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Should we invest in Mars Exploration

  1. Apr 6, 2017 #1
    I want to ask for your thoughts about mars exploration in the current time we live in. Why do you personally think we should or should not strive to put money, time, and effort to send an astronaut to mars?

    My thoughts about this topic are how we should put forth our current developments and push to go to mars.That might mean an addition to taxes, which those people who aren't in favor of it, will spend more money towards funding space organizations like Mars One, SpaceX, and NASA (if you're living in U.S. territory). The fact of the matter is, some people don't believe in "climate change" and whether you're one of them or not, there's been ideas about how mars can help us predict what can happen to Earth in the long distance future. If you look at mars, there are polar ice caps on the north and south region, with many scientists predicting the extinction of the ocean on mars. So to reiterate my question, do you think mars is a good idea in our day in age? Or are there enough problems here on earth?
     
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  3. Apr 6, 2017 #2

    phinds

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    There have been several long threads on this here on PF. I suggest you do a forum search and join one of those instead of starting yet another one.
     
  4. Apr 6, 2017 #3

    mfb

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    Those people demonstrated already that they don't care about scientific results, I don't see how more scientific results would change that. But let's keep that out the thread.

    Spending money on space exploration helps solving problems on Earth. NASA has an ROI of about 10 - for every dollar you put in, you get 10 dollars out. In addition, we also learn more about the universe. I'm totally for increasing research budgets, that includes human spaceflight.

    We had a long thread about manned Mars flights a while ago.
     
  5. Apr 6, 2017 #4
    I've looked at those threads. None of them share my current questions/thoughts, unless you can show me a thread, it's probably too old to be accounted for by now.
     
  6. Apr 6, 2017 #5
    Exploration, yes, and I'm sure a multi-national plan would be most effective,
    (though there does already exist some amount of co-operation between the various space agencies.)
    Fantastical notions of establishing a permanent human presence there and engineering the planet to be more Earth-like, .No.
     
  7. Apr 7, 2017 #6

    russ_watters

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    IMO our money would be better spent elsewhere.
     
  8. Apr 7, 2017 #7

    russ_watters

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    Assuming for the sake of argument that I buy the claim at all (I think Apple and Xerox might object to being left out of the conversation about where the computer mouse came from), saying that NASA over its history has had an ROI of 10 doesn't imply a particular ROI for any particular program.

    Maybe more to the point, some of the most important things we spend our money on don't have or don't need to have a financial payback. And yes, that even includes other avenues of scientific research spending.
     
  9. Apr 7, 2017 #8

    PeroK

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    Logically, however, that relationship cannot go on indefinitely. There must be a point beyond which the ROI would fall away. Otherwise, we could put all our money into space research and sit back!

    Also, I just don't believe those figures. I spent a lot of my working life on government IT projects and the figures often looked like that: massive, improbable ROI. It's only when you get out into the real commerical world with real profit and loss that you can talk about ROI.

    In fact, unless NASA is selling products and generating a nett revenue for the US Government, it is dangerous to assume there is a nett ROI. Effectively, you are taking credit for someone else's profits - which is not valid accounting.
     
  10. Apr 7, 2017 #9

    mfb

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    Of course not. It can be lower or higher. I don't see a reason to expect a lower than average ROI for a manned Mars mission, and we have a safety factor of 10.
    Sure. But we are far away from that point.
    If you can show that this profit wouldn't exist without you? If NASA would be a company, they would get money for it. They are not, luckily, making research results public shouldn't be seen as negative feature.

    Research is what changes our world. And no matter which metric you are looking at - it changes it to a world where life quality is improving rapidly, nearly everywhere nearly all the time in nearly all aspects. Fundamental research is a critical part of the overall research effort. Even if we don't see an application today, it might revolutionize the future, and we have to explore it to see what will get interesting. History is full of examples of "useless" research that is now a billion to trillion dollar industry.
    If we would only improve existing technologies a bit, without investing in research beyond the existing technology, we would have the best stone tools ever today.
     
  11. Apr 7, 2017 #10

    PeroK

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    Why isn't NASA self funding? They license these products. They must get some revenue from them.

    Your looking at an equation that is roughly ROI = revenue - R&D. The reality is ROI = revenue - R&D - implementation costs - running costs - things that make a loss.

    This last point is where governments usually fall down when they dip their toes in the commercial sector. They think they are profitable if the successful projects are profitable. But, you are only profitable once you include all the failures.

    Nobody is saying we shouldn't invest, but expecting to get a 10:1 ROI from every $1 you spend (without having to analyse what you're investing in) is not valid.

    The argument that NASA would be the most profitable company in the world if only the US government would let it make money is not valid in my opinion.
     
  12. Apr 7, 2017 #11

    mfb

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    Who gets money for developing quantum mechanics? Who gets money for developing transistors, and so on? Who is paying NASA or the Soviet Union for figuring out how to get to space in general, and for all the experienced engineers emerging from their space programs leading to ROI elsewhere? You cannot and should not try to license everything. That would let NASA focus on short-term projects, and stall development in the long run.
    I don't say that. The ROI NASA is leading to is something a company could only collect in small parts. It is too distributed.
     
  13. Apr 7, 2017 #12

    PeroK

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    On the original point. If, say, the German government (or the EU) went full-steam ahead on a project to send a manned mission to Mars, then it could prove to be a real benefit to the EU in terms of spin-off technologies; or, it could prove to be financially ruinous. No one knows for sure.
     
  14. Apr 7, 2017 #13

    russ_watters

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    I do; technical innovation does not scale linearly with project size or even require project completion. Once you've designed a cargo transport, you don't get any more technical innovation by launching four than by launching one. Heck, you don't even really need to launch any!
     
  15. Apr 7, 2017 #14
    The Congress has passed and the President has signed the - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017> This law directs NASA to deliver a plan to put a human mission in an orbit around or on the surface of Mars by the 2030's. See Subtitle C, Both Elon Musk of Space X and Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin have more ambitious plans to get to Mars. I think this answers the OP question.

    Let the game begin.
     
  16. Apr 7, 2017 #15
    Is that a tricky question? Of course we need to invest in mars exploration. Not for the benefit of the Earth, but for the benefit of Humanity.
    The fact that Earth has lots of problems just supports my position: we have to make something in order to leave that inevitable dependence to the Earth.
     
  17. Apr 7, 2017 #16

    mfb

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    The project is too big for Germany alone, and probably too big for the EU as well. The EU doesn't even have a manned spaceflight program at the moment.
    For an international collaboration: I'm quite sure it would be worth it in the long run.
    You still learn something about the spacecraft from sending it to Mars. And you learn a lot about Mars.
     
  18. Apr 7, 2017 #17
    Going to Mars is not about ROI Its about the nature of humans to explore beyond the next hill, mountain, ocean, continent. We are not made to sit around and contemplate the whichness of what.
     
  19. Apr 7, 2017 #18

    jack action

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    Personally, I'm all for the exploration of Mars - or space in general for that matter - but I think manned missions are a waste of money.
     
  20. Apr 8, 2017 #19
    I never understood exactly how this was a question. Who doesn't have the desire to discover and seek out things that are unknown? Exploration in the physical world is the direct analog of education in the academic world. While some may learn only as a means to an end, I think for many the learning itself is the reason to engage in it. So too with exploration. I think we can argue for numerous benefits of space exploration, but ultimately the endeavor itself is in my opinion worthy in and of itself. If we frame the question as a mutual exclusion against some other topic then there might be some debate to be had. But should we, in a vacuum, invest in Mars exploration? I really don't see how this is a question.

    Fortunately it's looking that private enterprise is taking the lead in space meaning government ineptitude, politicking, and extreme risk aversion will no longer stand in the way of progress.
     
  21. Apr 8, 2017 #20

    mheslep

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    Im not sure how that helps without further direction. NASA came up with a Mars mission plan a couple decades ago, IIRC, $300B (probably $500B today's dollars), and twenty or thirty years to execute. Congress said no thanks.
     
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