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In making the case for sending humans to explore Mars in the near future. President Bush has proposed a grand multi-billion dollar long-term project. A project, to this author, is well worth the money. To start off, I will list off a few of my reasons that I will describe more specifically later in this article. First of all, the price tag of 170 billion dollars could easily be reduced by extensive research of more energy and cost efficient technology in the 26 years to come before we actually launch. Second, the possible benefit of spin-off (The transfer of new NASA technology to U.S. consumers) is too great to ignore.
The new technology that will be developed from the research for the Mars trip and the new technology that could develop from researching the physics of Mars or finding new resources on Mars will eventually be passed on to the average citizen. My final reason is that exploring new territories is human nature. Since the dawn of time, Man has discovered and conquered strange new frontiers and took full advantage of the new area. By researching on Mars and in Mars physics, we could set the rudimentary foundation of possibly in the distant future terraforming Mars for human inhabitance. For all of these reasons I urge you to support Bush’s plan for Mars exploration.
Starting with my first reason of the possible reducing of the price tag, as I said before, can be easily accomplished. NASA’s prediction of the total spending that will take place for the Mars trip is exactly what they said it was, a prediction. This prediction can be reduced by spending a portion of that money to research more energy and cost efficient propulsion engines and fuel. Such propulsion engines are, conveniently, already in development, reducing the cost by subtracting the cost of the amount of research already done. This advanced propulsion engine is a plasma-propulsion engine which will get humans to Mars in only 40 days reducing the amount of time that they are exposed to radiation. This engine’s fuel will also not be a costly problem considering that is the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen.
This is also extremely convenient considering that Mars has already been proven to have frozen water at the polar caps which could be separated into Hydrogen to be used as engine fuel, and into Oxygen which could obviously be used for breathing. This brings me to my next subject, of life resources. If we pack the ship to the brim full of life resources such as food and water and use these resources efficiently it should be enough to get us to Mars. For the trip back we could send robotic space pods full of food and water to the red planet in advance to later be picked up by the astronauts. If we do these things carefully and efficiently in the right order, I predict that we could reduce the total spending at most to 85 billion dollars, half of the original prediction.
For my second reason, the benefit of spin-off, I will start off by saying that this factor is too great to ignore. In the past years NASA spin-off from space exploration has given us such marvelous technology such as the fireman’s air tank that a fireman uses when he rushes into a burning house to save a crying baby. Spin-off has also provided us with the personal alarm system a pen-sized ultrasonic transmitter used by prison guards, teachers, the elderly, and disabled to call for help. This pen transmits a silent signal to a receiver that will display the exact location of the emergency. Spin-off has also provided us with many more important technologies such as, radiation hazard detectors, Doppler radar, (used for weather predictions) programmable pacemakers, voice-controlled wheelchairs, ultrasound scanners, and many many more. Where would we be without these vital technologies?
Far behind is the right answer. This is why keeping NASA active in further research and exploration is critical for future human technological advancements. Imagine the technological developments we could accomplish by researching for and actually visiting Mars. The engine could be used for future cars or aircraft. New materials and metals we will discover on Mars could be used to build very strong, yet lightweight products possibly including submarines strong enough to withstand the pressure of a deep-sea trench. Or these materials could be used for building strong, stable and very tall skyscrapers or maybe stronger yet versatile body-armor or armored personnel carriers for our dear, beloved soldiers overseas. The possibilities are endless, just imagine them. All of these spin-offs could come true by exploring Mars.
For my final reason, the terraforming of Mars, I will say that it will be possible in a few decades. It’s a known fact that the world is overpopulated we need more space for the human race to continue thriving. Mars could be a perfect solution in the distant future. Mars, as I said before, already has frozen water at the polar caps and minimal oxygen in it’s atmosphere. Mars also has plenty of Carbon Dioxide for plants to grow. Human inhabitation on Mars is possible. Of course, for us to inhabit Mars, we must first explore and investigate this planet, which why we must send humans to Mars. Though some may argue that the terraformation of Mars is only an optimistic dream there is no denying the fact that it is possible. The technological requirements for Mars are however, very great.
For example we would need a ship that could accommodate a crew for a long period of time, and enough food, water, and air for about 2 years. During those two years they would need to build a small shelter to live in, plant seeds for food and oxygen in the future and learn to adapt in the Martian landscape. But by exploring Mars’ landscape now, we would get a head start for learning how to terraform it later. By sending astronauts to live on Mars for a short period of time will set the rudimentary foundation for mass, long-term human inhabitation later. So obviously, this is a realistic reason to send humans to Mars.
For all of the reasons above, it should be obvious to you that we need to send humans to Mars. To review, we need to send humans to Mars because NASA’s predicted cost of going to Mars can be easily reduced. That technological spin-offs of the research for the Mars trip and actually researching on Mars could astronomically improve our quality of living (no pun intended). And finally, that terraforming Mars in the distant future could highly reduce the overpopulation epidemic and further improve our quality of living. So in conclusion, it is vital to send humans to Mars for the very progression of humankind itself. Or as Neil Armstrong said on his very first step on the moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for man-kind.”