33 votes

Would you go to Mars?

I've been thinking a lot recently about space exploration and colonization, and the big question that's been running through my head has been this: would I be willing to leave everything on Earth behind and go to Mars, even if there was a strong possibility that I would never return home?

Wondering what everyone here on Tildes thinks about that question.

37 comments

  1. [2]
    escher Link
    Yes, I would absolutely go to Mars, even if it was a one-way ticket. Just because I was born on one particular planet shouldn't mean I have to die there. If I got to be a part of the first wave of...

    Yes, I would absolutely go to Mars, even if it was a one-way ticket. Just because I was born on one particular planet shouldn't mean I have to die there. If I got to be a part of the first wave of Martian colonization? You bet.

    Nobody lives forever, and only a few really make it into the history books.

    20 votes
    1. SleepyGary Link Parent
      For me, I would want to be either one of the first three, or the ten thousandth if promised land & the resources contained beneath it. If I'm going to die an untimely death on Mars there's gotta...

      For me, I would want to be either one of the first three, or the ten thousandth if promised land & the resources contained beneath it. If I'm going to die an untimely death on Mars there's gotta be some legacy to be left behind. Being the 100th dude on Mars, especially if you're not doing some amazing science isn't to get you in the history books.

      1 vote
  2. ThatFanficGuy Link
    That is a good fuckin' question. How strong is a possibility, though? Are we willingly going to prepare missions that leave a lot to local conditions, without the research and the preparations? I...

    That is a good fuckin' question.

    How strong is a possibility, though? Are we willingly going to prepare missions that leave a lot to local conditions, without the research and the preparations? I know there's a lot to consider, and some of the things are going to slip through the cracks – or could not have been predicted from Earth. Still: how strong?

    Right now, and probably within the foreseeable future, I wouldn't go. I don't have the skills to maintain or help construct a Martian colony, and I have health issues that would prevent me from being effective even if I did (anxiety and depression not the least of them). Most of my projects would require prolonged, concentrated attention to complete, and are of art's variety, which would be of little use on a young colony that may have trouble sustaining itself initially.

    Which is why I'd have immense respect for anyone who would dare to help it. First of all, you're going to have to be pretty damn good in a science or engineering field to be even considered. There's going to be a lot of gruntwork, sure, but not fucking that up would require an insight only acquired through experience with the forces in question. To be that good in a field of human advancement will always inspire my respect.

    Then you have the guts to leave Earth and go on a massive bullet to an uninhabitable planet and making a living there. That's beyond comprehensible for me right now. The sheer strength of character to do that? Amazing.

    Then you have the physical and mental fortitude to withstand the harsh, highly-demanding conditions of establishing a fucking Mars colony.

    If you go to Mars, I will write you a fucking sonnet every day. I don't know how to write a sonnet. Poetry is generally tough for me. I will learn how to do that, and I will do it every day, just to commemorate the sheer overlooked mass of your personage.

    And when the colony's established, and accepts tourists? I'd go. Spend a few months on fucking Mars. Help out where I can, and try not to be too much of a nuisance as I try to learn as much as possible about to workings of such an immense endeavor.

    6 votes
  3. Sahasrahla Link
    Maybe. Assuming we're talking about building a permanent settlement it would depend on the answers to a few questions: Would I have something to contribute? My professional skills wouldn't be the...

    Maybe. Assuming we're talking about building a permanent settlement it would depend on the answers to a few questions:

    Would I have something to contribute? My professional skills wouldn't be the most critical and for the usefulness they would have I'm not at the top of my field. That's fine on Earth but in at least the early days of settlement every seat on the rocket would count.

    What kind of society and lifestyle exist on Mars? People have conflicting ideas about how society should work and if we're building a new one from scratch there's no telling right now how that will turn out. And will the lifestyle be like working on the ISS, a remote research station, a small town, or what? Will I have to be an employee with a set job or would I have more freedom to live there and choose what I do?

    How is my age and health? Fine now I hope but what about when they start selling tickets?

    What and who will I be leaving behind on Earth? This is probably the biggest one people think of, the "I'll never see my friends or family again" argument, but realistically people do this all the time when moving to new cities or countries. The main difference is, even if you rarely or never see your old friends or family in person again, there's always the feeling that you could if you ever wanted to. Would there be people staying on Earth who I wouldn't want to live apart from? There's also considerations such as whatever career, home, etc. I might be giving up.

