April 6th, 2005

Next Stop, MARS The Scientist

This past year President Bush announced a plan for space exploration that includes preparing for a human mission to Mars. Although the initiative is new, detailed plans for sending people to Mars have existed for decades. In the 1950’s, Werner Von Braun outlined a comprehensive plan for Mars travel. At Apollo 11’s launch in 1969, Vice President Spiro Agnew proposed Mars as the next goal for NASA. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush called for an extensive program of Moon and Mars explorations. And in the 1990’s, author and engineer Robert Zubrin offered a simple and direct plan for Mars exploration. But reaching Mars within a reasonable time-frame will require more than plans; it will require vision: NASA must distinguish the problems that require new and imaginative research from those that can be solved using existing knowledge.

February 20th, 2004

Mars Express works in shadows The Scientist

While NASA’s twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, garner all the headlines, the European Space Agency’s satellite, Mars Express, is poised to deliver just as much science, including important clues in the hunt for Martian life, at a far lower price. NASA spent more than $800 million on its project, while Mars Express cost a mere

May 1st, 2000

Mars in 2018: Travel Light The Scientist

The word astronomical aptly describes current price estimates for a manned jaunt to Mars: $40,000 per pound. “That’s an expensive can of Coke” for astronauts making the trip, says Brian Sauser of NASA’s New Jersey Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT). So NSCORT’s mission is not to figure out how to ship food, air, and energy to Mars, but to create and re-create it up there.