"The Conquest of Mars - Why Human Exploration of the Red Planet May Be Crucial To Our Survival on Earth"
Space exploration is all too often considered a 'leisure activity', or a luxury that can be attended to only after all other needs are fully satisfied. But history and archeology teaches just the opposite: a curious species, one that expands its range and varies its ecological niches, will survive when those that are static go extinct. Modern humans are the descendants of curious explorers, not the self-gratifying stay-at-homes - who left no descendants. In that context, the promised rewards of Mars exploration center on providing the knowledge and power for humankind to overcome predictable crises in coming decades and centuries. A Mars expedition will be significantly more difficult than the Apollo moon landings, and Oberg explains why, along with why they won't be nearly as expensive. Unlike the hardware and hard rock challenges of Apollo, the challenges of Mars deal with 'life sciences'. How can we keep humans alive, sane, and fit enough for the 1000-day voyages? What is the best strategy for searching out evidence for life on Mars, and what is the significance of that knowledge to the biological sciences? Why does Mars alone in the Solar System probably have records of solar 'weather' over the past million years, critical to anticipating future solar changes and their impact on Earth's climate? What would be the significance of a permanent human presence on Mars, and eventually of a deliberate alteration of the planet's climate to make it more hospitable for a broad range of Earth life? If the blood-red 'God of War' in the skies of Earth can be changed by human "planetary engineering" in coming centuries to a green jewel, will the example of human constructive cooperation inspire our culture to metaphorically overcome the mythic Mars and progress towards multi-planetary harmony?