Tuesday, April 25, 2006





In idle moments I like to imagine ways I might get off the planet in the near-future. So far, none of them are especially probable. One idea that continues to tantalize (despite its fatalistic implications) is convincing NASA to send a one-man "experimental" mission to Mars, ostensibly to study the effects of prolonged microgravity and radiation on human physiology.

The subject? Me, of course.

I'm not asking that much, really. Just a modest capsule with life support and a way of navigating the Martian surface, even if it's just an augmented spacesuit and an inflatable tent. Once on Mars, I could continue sending NASA data on my condition, not to mention carry out geological and exobiological investigations. Given the tools and a minimum of scientific training, I figure my efforts could eclipse those of the current Mars Exploration Rovers within weeks.

The elegance of this mission, from a financial perspective at least, is that I wouldn't necessarily be coming back, sparing mission planners the need for a return vehicle. I'd wander the landscape and keep myself alive and healthy for as long as possible, awaiting eventual relief from a more robust crewed mission. It's quite possible I could "live off the land" indefinitely, giving me enough time to really take in the sights: the soaring slopes of Olympus Mons, the labyrinthine fractures of Valles Marineris, the enigmatic massifs of Cydonia.

Would I miss Earth? Certainly. But probably not enough to conscience coming back until at least a few years of pure, unimpeded exploration; it's not everyday one has an entire planet to oneself.

I hereby volunteer for a one-man "reconnaissance" flight to Mars, fully aware of the risks. How about it, NASA?

14 comments:

W.M. Bear said...

And NASA could probably even spring for resupplying you with cannisters of latte every so often.... ;-)

platts42 said...

Mac=Space Monkey.

Don't forget Lizzie, or would she be the brave S.O. watching from the Widows Walk? Then you could test human sexuality in space, as well as confined coupled dynamics.

On a side note, I think I was telling you this when we met now that I think about it, maybe we can get you into a study where you are isolated for 3 months with random awakenings...which would be cool except for the temp probe in your ass. Anyway, what were we talking about?

RJU said...

Sorry, you cannot be an astronaut. Perfect vision is required.

Mac said...

WMB--

You know, I'd even forego espresso drinks for the chance to go to Mars. That's dedication.

Cap'n--

I've tried to email you the heart-breaking news to no avail. Here goes: "Lizzie" and I are no more. Although I think she'd support my decision to go to Mars.

RJU--

Hey, I can do Lasik!

RJU said...

No, your vision must be perfect and surgery to correct the problem is verboten. Those are NASA rules- same for Air Force pilots.

I too was planning on be an astronaut before I learned about this. There are eye exercises that might help, but so far these methods have not been accepted by the mainstream as being effective. I don't know if they work or not.

...of course, you can always build your own rocket.

Mac said...

RJU--

Well, this won't do at all! I mean, it's discrimination! And I won't stand for it! No, sir! I'm taking this to the *top*, baby! *pounds desk*

JEFM said...

Sounds cool Mac... but I think as a psychologist... there's a "profile" for that type of mission. Humans need other humans, we evolved that way... other than that... I'd be willing to take on a mission like that, just like yourself.

Jon

Mac said...

Humans need other humans, we evolved that way

Damn.

JEFM said...

I say EXACTLY the same thing from time to time...

Jon

magnidude said...

No, your vision must be perfect and surgery to correct the problem is verboten. Those are NASA rules- same for Air Force pilots.

And why is that? Glasses not fitting inside a helmet??

W.M. Bear said...

Here's the solution. Speaking of brain transplants, have yours transplanted into a mechanical rover (ala RoboCop, etc.) And presto! -- Metal Mac reporting for duty. Plus this gets around the glasses AND the life-support problems. Make them give you inflatable wings (or some such) too, then you can follow the Martian seasons so the Sun's always high overhead, giving you plenty of solar power for digging through those xenoarcheological ruins you're sure to locate! (You weren't planning on having any more sex or latte -- not necessarily not in that order -- when you got to Mars anyway, right? ;-)

Mac said...

WMB--

This sounds like the plot for Fred Pohl's "Man Plus." Ever read it?

W.M. Bear said...

Actually, I do seem vaguely to recall reading it (or at least being aware of it) a long, long time ago. Who knows? Maybe I was unconsciously plagiarizing Pohl!

Mac said...

WMB--

I doubt it. I think Pohl had "merely" tapped into biomedical eventuality.