    Who will be coming with me to Mars and who will already be there? The flip side of the question above. If I'm married or otherwise in a relationship going to Mars won't be a decision for only one person. There's also the possibility that I'll know some people who have gone already or who are planning to go. What if staying on Earth is the option that costs me friends and family because a bunch of them are planning on going to Mars?

    What opportunities are on Mars? No, not the rover. Aside from walking alien landscapes what would I be able to do on Mars better than I could do on Earth? Starting a business, shaping a new society, helping a cause I believe in, being a part of history; what could I accomplish?

    What possibilities are there for returning to Earth for a visit? Every rocket that goes to Mars will likely be coming back (why waste an expensive space vehicle when you can reuse it?) so I doubt the trip would ever be "one way", but if I did take a return trip how easy would it be to get back to Mars? Would I have to abandon the new life I built if I ever wanted to see the Earth again?

    What's the purpose of the settlement and how viable is it? Would I really be contributing to a new permanent settlement or would I be contributing to something that would end up being an extended rock collecting expedition?

    What's it like to grow old on Mars? If I'm staying long term will I have adequate elder care when I need it? What kind of health problems will I be dealing with from living in a lower-g environment and other issues?

    What do the people who live there say about it? What about those who have returned? Important to consider, especially as it relates to the questions above.


    I think expanding beyond Earth and learning to live in space and on other planets is important. It's something that I hope humanity will do and I hope it's something that we'll make progress on in my lifetime so I can at least see the beginnings of it. That being said, I expect the profile of an early settler on Mars will be someone without deep roots who is young, healthy, talented, ambitious, idealistic, and maybe a little bit nuts. How many of those qualities will I have when settlement starts? And how long will it be until a greater range of people would be welcome or desirable?

    I hope a lot of people do go to Mars and elsewhere, but I won't know if I want to be one of them until the decision to go is more concrete.

    6 votes
  4. [4]
    cadadr (edited ) Link
    Never. Edit: I meant not until it's safe, this exclamative sentence does not relly convey that, sorry. I was really interested in astronomy as a kid, but it's been quite a while since then and...

    Never. Edit: I meant not until it's safe, this exclamative sentence does not relly convey that, sorry.

    I was really interested in astronomy as a kid, but it's been quite a while since then and I've forgotten lots and lots of stuff. But I don't think that it's possible that any significant colonisation of Mars is possible. I will be the first to admit that I'm not knowledgeable enough to contribute to that discussion tho. So let me assume that it's possible.

    Being among the first to go to Mars would probably be a very troublesome and stressful experience. You would have to be the ones that has to live through everything and nobody has nor ever had any experience about how to overcome the difficulties you'd face. We can only imagine them at this point. It'd probably take decades or even some generations to make living on Mars a bearable thing, manageable enough that one could do something that is not related to survival, like any sort of leisure or random socialising or art etc.

    So I'd rather go late or watch it from Earth and gossip about it. Over yonder, I'd be burnt out emotionally pretty soon, under all that stress.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      Matt Damon did. We should ask Matt Damon.

      You would have to be the ones that has to live through everything and nobody has nor ever had any experience about how to overcome the difficulties you'd face.

      Matt Damon did. We should ask Matt Damon.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        cadadr Link Parent
        :D you got me with that! You mean https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_(film)?

        :D you got me with that! You mean https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_(film)?

        1 vote
        1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
          Yeah. Those were rough things to put an actor through. I mean, leaving him on Mars? The undereating part? He's seriously brave!

          Yeah. Those were rough things to put an actor through. I mean, leaving him on Mars? The undereating part? He's seriously brave!

          2 votes
  5. [2]
    Autoxidation Link
    I'd go in a heartbeat. I have a background in geology and geospatial science, and would love to map the rock layers and types across the entire surface.

    I'd go in a heartbeat. I have a background in geology and geospatial science, and would love to map the rock layers and types across the entire surface.

    5 votes
    1. sqew Link Parent
      I’ve seen some jokes about how a geologist with a hammer could learn more in one afternoon on Mars than we’ve learned from all the rovers we’ve sent combined. I’m sure your skills would be much...

      I’ve seen some jokes about how a geologist with a hammer could learn more in one afternoon on Mars than we’ve learned from all the rovers we’ve sent combined.

      I’m sure your skills would be much appreciated and that it would be fascinating work.

      3 votes
  6. jgb Link
    A brief thought on one-way tickets that has crossed my mind recently. It's easy to think of the 'one-way ticket' as futuristic - a motif of the brave space pioneer trope beloved by sci-fi authors...

