Friday, December 26, 2003

Ground Control to Major Tom...

It's beginning to look a lot like the Beagle landed incognito. The Mars lander, from Europe, supposedly landed on the Red Planet on Christmas day, but all efforts to make contact with it have failed. With each passing hour, hopes are starting to fade that contact will be made with the probe. We should not be surprised. Of all the missions to Mars over the last 40 years over two-thirds have failed for one reason or another. Why? The answer that sells books is that aliens are preventing us from researching Mars. The answer that makes sense is that space travel is incredibly difficult and dangerous. Think of that when you hear proposals for manned missions to Mars. We aren't talking about flying solo across the Atlantic nor are we even talking about landing on the Moon. Although immensely less glamorous, robotic flights to planets within our solar system are much more cost efficient than manned space flights. Ideas of "The Final Frontier" aside, we need to face up to reality, and not the fictional dreams of Star Trek.

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