Pop Culture
Jun 26, 2008, 06:53AM

Impossible Journey To The Dead World

The Red Planet has a luring appeal. Our American frontiersman persona drives us to push past conventional boundaries. But is the trip worth years of cold, dark silence, muscle deterioration, and the biggest space budget ever known in the midst of a recession? Maybe only in daydreams.

Since the Mars Lander successfully touched down on alien soil a month ago, our minds have once again been stirred by an old daydream.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted 409-15 to increase funding for NASA, with an extra $1 billion allocated for a new program aimed at sending astronauts on long voyages. While President Bush opposed the allocation, he has long been an advocate of a manned Mars expedition, and John McCain recently announced his willingness to increase NASA funds for such a goal. Last November, NASA itself announced that its goal was to put a man on Mars by 2037.

All this optimistic chatter seems to have spread the general impression that taking a trip to Mars is no more difficult than sending a probe to Mars. Perhaps we've been lulled into a stupor by years of science fiction movies and television shows, which take the eventual colonization of the galaxy by humans for granted.

The fact is, a manned mission to Mars would be the single hardest thing humans - any humans - have ever attempted.



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