dwellings."

    Basically, this. Any successful colonization attempt would likely be preceded by an unmanned preparation effort that would construct enough starting infrastructure for the humans to move right in, safely. From there, it could be expanded further with on-site industry. The big challenge would be getting them there safely, but it's not as though the people that colonized this continent didn't endure travel risks.

  • bmp1701||

    You are forgetting the immediate and direct benefit we'd receive if we deposited Newt Gingrich on the surface of Mars.

  • StayPuftMarshmallowCo.||

    But then who would by our products?! NO DEAL!

  • Korduroy Kristen||

    Ack ack ack ack AAAAAACK!

  • ||

  • Brett L||

    Fuckyeah!

  • ||

    Warty, the Space Lord Mother the second.

  • ||

    My question is: if neutrinos move faster than the speed of light, does that mean space travel faster than the speed of light is possible?

    If it is, then a trip to Alpha Centauri and beyond is feasible. Yeah, the problem with Mars is that there's not much there to want.

    I can think of a number of reasons why living in the Arctic would be even better than Mars.

    The weather's better in the arctic.

    The atmosphere is breathable.

    Less radiation.

    Easier to supply missions, etc.

    But getting people to explore deep space will involve enhancing more than just one-celled organisms. Looking around the solar system, we see nothing but worse planets. If we want to live there, we’re going to need better humans.

    If the end goal were something better than Mars or the Arctic, we might see a lot more people willing to go. Short of travel faster than the speed of light, we'd have to engineer a ship so awesome to live aboard that people would be willing to spend their lives on it in the promise that their grandchildren would get to colonize a new world.

    That might seem hard, to get people to live on a spaceship their whole lives. It seems like it might be a miserable existence, but then I used to know somebody that chose to live in Cleveland!

    Children born and raised on a spaceship probably wouldn't miss the wide open spaces either. Build a ship that people want to live their whole lives on, and multigenerational voyages to colonize a planet in another solar system is possible.

    A lot of people, I suspect, would be willing to spend their whole lives on Star Trek's USS Enterprise if it meant they got to go into space.

  • sarcasmic||

    I remember from physics that the energy required to accelerate to c approaches infinity. Then there's the matter deceleration once you get to your destination.

    With our current understanding of physics, travel outside the solar system will be relegated to science fiction.

  • ||

    I blame lazy physicists.

  • ||

    I'm not an optical physicist, wish thoreau were around for this thread, but it seems to me that there's an awful lot of space to get things going, not a whole lot of friction to slow things down, and that if there's energy to be had out there, it would incrementally add to momentum. Adding to momentum incrementally over a period of light years we might be able to achieve some phenomenal speed.

    There' an awful lot of space and time to decelerate, too.

    That addresses the faster than the speed of light strategy; the multigenerational voyage strategy doesn't have to deal with those problems, at least not at the same extent.

  • sarcasmic||

    There isn't energy to be had, at least not enough to matter. You've got to take it with you, along with the energy required to decelerate.
    The more mass you have, the more energy it takes to accelerate it.
    The faster you want to accelerate to, the more energy it takes.

    The math simply does not work.

  • ||

    I don't know about the math.

    I don't know about there not being any energy out there either.

    I don't know whether neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light means it's possible for us to travel faster than the speed of light.

    I'm not claiming to have solved any of these problems.

    But if travel faster than the speed of light is possible, that would open up the rewards for space travel to a lot more than just that overrated hunk of rock, Mars, that's for sure.

  • sarcasmic||

    When I was taking physics in college I remember working a problem involving the energy it takes to push mass to the speed of light, and the answer approached infinity.

    I do know about the math. And it does not work.

  • ||

    Did you do the one where you figure out how fast a farmhand has to run with a 20-ft pole to fit it into a 15-ft barn?

  • sarcasmic||

    Did you do the one where you go fuck yourself?

  • ||

    Tulpa -

    That's a great exercise. In my case it was a 100 meter rocket and a 90 meter hanger... The cool part is not calculating the length dilation of relativistic speed, but when you turn it around and ask what happens from the point of view of the rocket. (since it is all relative, the rocket - or pole - experiences the barn as having been foreshortened, making fitting in even more difficult)

  • ||

    Oh, well I didn't realize you took physics in college.

    I guess we should all just take your word for it then, that achieving a speed high enough to enable single generation interstellar space travel is impossible--and it won't ever be possible in the future either?

  • sarcasmic||

    and it won't ever be possible in the future either?

    I didn't say that. Go back to my 12:39PM post.

    I said "With our current understanding of physics".

    That doesn't mean that there will never be new breakthroughs that change the game.

  • kinnath||

    Let's see, I have an undergraduate degree in physics (thoreau out ranks me by a whole bunch) and have been a practicing engineer working with safety criticals systems for 26+ years now.

