Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Future of flagship Mars mission up in the air

Will NASA's flagship mission to Mars fly next year? The space agency could decide as early as Friday whether to cancel, delay or proceed with plans to launch a nuclear-powered, SUV-size rover to the red planet.

NASA has already sunk $1.5 billion into the Mars Science Laboratory, which is pricier than expected. The mega-rover will roam the surface and drill into rocks for clues to whether the planet ever possessed an environment capable of supporting primitive life.

We already know Mars was (and quite possibly still is) capable of supporting life. The next step is to find that life, which JPL has no detectable interest in doing.

[. . .]

"We've got to continue our exploration of Mars, but in a way that's rational and sensible," said Frances Bagenal of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Oh, really? Then funnel the money currently being wasted on next-gen rovers and orbiters into manned exploration.

No comments: