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Man in Space

  1. Dec 13, 2006 #1

    Integral

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    Why would you want to send men? Why not a hundred more rovers.. They could do a LOT more and better explorations for a fraction of the cost. At this point in time sending men just does not make sense. Perhaps in the distant future, after we have completed exploration of the solar system there may be a reason but currently it is to early to send tourists
     
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  3. Dec 13, 2006 #2
    Are you trying to say that a machine can do better than a man?
    Yes, the costs are a lot lower when a rover is sent, but think that a man could make instant decisions, make steps, and eventually do much more and better instantly. Can a machine dig a hole and serch for water? I mean a really deep hole, not 5 inch. These are very very simple examples but tell a lot :)
     
  4. Dec 13, 2006 #3
    Spirit of exploration. I dont think anyone have a emotional attachment with a rover running around on mars pointing probes at rocks. But putting a man there would be a acomplishment for mankind regardless of he/she can do a better job than the rover. Its alot more inspiring and a bigger challange.

    Do you know armstrong better than LUNA 9?
     
  5. Dec 13, 2006 #4

    russ_watters

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    Yep.
    Why do we care about instant decisions? Getting there requires months or years, so we'll have to wait a while either way for answers. The rovers may only move a few meters a day, but they've been operating for almost 3 years. They've covered a lot of ground and in great detail. And if the scientists monitoring them have to wait a day to further investigate something, it isn't a big deal.

    edit: quick decisions are important for humans primarily because of limitations that robots don't have. They still sleep because they are solar powered, but they do not require food, oxygen, or a tight temperature range for operation. And while humans have the ability to make quick decisions, the time constraints often mean that their actions need to be just as scripted as a robot's in order to get everything done that has been planned.
    Yes, of course a machine can dig a very deep hole. Machines can do pretty much anything a human can and a whole lot humans cannot. The two rovers we have cost several orders of magnitude less than a human would and are far more robust.

    Remember, whatever we send, its purpose is to use tools to collect information. These tools (whether a camera, a drill, or a mass spectrometer) can be used just as well (if not better) by a robot as by a human.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2006
  6. Dec 13, 2006 #5

    russ_watters

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    What is the goal of space exploration? If the goal is glory alone, fine, but if the goal is actual exploration and scientific discovery, shouldn't we use the method most suited for it?

    We can spend half a trillion dollars (not an exaggeration) sending a man to walk on Mars or we can send a fleet of robots at a thousandth of that cost apiece.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2006
  7. Dec 13, 2006 #6

    turbo

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    Those rovers are not acting autonomously. Their activities are are chosen and directed by humans here on earth. We are letting humans explore Mars from the safety of the Earth with remote-control tools. Want better capability? Then send better tools next time - don't send people. It would be horrendously expensive to provide humans with food, water, supplies, etc for such an expedition, not to mention the cost of fuel and the logistics of providing shielding. At the end of the rovers' lives, we can say a fond good-bye to the machines and shut down the ground station. We don't have to provide launch capability to loft them off Mars so they can rendezvous with the orbiting mother ship which then would have to free itself from Mars' gravitational well to return them to Earth. We would have to provide these facilities if we sent humans. We do not have the technology or the money to send men to Mars - at least not if we want the astronauts to survive the project and return home.
     
  8. Dec 13, 2006 #7

    Integral

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    I do not think we have the resourses to waste on sending men into space. We have learned all we need to know about the effects of space on human biology and it is not good. A man in space is USELESS. When men are on a mission in space the entire point of mission is to keep the men alive. Science takes a back seat. I would rather do meaningful, meaty, explorations with remote sensing. The scientists can stay at home, spending nights with their family and days exploring the solar system.
     
  9. Dec 13, 2006 #8

    Integral

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    Well said Russ, you have made my point very well.

    The time for glory is past putting a man in space for glory is simply stupid. We have serious problems here on earth to deal with. It is my contention that we need to put a major effort in to learning to live on earth. Once we have a sustainable environment, and a sorta stable earth wide government we can begin to consider putting men into space. Meanwhile we can continue to roboticaly explore the solar system. Who knows, someday there may be a actual reason for putting man on the moon or mars. Until then any such development needs to be commercial in nature. Let Donald Trump build a resort on the moon, as long as it is private money I am all for it.
     
  10. Dec 13, 2006 #9

    I guess we just dont share the same view on what would be the important part of a future mars mission. To me the knoweledge that we, the human race, overcame the difficulties and landed humans on mars would be worth alot more to me than a rover finding something interesting.

    It would also serves as a inspiration of what we can do just as the apollo mission did. There is prestige in landing a man on mars.

    What will people in 100 years cheerish most, a man landing on mars or a rover landing on mars?
    Will your grandchildren want you to tell them about the time you watched a human taking the first step on another planet or will they want to hear about the landing of spirit and oppertunity?

    That is the big question to me. We can not dismiss the emotional part of such a acomplishment. Glory is sometimes more important than scientific discovery. We should do it because it is a challange that is there for us.

    If we want to wait until we have a peacefull earth then we are going to have to wait until the human race is extinct.
     
  11. Dec 13, 2006 #10
    just playing devils advocate here. But then we have to ask the question. If we dont spend money on sending humans into space. Will that money somehow help the situation on earth or will it go to something just as irrelevant to peace and environment. Like the james webb telescope, the LHC or other big science projects that are done "only" out of academic interest.

    (Just so I dont get missunderstood I understand how imporant for science those 2 above projects are. But for world peace and the environment they are irrelevant.)
     
  12. Dec 13, 2006 #11
    After reading your posts I feel a little more convinced to rovers instead of humans. I have to admit that rovers have more advantages than people. There is always a "but...".
    Let's supose rovers found water underneath the martain surface. Is then sending people on Mars worth a try? I mean that they would be having their water suplies covered by the red planet. All they would need is oxygen, but it isn't hard to extact it from water (elecrolysis). Also plants could grow in an artificial habitat, receiving carbon dioxide from humans, and giving oxygen back. Founding water on Mars could accelerate our space exploration.

    I agree - since we don't have any proof of water flowing on Mars, we don't need to send people there.

    Azael, your point of view has nothing to do with science. You are talking about glory, fame, all these are sociologic issues. Although that doesn't mean that they are bad. Russ and Integral touched the most important thing in this topic, I think. Why should we spend such an inconceivable amount of money when we can do the same by only a fraction of it? As I said, they convinced me. There are more important things to support than sending a man on Mars ... yet.

    PS a half of a trillion is an exaggeration ;)
     
  13. Dec 13, 2006 #12

    I guess if we want to be pragmatic, the avarage joe might be more inclined to support a manned mission with his tax money than a robotic mission. A manned mission would also increase interest for space exploration again and that leads to more money for space exploration....
    I dont think many americans whined about the money spent on the apollo program.

    I think the problem here is that we have to choose. Either manned exploration or science projects. The space organisations should be funded enough to be able to do both.

    I fail to se how spending less on space would mean spending more on important issues on this planet.:confused: Politicians are so unwilling to do anything about the major issues anyway that I doubt a few billion less on space exploration would mean a few billion more on polution controll. It would probably go to some bloated figher jet program anyway.:grumpy:
     
  14. Dec 13, 2006 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    Another point: About two out of three missions to Mars have failed. Anyone willing to go isn't smart enough to qualify!!!

    Interestingly, we could have gone for about the price of the Iraq war [currently about a half trillion]. In fact, before its over, at an estimated min of 2 trillion dollars, we probably could have gone four times.
     
  15. Dec 13, 2006 #14

    D H

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    I think a lot of unmanned space advocates (including those who take that view in this thread) fail to grasp this point. Voters and politicians don't give a hoot about science for science's sake. They want results. What value does the current Cassini-Huygens mission return to the public? I see the value. I doubt if most of the voting public does.

    The unmanned space advocates foresee a future in which the vast sums of money spent on manned space would be redirected to their much-more-valuable unmanned programs. All we have to do is eliminate the astronaut corps. Should that happen, I see a future in which no money is spent on space exploration whatsoever. After all, we have so many pressing problems here on Earth. Why should we spend money on getting pretty pictures from Saturn when people are starving?

    Unfortunately, the space organizations are not funded to do both. NASA receives a pittance of the budget: 15 cents per day per person.

    I'm confused also. Fifteen cents per day per person does not go very far in solving poverty, improving education, ...

    As to whether robots are better than people, imagine the following two scenarios. In one, ground controllers see an anomalous rock on the surface of Mars. They command their robotic probe on Mars to move to the rock and extract a sample. The robot slowly (very slowly!) proceeds to the rock and very slowly drills a sample. An onboard analyzer slowly builds a picture of the contents of the rock. These results are telemetered back to Earth. After days (or weeks or months) of analysis, earth-based scientists declare, "It's volcanic!".

    Now imagine a geologist-astronaut on the surface of Mars. He sees an anomalous rock on the surface. He quickly walks to the rock, picks it up, and after a few seconds of examination declares "It's volcanic!".
     
  16. Dec 13, 2006 #15

    DaveC426913

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    No offense intended but this is a rather naive scenario and has nothing to do with the practical and logistical aspects of research and analysis. It also ignores the very real arguments made in all the preceding posts.

    Just a couple of examples:
    1] For the cost of that probe, we could only send one astronaut's baby toe. How much research do you suppose that baby toe could do?
    2] Note that half of our project funding is going to be poured into getting that baby toe back to Earth.
    3] What is it you think that one astronaut (even one with ten toes, two eyes and a brain), who is primarily trained as an astronaut, could determine about anything, with merely his own eyes, from inside his spacesuit, during the fifteen minutes of his EVA - that a fleet of the world's best geological specialists, with the world's knowldge at their fingertips, in the comfort of their labs, and at their leisure, with microscopic analysis tools, could not determine?
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2006
  17. Dec 13, 2006 #16

    D H

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    I was thinking what a future Harrison Schmitt could do on the surface of Mars. To quote Dr. Schmitt,

     
  18. Dec 13, 2006 #17
    That's a massive budget. It must be about a quarter of what I spend on broadband (estimating conversion rates). Acknowledging the interest that the average person has in NASA's science program, it's amazing. You shouldn't be so arrogant as to deny this amount of money could be of much greater benefit to the poverty stricken than what it is to those curious about Mars. It's enough money to radically improve (and lengthen) the life (and education) of a starving child somewhere. Sure we can debate whether to send humans to mars, but don't hinge your argument on comparing your impatience to someone else's poverty.

    Scientifically, I don't think sending people off-planet right now has as much benefit as, say, sending a good interferometer into space or building acceleraters that might explain the nature of matter. Nonetheless, I'm keen for us to set up long-term colonies beyond Earth, even if it's a mere engineering issue, because I anticipate that's where our future must eventually be.
     
  19. Dec 13, 2006 #18

    LURCH

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    I agree with the goal of colonization. But just from a scientific point of veiw, I am always reminded of a quote I heard after the 2-yr anniversary of Spirit and Opportunity's landing on Mars:

    "... and in that amount of time they have collected as much data as two undergrad geology students would have gathered in a long weekend..."
     
  20. Dec 13, 2006 #19

    D H

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    What conversion rates? That is NASA's budget TODAY. 0.6% of the federal budget, or 15 cents a day.

    I want the name of your broadband provider. That 15 cents a day is half the cost of the cheapest dialup provider.

    That 15 cents a day is a drop in the bucket compared to the vast (far too vast, IMHO) amount spent on poverty. That fifteen cents a day is 0.6% of the federal budget. Spending on poverty is 40 times that or more.

    Where did you think I was being impatient when I said

    I was merely reiterating the views of those who would think the government's main job should be to make life more comfortable for the poor. You just proved my point.

    The American and Russian robotic missions to the Moon collected even less data. The bulk of the data and materials collected on the Moon was done by people sent to the Moon, not by robots. When we can send people to do a job, those people do the job of science a whole lot better than robots. Even if the people doing those jobs are dumb astronauts. (BTW, cosmonauts and astronauts are anything but dumb.)
     
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