    Nothing short of a practical fusion engine is going to get us close to relativistic speeds. And there is the minor problem of carrying enough fuel to accelerate to a relativistc speed and then to decelerate back to non-relativistic speeds.

    I won't say impossible, but it seems pretty fucking unlikely that we'll figure it out in the next millenium.

  • Korduroy Kristen||

    So what's the deal with those spacecraft Sagan talked about in Cosmos that would have gigantic scoops to collect atoms from deep space and process them for fuel? Crackpot? Possible? I can't recall what kind of nuclear power they were supposed to have used, but I would assume fusion

    I need to crack open my DVD of Cosmos again - it's been a while.

  • ||

    Then again what do you know? You are a "practicing engineer", not a real one.
    I mean what is "safety crticals systems"? It is either safe or it isn't.
    And working with the same one for 26+ years, are you ever finished? Obviously no.
    Only REAL engineers know, not "practicing" engineers, whatever that is. Shhhshhss....

  • Laudanummilkshake||

    There are a number of concepts that using current technology could achieve significant fractions of c, but people freak out when the hear the word "nuclear". Check out the info on the fission fragment rocket, nuclear pulse propulsion, etc. That being said, the engineering challenges of traveling at those speeds are rather significant. Note: Those technologies (and others, VASIMR, nuclear thermal) could also get us to Mars in reasonable periods of time.

  • Sparky||

    The trick will be figuring out how to pass the speed of light without accelerating through it. Like a dimensional jump from sub-c to c+.

  • ||

    tunneling.

  • DK||

    Given our current understanding of physics, there is no way to go faster than the speed of light. Period. Special relativity forbids it. Very few physicists seriously think that the neutrinos in the OPERA experiment actually exceeded the speed of light because special relativity is so overwhelmingly supported by every known experiment. And even if they did go faster, we'd just interpret them as having imaginary mass. Clearly that's not something we'll be able to emulate with organic matter.

    What about wormholes? In this case, you're not actually traveling faster than the speed of light, at least not in a conventional sense. You're taking advantage of the curvature of space to take a shortcut. And no one knows if wormholes even exists or could be made stable and large enough to allow a bacterium to travel through, let alone a ship.

  • Zuo||

    They'd go for teh holodeck.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I can think of a number of reasons why living in the Arctic would be even better than Mars. The weather's better in the arctic. The atmosphere is breathable. Less radiation. Easier to supply missions, etc.

    Water. Fish. Game. Women. One of the prettiest women I've ever known lives well above the Arctic Circle.

    A lot of people, I suspect, would be willing to spend their whole lives on Star Trek's USS Enterprise if it meant they got to go into space.

    I suspect that's much like Whine Indian's wish to gambol the forests. Presented the chance, they would run home to their dinner of stuffed rigatoni. The first time they see it live when Ensign Cannonfodder gets vaporized or Yeoman Gonna Die gets sucked into a neutron star fragment, they'd be waxing poetic for the commute up I-95.

  • ||

    I suspect that's much like Whine Indian's wish to gambol the forests. Presented the chance, they would run home to their dinner of stuffed rigatoni. The first time they see it live when Ensign Cannonfodder gets vaporized or Yeoman Gonna Die gets sucked into a neutron star fragment, they'd be waxing poetic for the commute up I-95.

    I'm not sure I'd volunteer for a multigenerational voyage if I knew I'd never get there, but there's a market for everything. Just because I wouldn't do it doesn't mean other people wouldn't.

    There are places you can go, probably within blocks of where you live, where people will pay to get their nipples pierced.

    ...not only do these people voluntarily have their nipples pierced--they pay people to do it for them!

    People going for a trip like that wouldn't be entirely unprecedented either. The survival rate for indentured servitude was really bad in the New World.

    http://encyclopediavirginia.or.....ginia#its5

    I read a little about that, and I think I'd rather have my nipples pierced than be an indentured servant in Virgina.

    I think a lot of people would volunteer to be on the first interstellar voyage to establish a colony in some other system--I bet a lot of them would pay for the privilege.

  • Zeb||

    As I have pointed out a number of times, you don't need to travel faster than light to reach faraway places in your lifetime. You just need to be able to travel arbitrarily close to the speed of light and you can get anywhere.

  • An Engineer||

    Relativity ftw

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Alas, the relativistic energy demands are such that we lose unless and until someone invents a very spiffy new technology. Possibly based on some space warping goodness that we can't even begin to describe at this point.

    Or we get uploading and general purpose nano assemblers and are willing to travel by Star Wisp. But, again, that requires several fairly fundamental break-throughs.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Odds are the neutrinos aren't going faster than light.

    Sorry, but the SN1987a data just doesn't agree with the OPERA data, and your choices are

    (1) The OPERA people got either the time wrong at the 60 ns level or the distance wrong by 20 m out of 700 km.

