Mars: NASA’s MSL mission getting close/Mars One plans to have humans there by 2023

June 27, 2012

These are both Mars-related stories that popped up across the blogosphere over the past week:

The first bit of news is that NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is getting ever closer to its destination, and the dreaded “Seven Minutes of Terror” entry and landing sequence. They recently produced a video that does a pretty good job of conveying just how hard it is to land anything on Mars, and especially how insane this particular landing sequence is. It’s CRAZY HARD to do what they’re attempting to do. I’ve seen many other animations of this many times over, and it STILL blows my mind just how tedious and difficult this is from a scientific and engineering perspective. Seeing the video is essential, so here it is. Just watch:

The second bit of Mars-related news is a little crazier and far-fetched. A group of private investors are pooling their resources and claim that we can have humans on Mars by 2023. This project is called Mars One, and I have to be honest… the whole thing sounds utterly insane. They want to create such a huge media spectacle that the public interest and avenues for profit are such that they can raise the massive amount of cash it’ll take to make this happen. The craziest part of the whole thing is that it will be a one-way mission for the people who actually go to Mars. I think the ethics of such a thing are mostly subjective- I have no problem with a one-way mission if the people going are truly, honestly 100% dedicated to it. I think it’s honorable, and who am I to judge them for making such a profound decision. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the rest of the Apollo astronauts all knew the extremely high risks involved with what they were doing. They accepted it and went on to accomplish arguably the greatest feat in the history of mankind thus far- walk on the moon. I hope they pull it off, I really do, and without all the oversight and red tape of a government agency like NASA, the likelihood of this happening so soon is greater. But still. 2023 is REALLY REALLY soon to put humans on Mars. Here’s their promo video:

Crazy? Or just crazy enough to make it happen?

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