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Curiosity Touches Down On The Red Planet August 5, 2012

Posted by Metabiological in Beyond Earth.
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Touchdown confirmed!

And with that the years of planning have paid off.  Mars rover Curiosity is safely on the surface of the red planet.  The first images are coming through and as of right now everything looks great.  Soon Curiosity will begin it’s mission of searching for life but to many including myself the mission is already a success.

Raise a glass if you have one to all the hard working people at NASA.  They deserve it.

P.S. To all the naysayers, those who through their own short-sightedness and lack of imagination question the need for humanity to explore the solar system and push the boundaries of knowledge I have just one thing to say…


Company To Establish Colony On Mars June 4, 2012

Posted by Metabiological in Beyond Earth.
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Been gone for awhile (vacation in Chicago) so forgive the lack of posts.  I have many backlogged but let’s start with a short one.

Making the rounds in the futurist/transhumanist community has been a promotional video from private space company named MarsOne.  As the name would imply the company is interested in establishing a human colony on Mars by 2023.  So far so ho hum but there are two elements of this plan that make it interesting.

The first is that the colony would be planned from the beginning as a permanent base, meaning that all colonists will be expected to stay for life. Anyone who signs up to be the first human on Mars will also be signing up to be the first dead human on Mars.  This is actually a pretty smart idea as it removes the problems and expenses of a return trip thus freeing up more resources for the base itself.  I can also imagine that selecting people who would know in advance that they would be in for the long haul might result in a psychologically stronger and more committed colony.

More interesting, and rather strange, is the proposed plan to fund the expedition.  According to the planners that funding would come by turning the whole thing into a giant space-themed reality show.  No, really.

Setting aside my initial gut reaction to hate anything which reminds me of reality television I can’t see how this would actually work.  People watch reality TV (so I’m told) largely for the human drama of watching terrible people acting in terrible ways.  It makes us feel better to know that no matter how bad we may behave at least we aren’t THAT bad.  Trying to slap that formula onto an incredibly complicated and let’s not forget risky mission strikes me as doomed to fail.  Either you end up with a boring reality show about focused colonists doing what they need to do to survive both the cold of space and the harshness of Mars or you end with the Kardashians in space and get to watch everything go to hell.