    (2) The astronomers and big neutrino observatory people got the arrival times of the light and neutrino wave fronts wrong by 4 years.

    (3) The correct theory is really, really strange so that it can accommodate both observations.

  • ||

    “The real profit of the New World didn’t come from a spice route to India, nor did it come from looting Aztec gold,” Zubrin says.

    16th century traders, proto-capitalists & conquistadores disagree.

  • ||

    I thought they were dead.

  • rosie||

    People went to the new world in the first place for the spice route and Aztec gold and all that cheap fertile land. Just had to oust a few natives first. All the resulting profit wouldn't have happened if the New World was a barren wasteland.

  • protefeed||

    Why would anyone want to go to great expense and risk to go to a waterless wasteland that makes Death Valley look like a lush tropical paradise in comparison?

    Where the fuck is the "romance" in such an idiotic idea, Tim?

  • T||

    Why do people climb Everest? Answer that and you're halfway there.

  • k2000k||

    Well for one there is the idea that it is Terra Nova. I could imagine a very wealthy individual, or a collection of people, packing up all the stuff they need to be self sustaining and then setting out to create their own community. Kind of the same reasons why people settled America originally. I mean look at New England. Why would anyone have left relatively calm, developed, and prosperous England to settle a rainy, cold, and wild land like that?

  • ||

    Religious persecution and poverty were the main reasons for immigration to America.

    And most of the stuff they needed to be self-sustaining in America was already here. Water, oxygen, soil, human-survivable temperature.

  • Paul||

    That's the kicker.

    When you can hunt, fish, grow crops, breathe at your destination without any help, it's a lot easier to relocate and start anew.

    When you have to live in a plastic bubble and take everything with you... things get dicier.

  • Zeb||

    Really? You don't think it woudl be amazingly awesome to stand on another planet (or moon)? I can't think of anything that would be more exciting or moving. There may not be much point to it, but I can certainly see the appeal.

  • ||

    You know,there's talk on here all the time about the limits of government and central planing with which I agree.But what is it about space that causes rational people to lose their minds?Mars is a barren rock that cannot support human life,I see no reason to go their,much less live there.Even if Mars contains minerals of value the cost and the small amounts that could be brought back to earth are insignificant.Deep space is out of our reach for the forseeable future.Besides,we have enough problems here that are in many ways created by 'smart' people doing the same things over and over.

  • k2000k||

    Same concept as seasteading. I wouldn't underestimate the draw of being able to set up your own society away from others, especially with the benefit that being on mars the Terra goverments couldn't tell you what to do. It's all just intellectual masturbatory fantasy at this point, but someday in the future travelling to mars will be no more expensive than it would have been to travel via to America. When that happens I bet you will see tons of people who want to get the fuck off of this rock.

  • ||

    being on mars the Terra goverments couldn't tell you what to do.

    Once it's feasible to travel to settlements on Mars, it's feasible to attack them too. And it's ALWAYS much easier to destroy than to build.

  • Brett L||

    This is why the Free Martian Empire's first act will be to place very dense rocks at the Earth-Sol Lagrangian points while seeking to keep clear all Martian L-points, especially Earth-Mars L-points. Hold the high ground good strategy in every gravity well.

  • Joe||

    Yes, but any hostile terrastatist actions will take 6 months to reach Mars, giving the future libermartians time to organize.

  • sarcasmic||

    But what is it about space that causes rational people to lose their minds?

    There is a difference between planning an economy and funding the engineering a machine for travel.

    Nobody can do the former, and anyone with enough coin can do the latter.

  • ||

    We libertarians tend to be very optimistic about the limitlessness of human potential.

    I'd hate to think we were limited to just what we have here on earth. One of the best reasons to work for a more libertarian world is because of all the unimaginable awesome stuff innovation can bring--stuff that we don't have access to today.

    My grandfather traveled by boat to China back around the turn of the century. He lived long enough to fly there from the United States on a commercial airplane!

    If travel to elsewhere in the galaxy were possible, and everyday people could someday recreate their lives in such a radical way if they wanted, then it would probably be a whole lot harder for various governments to convince people that everybody should be limited to whatever the government says is best way for them to live their lives.

  • Tonio||

    Mars is a barren rock that cannot support human life...

    Barren? Tentatively, yes, since we haven't yet found life there.

    Rock? Not so much. Plenty of mars dust.

    Cannot support human life? Kind of hard to argue with a vague, ill-defined statement, but since mars had water in the past it's likely to still have water even locked up as ice. Pressure/atmosphere won't support humans but it's a lot less hostile than our own moon. Temperatures sometimes go above the freezing point of water. Atmosphere provides some radiation protection.