    A brief thought on one-way tickets that has crossed my mind recently. It's easy to think of the 'one-way ticket' as futuristic - a motif of the brave space pioneer trope beloved by sci-fi authors and adherents of Elon Musk's twitter feed. But really, people throughout history have purchased one-way tickets, in both a metaphorical and literal sense.

    In 19th century Irish emigrants to America, we have perhaps the best example of this. So certain was it that these emigrants would never return to their homeland that wakes were held on the eve of the voyage, conducted in the image of wakes for the dead, to mourn the departure of the emigrant. The poignant term 'American Wake' was used for this practice.

    The American Wake of Ireland

    4 votes
  7. Neverland Link
    I truly believe in the goal of making humanity a multi-planetary species. So if there was some unique contribution that I could make on Mars, absolutely would go. It would probably be really hard...

    I truly believe in the goal of making humanity a multi-planetary species. So if there was some unique contribution that I could make on Mars, absolutely would go. It would probably be really hard living though.

    2 votes
  8. Weldawadyathink Link
    If I was told to fly to a launch site this minute, and I could take nothing with me, and there is a non-negligible chance of death either in transit or on the surface, I would accept instantly....

    If I was told to fly to a launch site this minute, and I could take nothing with me, and there is a non-negligible chance of death either in transit or on the surface, I would accept instantly. There is nothing that ties me here on Earth enough to outweigh being a pioneer on Mars!

    2 votes
  9. [12]
    Staross Link
    No, this whole Mars thing is really dumb imo. There's nothing you can do there that robots can't do, plus there's not much to do anyway. If you like deserts or uninhabitable places there's plenty...

    No, this whole Mars thing is really dumb imo. There's nothing you can do there that robots can't do, plus there's not much to do anyway. If you like deserts or uninhabitable places there's plenty on earth already, plus you won't get deadly doses of radiations, which is a plus.

    2 votes
    1. [9]
      Sahasrahla Link Parent
      I don't want to try to change your mind on this but maybe in the spirit of discussion I could give some reasons why some people think trying to live permanently in space and on other worlds is a...

      I don't want to try to change your mind on this but maybe in the spirit of discussion I could give some reasons why some people think trying to live permanently in space and on other worlds is a good idea.

      There's nothing you can do there that robots can't do

      That's an opinion I see often and it's one that I think shows a disconnect in how different people view the possibilities of humanity's interactions with space. This is a view that sees space as, at best, a giant laboratory. It's somewhere kind of interesting that we can send robots to so that we can analyze chemistry on distant worlds and take nicer pictures of the stars. In this view sending people is superfluous; the risk and effort of supporting a squishy warm person who likes food and water and air is a bit silly when we can much more cheaply send a robot with some fancy attachments to do that science instead.

      What this view misses, though, is that the people arguing for living on Mars and elsewhere don't see space as a laboratory but as a potential home. Which, of course, brings us to the next point: we already have empty barren wastelands on Earth that are more hospitable than anything out in space, so why not try living there instead? The answer I have for that (leaving aside issues like ecological damage, treaties, etc.) is that if we learn to live in, say, Antarctica then that really only opens up a small additional area that people could live in and it doesn't really open up any possibilities that don't exist elsewhere on Earth.

      Learning to live on other worlds, though, opens up much greater areas. Mars alone has about as much surface as the non-ocean parts of Earth. Learning to live in space itself, on crafts and habitats we build, opens up practically infinite areas compared to what we have now. It wouldn't necessarily be a harsh life after a while either: when we talk of living on Mars or space what we're really talking about is living in artificial habitats we've built in those places. No one would be sitting around on Mars or floating out in space wondering where all the air and water was in their new home.

      That still leaves the question though of "why?" Why bother doing any of that at all? If we see a possible future of a billion people living on Mars and a trillion people living on space habitats, what's so great about that future that would be worth the time and effort now to work towards it?

      (And just as an aside to the usual question of "why spend time/money on some space thing when we've got problems on Earth?" I'd say that, 1. those goals aren't mutually exclusive, and 2. we're already spending vast resources on things other than "solving our problems". How much effort is human civilization putting towards making, advertising and distributing beer and potato chips? Where's that on our list of priorities?)

      To answer the question of why do this at all I can think of a few answers:

      • More people means more of everything humans do well. More art, more science, more inventiveness, more varieties of human culture, more ideas. Imagine what would be lost to humanity if a quirk of geology had submerged half the continents eons ago. What if places such as China, the US, India, Europe etc. had simply never existed? Space is big, and what future societies would we be missing if humanity were on the scale of only billions instead of trillions?

