‘Why Not Mars’

Maciej Ceglowski, writing at Idle Words:

Somehow we’ve embarked on the biggest project in history even though it has no articulable purpose, offers no benefits, and will cost taxpayers more than a good-sized war. Even the builders of the Great Pyramid at Giza could at least explain what it was for. And yet this project has sailed through an otherwise gridlocked system with the effortlessness of a Pentagon budget. Presidents of both parties now make landing on Mars an official goal of US space policy. Even billionaires who made their fortune automating labor on Earth agree that Mars must be artisanally explored by hand.

The whole thing is getting weird.


Fourth graders writing to Santa make a stronger case for an X-Box than NASA has been able to put together for a Mars landing.

To be clear, he’s talking about a manned mission to Mars. I am all in favor of exploring the entirety of our solar system with robots (and I believe Ceglowski is too). What makes almost no sense is exploring — let alone colonizing — Mars with humans.

It makes more sense to colonize the Gobi Desert than to colonize Mars — at least it’s relatively safe and inexpensive to get there and back. But no one proposes doing so because it’s so inhospitable. But the Gobi Desert is far more hospitable than the surface of Mars. (E.g. breathable air.)

This is why we make robots and computers — to do things humans can’t do, don’t want to do, or simply aren’t good at doing.

Monday, 2 January 2023