What is all the hubbub about ice on Mars? Why should we care? Before answering these questions let me refresh briefly what is going on with the red planet. NASA has landed a robot lander on the planet recently up near the north pole of Mars. Scientists figure that the chances of water being there are better on the north area of the planet. They also have the Mars recon satellite that has taken extensive pictures and other technological wizardry that has shown ice near the pole. After all, ice is frozen water.
The particular lander is different from the Mars rovers in that it has more equipment on board to analyze the soil. It even has an oven to heat the soil for scientific tests. This mission won’t really tell us if life is there, but it could. It is designed to study the soil and see if the components of life exist. That is the key. Certain elements need to be in the soil and traces of minerals and so forth to determine if life could exist now or in the past. Of course, wouldn’t it be nice if the rover turned over a fossil? Now, that would be quite exciting.
All these missions are designed to prepare someday for a manned landing. It seems that people could care unless the human race is at risk, and if man were landing on the planet believe me you would see super high television ratings. Can you imagine a manned mission to this planet. It would take round-trip approximately two years. We would have to launch when Mars was at it’s closest to Earth as there would be a great fuel savings. Astronauts would have to live in a closed environment with fellow comrades and not get in each other’s hair for all this time. Pyschologically it would be rough, but the Russians have already demonstrated living on the space station for over a year. In fact, they hold the world record if I am not mistaken. So, it can be done.
If water is discovered with life producing elements, then it is imperative we go. In fact, it is imperative to go to Mars anyway. The human race is born to explore. It is in our genes. We will stagnate and die if we don’t. So this mission is just another precursor to the day when a manned mission is on the launchpad.
There are those that think spending money to go into space is a waste of time and effort. I couldn’t disagree more, and there are millions more who believe the way I believe. We need new horizons. Science can tell us more about why we are here and what are future could be. The Phoenix Lander is one more piece of the puzzle of this business called life. It has already seduced me.