      • Space is a challenge and the inventiveness needed to live there would have ripple effects throughout the rest of society. Innovation and invention mostly doesn't come from people sitting around thinking up ideas out of the blue, it comes from people solving problems in unique ways. Learning to live in space and on other worlds would be an unprecedented challenge that could give us not only new science and engineering but new cultures and ways of thinking, just like the industrial revolution inspired new ways of thinking about our societies and ourselves.

      • Our solar system is full of resources. Why extract raw materials and build on Earth, polluting ourselves and exhausting our resources in the process, when we could do this in space? Even just near-Earth asteroids could supply more than our terrestrial mines ever could, and the asteroid belt has even more. This could be done in large part by robots, but being able to have people involved at least for some of the manufacturing stages could be useful. In any case, technologies and infrastructure required for asteroid mining and space habitation would have quite a bit of overlap.

      • Space is big and we don't know what's out there. We can look at Mars and say it's a useless desert, but what else might there be a few star systems over? This would be a very long term goal but the first step would be a presence in space and some practice living in our own solar system.

      • Every now and then there are mass extinction events. That isn't to say that a colony on Mars or elsewhere is supposed to be an Earth 2.0 which will let us trash our current planet by ignoring climate change, but rather it increases the chances of humanity surviving long term when extinction level events happen, as they have several times in our world's history. On the scale of a human lifetime something like a giant meteor strike or a supervolcano erupting seems hardly worth considering, but on a long enough timescale such events become a near certainty. If we want to ensure the long term survival of humanity into the distant future we need to have self-sustaining populations somewhere besides Earth.

      Mostly the drive to live and work in space comes down to seeing it not as a lifeless void but as a place full of possibilities. Living there seems like science fiction but that's only because the best science fiction tries to imagine our possible futures. Space isn't full of laser swords and green women, but with enough effort and ambition and clarity of vision I think the possibilities of what we could achieve there are very real and worth pursuing.

      9 votes
      1. [8]
        papasquat Link Parent
        Why mars though? The atmosphere isn't breathable, there's nothing we can eat there, gravity is low enough that it would cause health issues, the list goes on. We're not even remotely close to...

        Why mars though? The atmosphere isn't breathable, there's nothing we can eat there, gravity is low enough that it would cause health issues, the list goes on.

        We're not even remotely close to running out of space on Earth, and all signs point to our population growth eventually stopping or even decreasing. If it really came to it, living underground would be 1000 times easier, safer, and cheaper than living on Mars.

        If we wanted an "ark" to save humanity, living underground would be a much better option too.

        The whole idea just seems like a desperate attempt to fulfill a juvenile sci-fi fantasy on other people's dime. I can't really see any tangible benefits that couldn't be gained far cheaper elsewhere.

        4 votes
        1. [5]
          CALICO Link Parent
          The Earth will not last forever. While the limits of habitability stretch into the hundreds of million years ahead, it is not safe here. Glaciation, Volcanism, Methane Hydrate Gasification, Anoxic...

          The Earth will not last forever. While the limits of habitability stretch into the hundreds of million years ahead, it is not safe here. Glaciation, Volcanism, Methane Hydrate Gasification, Anoxic Events, Coronal Mass Ejections, Asteroid Impacts, Gamma Ray Bursts, Rogue Cosmic Objects, and more. In the past 500 million years there have been five major mass extinction events, resulting in the extinction of many or most of the species at the time. 75,000 years ago a supervolcano erupted at Lake Toba, Indonesia, reducing the human population to a bottleneck of a few thousand individuals. There is building evidence to support a global cataclysm having occurred about 12,500 years ago during the Younger Dryas at the end of the last ice age. The likelihood of future cataclysm is guaranteed; it's a matter of when, not if. Whether it's terrestrial, cosmic, or a product of human effort, if humanity stays on Earth, humanity dies on Earth.

          There are upwards of two trillion galaxies in the observable universe There are four-hundred billion stars out there in our galaxy alone. If only one out of a million stars had planets, and one out of a million of those planets had life, and only one out of a million of those developed intelligent life, there would be hundreds of thousands of civilizations out there.