    Please, stay home. You don't have to pay for this. But don't limit those who will take humanity beyond our home planet.

  • ||

    Maybe we should just send AI-equipped robots there that don't need food or water or oxygen and aren't as affected by radiation, but can do 99% of the work that humans could.

    You know...what we're already doing.

    And then once we have the problem of how to get stuff to and from orbit cheaply, we'll be ready to send humans if there actually is some value to it.

  • Guest1776||

    Oddly enough the GOP establishment supported Bush and weren't saying the kind of things about him as they are Newt. Weird how that works.

    Bush wants lunar stepping stone to Mars - January 9, 2004

    President Bush will announce a bold plan next week to establish a permanent base on the moon with an eventual goal of sending a manned mission to Mars, senior administration officials said last night.

    Three senior officials said Bush wants to aggressively reinvigorate the space program, which has been demoralized by a series of setbacks, including the Columbia disaster that killed seven astronauts last February and financial problems dogging the International Space Station.

    The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush’s announcement would come in the middle of next week. They would not say when a moonshot would take place, but one said it could be soon. A
    mission to Mars would not happen before 2014, officials said. Experts have placed 2018 as an ideal time, based on the positioning of the planets.

    Then again we're talking about a Republican establishment that is saying Romney is more conservative than Newt. Talk about being out of touch with reality. Perhaps they and Romney are worried Newt wants to attack the incoming aliens from planet Kolob when they return? http://tinyurl.com/843zon4

    EX CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER ON BUSHES MOON BASE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ElRr5NIIgU

    Oddly enough its the GOP establishment that is living in outer space by believing the Republican nominee don't need to motivate the base because the Democrat will because it worked so well for Dole and McCain.

  • Korduroy Kristen||

    All this has happened before. All this will happen again.

  • ||

    Wait, Starbuck is an angel?

  • Korduroy Kristen||

    Humans are Martians. Martians are human. Cylons are human. Humans are Cylons.

    Like, ZOMGZ!

  • ||

    Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin (see “How Much Is an Astronaut’s Life Worth?” page 28) tells me the radiation risk is “overdrawn” by NASA to dodge the exploratory imperative.

    Ooh! This gives me an excuse to link to the greatest song ever written about Robert Zubrin, Robert Onion by Frank Black and the Catholics. Fun fact: the lyrics are an acrostic.

  • Al||

    Commentary on space exploration in the news media is often pretty dumb, but this just about takes the cake.

  • ||

    Radiation just isn't as dangerous as most people think it is.

    A 50 year study of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagaaski showed no detectable long-term effects.

    http://www.solarstorms.org/Hiroshima.html
    In 1995, 50 years after the atomic bombings, approximately 50 percent of the survivors were still alive. The exact number is difficult to state, but it could exceed 100,000. (For example, 284,000 survivors were identified in the 1950 census; this would indicate that there were about 142,000 remaining survivors in 1995.)

    No genetic effects have been detected in a large sample (nearly 80,000) of offspring. By this, we mean that there is no detectable radiation-related increase in congenital abnormalities, mortality (including childhood cancers), chromosome aberrations, or mutations in biochemically identifiable genes.

    While long-term exposure to high rates of radiation may increase your risk of cancer, it will likely do so only after you've lived a long productive life.

    There's really no reason to think that human beings could not propagate the species (even if they lived shorter lives) on Mars or in space.

    A higher rate of birth defects might just mean a return to selective abortion or infanticide, not an end of the human race. Over time, we might just evolve better radiation resistance.

    Anyway, genetic engineering is all great, but the primary purpose would be to modify crops to grow in alien environments.

  • Sarge||

    Doom 3 nuff said.

  • Paul||

    If we want to live there, we’re going to need better humans.

    Get the right people in charge!1!!1

  • Joe||

    I think it'll be easier to go to mars...

  • ||

    Or a lot better planetary engineering.

  • ||

    It's hard enough to get people to care about fixing the climate on their own damn planet.

  • ||

    see Walter Miller's 1953 story "Crucifixus Etiam".

  • Realist||

    "The people who settle the Red Planet may not look like us."
    And probably will not "think" like us.

  • ||

    Send Newt Gingrich.

  • IceTrey||

    "no mineral value (the surface of the planet is basically rust)"

    So basically the entire planet is covered in iron. Seems valuable to me.

    The easiest way to explore Mars is to send older people on a one way trip.

  • ||

    There are differences in the genetic makeup of people in the tropics and in the artic. ( Nose shape and vitamin D production for instance ) It is only reasonable to figure that the Martian humans would show nuch more differences with the rest of us than those.

  • ||

    The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson develops basically all the arguments Cavanaugh is grasping towards here, particularly the necessity of adaptation to the planet (Robinson calls this "areoformation" and goes into a great deal of detail about its social significance).

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