Missions to Mars

Here’s an interesting article about scientists proposing one-way Mars trips. I was most struck by this point: They argue that it would be little different from early settlers to North America, who left Europe with little expectation of return.

As I mentioned in a previous post — sign me up. Especially if, as discussed in the article, the Marstronauts might logically be folks near the ends of their lives anyway. But most Spectacle readers weren’t willing to come with me, ha!

The settler analogy got me thinking, though. Historically, most settlers were leaving the old for the new in the hope of something better, not for something known to be, well, worse. But not all settlers in history have been voluntary, either. Australia was a penal colony, and not the only one. There have been sci-fi stories about penal colonies on other planets, asteriods, etc. What if we gave lifers a choice? Or no choice at all?

One the one hand, we might not want a whole planet full of criminals, malcontents, or social misfits.

On the other, Australia turned out all right.

Or is an escape hatch to another planet a bad idea… because it will give us less motivation to protect the planet we have?

— Joni, who is on a space kick lately, probably because she wants to revise her sci-fi YA and has been too busy with other things instead

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Filed under Joni Sensel

7 responses to “Missions to Mars

  1. I clicked on the link and the article wasn’t there. After doing a search, I was able to find what I think is the article you refer to here: http://blog.seattlepi.com/aerospace/archives/225279.asp

    It sounds fascinating, but, in order to sustain life there, younger people would need to go too. Like the article said, I’m not sure how many younger people would be willing to go . . . and not only younger people, but couples who’d be willing to have kids and raise them there in order for it to work (like the early settlers who came to North America).

    While a part of me would love to pack up my family and head out there, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to start from scratch. I’ve become too used to my technology. I’d miss my computer, writing, talking on the phone, having electricity, running water from my sink, my pets (doubt they’d make the trip), and my extended family . . . yeah, I think I’m just too spoiled!

    It’s an interesting concept and I say let those who want to volunteer go for it! I just hope they find a way of communicating with us so we know how it’s going. Hope you get a chance to revise your YA sci-fi soon. =)


    • Ooh, you’re right Joan, thanks! I fixed the link — I guess they moved it to archives since I first created the post. (That’s what I get for scheduling ahead.)

      And I suspect we’re ALL too spoiled, compared to settlers of yore, to want to face those kinds of hardships and risks. Still…

  2. Very cool, Joni.
    Mars makes a small appearance (a mention, really) in my dystopian YA. Let’s just say this is along the same lines… but in this case we “use” Mars from afar (among other planets) after Earth’s soil won’t grow crops anymore. Agricultural imperialism – could happen, I guess!
    This is a sweet find, Joni. Thank you!

  3. Parker Peevyhouse

    This puts me in mind of Heinlein’s THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, in which the moon is one big penal colony where the prisoners are in revolt. Seems like Mars is far enough away that we could send prisoners out there and not worry about them coming back… but it also seems like a big waste of money considering all the technology you would need to keep people alive on Mars.

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