          We ought to be seeing evidence of intelligent life, everywhere. The sky should be glowing with radio transmissions from other civilizations. But as far as we can tell, for as far as we can see, we seem to be alone. Maybe we just haven't seen them yet. Maybe we're the first, somebody has to be. Maybe a planet developing life and intelligence is even harder than we think it is, and we're well and truly alone in a vast and sterile void.

          The Universe is pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.

          Life. Intelligence. Consciousness. The subjective experience of being aware of your own awareness is the most complex, incomprehensible, absolutely fucking bonkers, unfathomably valuable thing the universe has cooked up so far. If all it takes to snuff out that flame forever is a mismanagement of society or a piece of garbage from space, then I think we really ought to be doing something about this. We stand on the shore of the cosmic ocean, with oblivion at our backs and all our eggs in a single basket. I cannot fathom deciding to stay put, when we could go forth, set sail, establish ourselves throughout the heavens & experiencing everything there is to experience. If not that, then what the hell was the point in being here, in the first place? The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.

          There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

          We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.

          — John F. Kennedy, 1962

          5 votes
          1. [4]
            papasquat Link Parent
            I agree, but it's even less safe on mars. Even if an asteroid hit earth, the atmosphere stopped being breathable, there was a large scale nuclear exchange, earth would still be more habitable than...

            While the limits of habitability stretch into the hundreds of million years ahead, it is not safe here.

            I agree, but it's even less safe on mars. Even if an asteroid hit earth, the atmosphere stopped being breathable, there was a large scale nuclear exchange, earth would still be more habitable than mars.
            Life is native here, and I honestly can't think of a single event that has the possibility to wipe out all of it. That still puts Earth leaps and bounds ahead of Mars. It's a much more pratical effort to focus on preventing and mitigating those things happening to Earth than it is to sign our planet off as being doomed as starting elsewhere.

            I know people like to chime in and say "There's no reason we can't do both". There kind of is though. Mars colonization would be a massively expensive endeavor. More expensive than anything humanity has ever undertaken before. Meanwhile people are currently dying and suffering on this planet, and we have a handful of impending events that will make things much worse soon without allocating resources towards it.

            It's akin to learning that termites are a thing and deciding to buy a second house to hedge your bets instead of just getting an exterminator. Except that second house you're thinking of buying has no breathable air and is in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              CALICO Link Parent
              The Earth is doomed. The Universe is doomed as well, but it has a far longer lifespan. An important thing to remember about cost, is that money is a purely human concept. It doesn't really exist....

              The Earth is doomed. The Universe is doomed as well, but it has a far longer lifespan.

              An important thing to remember about cost, is that money is a purely human concept. It doesn't really exist. It's an abstraction with no objective weight or measure. Most of the money in the world does not physically exist, rather it's only in ledgers and legal documents. The universe deals in only one currency, and that is of energy. There are a number of ideas behind the future of energy generation, full solar harvesting being the grail. Get enough infrastructure into space, and you have functionally unlimited raw resources as well from the asteroid belt.

              If you have the raw materials and the energy to do something, the only limitation is your knowledge and ability.

              That isn't to say that we ought to ignore the problems here on Earth. We can do both.
              In 2018, SpaceX was valued at about 28 billion USD. That same year, Amazon and Apple combined were valued at over 2 trillion USD. In 2013, the Gross World Product was about 76 Trillion USD. A few dozen private individuals hold the comparable capital to the bottom half of the world population. Estimates of the total amount of wealth worldwide is measured in the hundreds of trillions into the quadrillions. Today, in 2019, there is an absurd amount of money to go around to address the problems of the here and now. There's only a lack of will.

              As of September 2016, there were 711 known asteroids with a value exceeding 100 trillion USD, each. The asteroid belt is filthy with nickel, iron, cobalt, water, nitrogen, hydrogen, and ammonia. It's flushed with gold, silver platinum, iridium, osmium, and palladium. Stacked with rhenium, rhodium, ruthenium, tungsten, molybdenum, aluminum, and titanium. The Sun outputs 10^24 J/s. That exceeds the annual energy expenditure of the Earth in 0.4 milliseconds.

              We have functionally infinite energy, and functionally infinite resources, just ripe for the taking.

              Once you reach out and grab what's in front of you, money really stops to matter in any meaningful sense.

              3 votes
              1. Sahasrahla Link Parent
                Just as an addendum to your excellent comment: ideas like asteroid mining and large scale energy harvesting in space may seem like outlandish science fiction that could never be real, but it's...

                Just as an addendum to your excellent comment: ideas like asteroid mining and large scale energy harvesting in space may seem like outlandish science fiction that could never be real, but it's worth comparing our own biases to how people in the recent past would see the world today. Imagine what someone from 1800 would make of electric appliances, crossing the world within 24 hours, thinking machines that could act autonomously, medicines that could cure or prevent the worst diseases of the day, people visiting the moon, buildings a half mile tall, or any other modern wonder. The average person, knowing what they knew then, would very probably dismiss these ideas too.

                Or, thinking of this from the other direction: if we try to imagine what our future will be like, and the answer is that there will be nothing that would seem impossible to most people now, then that answer is almost certainly wrong.

                1 vote
              2. papasquat Link Parent
                It's a human concept, but that doesn't mean it doesn't really exist. It's a rough approximation of human effort. Energy isn't the only thing stopping progress. We have more than enough energy on...

                An important thing to remember about cost, is that money is a purely human concept. It doesn't really exist.

                It's a human concept, but that doesn't mean it doesn't really exist. It's a rough approximation of human effort. Energy isn't the only thing stopping progress. We have more than enough energy on earth for everyone to live happy, fulfilling lives for the next hundred thousand years. The problem is allocating human effort towards making that happen. The control of human effort is dictated almost entirely by money, and whoever controls that money controls the direction of human effort. The more wealth we have, the more human effort we have at our disposal. Thus, money/wealth can be thought of as a pretty good approximation of the things we can accomplish. After all, labor, technology, and willpower are all finite resources; very real decisions about how to allocate those resources are made every second of every day, allocating those resources to doing one thing very much means that there are a number of other things you can't do.

                I would much rather allocate those resources towards efforts that will improve human lives and end suffering. Once we have those figured out, we can start worrying about recreating Star Trek in order to fulfill a sense of purpose.

        2. [2]
          Sahasrahla Link Parent
          The response to most of your comment wouldn't be substantively different than what I've already written but it's worth addressing this: As a genre science fiction is a bit of a double-edged sword:...

          The response to most of your comment wouldn't be substantively different than what I've already written but it's worth addressing this:

          The whole idea just seems like a desperate attempt to fulfill a juvenile sci-fi fantasy on other people's dime.

          As a genre science fiction is a bit of a double-edged sword: some people see the ideas in it and take inspiration for how we can build our own future, while other people see those ideas in the context of silly spaces fantasies and think them as outlandish and unrealistic as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Looking at it the latter way, any advancements in science or technology already thought of in science fiction which are fundamentally different than what we already have will look like "dumb nerd shit" that only perpetual adolescents would dream of.

          For a bit of a counter to that mindset there's an anecdote I heard in a talk from Guy Gavriel Kay. Though a historical-fantasy author (who, incidentally, is respected enough for his literature to have been appointed to the Order of Canada) he was invited to China to discuss his work with some academics and to attend a science fiction convention set up by the ruling Communist Party. While there he says he asked his hosts why they were encouraging science fiction when previously the Party had been against the genre. The answer he was told was that when talking to some of the best scientists in the west one thing many of them had in common was that they were inspired by science fiction. So, the Party (or at least some elements within it) decided to encourage Chinese science fiction to help produce better scientists. Again, it's just an anecdote, but I think it's relevant when considering if science fiction is just dumb entertainment or something more.

          other people's dime

          The good news is that's not happening. The only two groups seriously pushing for space colonization are the private companies Blue Origin and SpaceX. Blue Origin is self-funding by its founder Jeff Bezos selling Amazon stock, and SpaceX (after some startup money from its own billionaire founder and other investors) is funding itself from paying customers. There is public funding for SpaceX in the form of contracts for government satellite launches and supply runs and such to the ISS, but that's more of a strategic choice by the US government to ensure cheap and reliable access to space by encouraging private industry.

          4 votes
          1. papasquat Link Parent
            I have nothing against Sci Fi. I'm a huge Star Trek fan in fact, and I've seen every episode ever produced from each series at least three times. What I have a problem with is using it as a manual...

            I have nothing against Sci Fi. I'm a huge Star Trek fan in fact, and I've seen every episode ever produced from each series at least three times. What I have a problem with is using it as a manual for how we should live our lives. I, and most people who have thought about it know that the Federation as its depicted couldn't work in real life. I'd rather us think about whether we should do something based on if it actually makes sense to do from the standpoint of actually improving people's lives.
            Colonizing, or even sending people to mars in the next 100 years doesn't pass that litmus test for me. And while you say it's not being funded by other people, I'd counter by saying

            1. Large private space orgs like SpaceX are entirely funded by the US government right now. If they're persuing mars exploration, it's being funded entirely by the US taxpayer, even if that funding is being initially secured by satellite and ISS launches.
            2. Billonares with pet projects to explore mars are able to persue those projects solely because of massive income inequality; effectively siphoning resources away from the poor to pay for their hobbies. This isn't necessarily their fault, it's the fault of our economic system, but to say that the resources they're spending are entirely their own is a little bit simplistic
              and finally
            3. There is, and has been actual money earmarked to send people to Mars by NASA by the NASA Authorization act of 2010. Their target is to send people to mars in the 2030s.

            What I mean by a Sci-Fi fantasy, is that a lot of the enthusiasm for sending people to mars is solely because people think "wouldn't it be cool to send people to mars???"
            There's not a tangible benefit to sending people to mars. It wouldn't actually help people. There's no desperate need to leave Earth if you really sit down and think about the problem. It's being driven almost entirely by how cool it would be to do. That's now how public policy should be decided.

    2. Nitta Link Parent
      Yeah it's like a fad. Too many things need to be solved to make the journey not boring. The main unsolvable problem is ping. But if the download speed is acceptable, the trip is safe, not longer...

      Yeah it's like a fad. Too many things need to be solved to make the journey not boring. The main unsolvable problem is ping. But if the download speed is acceptable, the trip is safe, not longer than a couple years, with a stock of good canned food, and the best friend agrees to join, then sure.

    3. alyaza Link Parent
      well... won't it always be that way if nobody ever goes or tries to go? the whole idea of sending a manned mission to mars and potentially inhabiting it is to set the foundations for there to...

      There's nothing you can do there that robots can't do, plus there's not much to do anyway. If you like deserts or uninhabitable places there's plenty on earth already, plus you won't get deadly doses of radiations, which is a plus.

      well... won't it always be that way if nobody ever goes or tries to go? the whole idea of sending a manned mission to mars and potentially inhabiting it is to set the foundations for there to eventually be something there (and in any case robots probably can't do literally everything we would want to do on mars).

  10. orangse Link
    Depends on how many people have gone to Mars previously and how long a colony has existed there. In the beginning, probably no way. Not even because it could be a death sentence, I just think at...

    Depends on how many people have gone to Mars previously and how long a colony has existed there. In the beginning, probably no way. Not even because it could be a death sentence, I just think at that point the more interesting work is being done on Earth; Specifically the whole nebulous concept of a 'life support system' in terms of recycling waste, growing food, maintaining oxygen levels, a lot of that engineering would be done beforehand on Earth and a lot of the lessons learned in the early days of a colony would probably be fixed and engineered on Earth.

    I'd probably do so when it's really starting to ramp up; specifically terraforming. I know there's that video of Elon Musk saying the quickest way would be to nuke the poles, but regardless of the methodology I find the whole idea of taming something so hostile intriguing. That would be the best work imo. You're essentially engineering a whole new ecosystem, which feels eerily like a real life Dune in a sense. I won't confirm or deny if that is a major reason why I would go.

    If its post terraforming I'd probably still go, mainly because of climate change and to avoid a lot of the problems that will result on Earth from that. Sure, its selfish, but thats just me.

    1 vote
  11. Juan Link
    I can't see myself ever going to Mars. I would like to help get other people there, but I am too cautious to ever risk it. Between the depressive nature of being stuck inside most if not all of...

    I can't see myself ever going to Mars. I would like to help get other people there, but I am too cautious to ever risk it. Between the depressive nature of being stuck inside most if not all of the day, seeing as the weak atmosphere lets cosmic radiation in, the fact that I would be confined there for a minimum of two years and the fact that almost all materials there want to kill me, I would rather stay comfortable in my house, where all my commodities are, and let the exploring to other people.

    1 vote
  12. Loire Link
    It's been my dream since I was eight. Back then I read some magazine talking about Mars missions being a reality within 20 years. We just passed that 20 year mark. I would happily go and gladly...

    It's been my dream since I was eight. Back then I read some magazine talking about Mars missions being a reality within 20 years. We just passed that 20 year mark.

    I would happily go and gladly partake in back breaking labour to make a colony flourish. I would gladly go on a one way trip. I would gladly go, just to die on the surface of Mars. Colonization won't be a reality in my youth, but if there exists a way of making the transit within my lifetime I will pay any price for that ticket.

    1 vote
  13. [2]
    Gimpy Link
    I always felt like I was born into the wrong age. And explorer at heart, stuck on a planet with almost nowhere left to be the first to go. And what's left of us after we pass, what sort of legacy...

    I always felt like I was born into the wrong age. And explorer at heart, stuck on a planet with almost nowhere left to be the first to go. And what's left of us after we pass, what sort of legacy can one person leave behind in a world choking on 8 billion great apes. I would give anything for a chance to be a pioneer for our first steps into that void regardless of the chances of survival. Death is that only certainty for us all, so death in the pursuit of something so grand would be as great a death as any could ever ask for.

    Sooo... a million times yes, yes please, right now :)

    1 vote
    1. sqew Link Parent
      You might like this short film; your comment reminds me a bit of the feeling I get whenever I watch it.

      You might like this short film; your comment reminds me a bit of the feeling I get whenever I watch it.

  14. lazer Link
    Yes, definitely. I accept that I may not return, but an outer space adventure sounds like a pretty good way to die to me. This is the kind of adventure you have to just decide to do on your own,...

    Yes, definitely. I accept that I may not return, but an outer space adventure sounds like a pretty good way to die to me. This is the kind of adventure you have to just decide to do on your own, my friends and family would not play a big role in this particular decision. The single thing that I'd be concerned about is making sure my two cats are taken care of when I leave, but I know my ex-partner would give them a great home and love them unconditionally so they'd be in good hands.

    1 vote
  15. vakieh Link
    I've thought through my childhood 'I want to be an astronaut' thing, and eventually I came to the conclusion that I like being able to pee in absolute privacy. I also like the ability to sleep in,...

    I've thought through my childhood 'I want to be an astronaut' thing, and eventually I came to the conclusion that I like being able to pee in absolute privacy. I also like the ability to sleep in, to choose what I'm going to do each day, etc etc. Being an astronaut would be AWESOME, but the level of monitoring required breaches what I'm willing to accept even for a 3 month stint on the ISS.

    Living on Mars, with earth-based telemetry about my every fart and camera footage of every little thing I ever do?

    No thanks. I'm a closed-door pee-er.

    1 vote
  16. krg Link
    If I could live somewhat comfortably, then yes. It'd kind of one-up the whole "cabin in the woods" idea of living in isolation. I don't think that'll be feasible in my lifetime, however. So, I...

    If I could live somewhat comfortably, then yes. It'd kind of one-up the whole "cabin in the woods" idea of living in isolation.

    I don't think that'll be feasible in my lifetime, however. So, I think I'll settle for a cabin in the woods. Or...a dwelling in the desert. But definitely not a boat in the bay.

  17. NeoTheFox Link
    The answer is maybe. I have friends and family, and they would hate to see me go, and I would hate to never see them again. But if I would've been absolutely instrumental to the mission, for...

    The answer is maybe. I have friends and family, and they would hate to see me go, and I would hate to never see them again. But if I would've been absolutely instrumental to the mission, for example because of my professional skills - that would be something I probably couldn't deny. But if I'm just one of hundreds of potential colonists then I woudln't say yes to this, at least not to a one way trip.
    Everything changes if the mission is not a one way ticket, because then I'll absolutely go there, even with all the risks attached.

  18. bub Link
    Yes, because it would clear up my existential crises. But is it completely absurd that my most pressing concern is being cut off from the internet? Not even joking. Assuming it were even...

    Yes, because it would clear up my existential crises.

    But is it completely absurd that my most pressing concern is being cut off from the internet? Not even joking.
    Assuming it were even economical to attempt connection to Earth's internet from mars, there would be latency of anywhere between 3 and 20 minutes due to the speed of light and depending on the orbital positions of Earth and Mars. Big oof.

  19. papasquat Link
    Unequivocally no. That sounds like my personal version of hell. No human beings to talk to for millions of miles, completely cut off and alone. Or if I have a small group of people with me, a...

    Unequivocally no. That sounds like my personal version of hell. No human beings to talk to for millions of miles, completely cut off and alone. Or if I have a small group of people with me, a handful of people that I potentially will grow to despise hate being my only company. The smallest mistake is absolutely fatal, and an entire planet is watching me and judging my every move.

    I'd honestly question the mental stability of anyone willing to take that trip.

  20. droll Link
    No, because it would mean spending the rest of my life indoors and probably underground. I like fresh air and weather.

    No, because it would mean spending the rest of my life indoors and probably underground. I like fresh air and weather.