Why we shouldn’t wait to go to Mars

Editor’s note: Robert Zubrin, an astronautical engineer, is president of The Mars Society and author of “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must,” recently updated and republished by Simon & Schuster.

In the opinion piece “Mars can wait. Oceans can’t,” published recently on CNN.com, Amitai Etzioni says that we should defer Mars exploration because the seas have a higher priority. While I have the highest regard for ocean exploration, the fact of the matter is that there are numerous agencies – including the U.S. Navy, the navies of other countries, academic institutions, research organizations, corporations and James Cameron personally – that are more than adequately financed and equipped to carry it out.

The idea that we need to suspend space exploration in order to provide the necessary resources to probe the oceans is categorically absurd. So let’s call it like it is: The argument that we should explore the oceans instead of space is not a call to search the seas, but simply a disingenuous way to give up our effort to reach the Red Planet.

But why should we try? There are three reasons.

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March Meeting Minutes

Yes, a bit late, but here are the March meeting minutes.

We had 8 in attendance, including Donna dropping in to give an update on the debate team’s progress. They sound like they are doing well and more than holding their own in the back and forth in the tough final written rounds. We should hear the results from the final oral arguments in NYC in the next meeting!

We were all saddened to hear of Roger Carr’s passing a few weeks ago, and the society chapter agreed to donate $200 of the chapter’s funds to the National Mars Society in his memory at the next convention. we will miss Roger in Pasadena.

We discussed preparations for a variety of upcoming events, including Tom’s search for a rover for moon day, possibly getting a Mars globe for our table, and Tom showed us some first class draft posters he made. This will draw attention to our table, and we can use it in other locations (like our monthly meetings!), outreach events, and the T-shirt table at the national convention!. We agreed to use $100 of chapter funds towards a display stand, with Tom agreeing to cover any charges above that (thanks Tom!).

Mark has been working with Tom to refine the poster image, and we hope to have a final version for the next meeting.

Other upcoming events include supporting the University Rover Challenge at MDRS in late May – it looks like Kurt and Kris are going to take the plunge and go – a first to MDRS for both of us. Kurt was gearing up for his annual talk to the gifted students program at SMU, and we discussed T-shirt designs.

We’ll hear progress on these fronts and more at next month’s meeting! We will gather together next week on Sunday, April 29 at the Spaghetti Warehouse on rt 75 and 15th street in Plano at 6:30. same time – same same place!

We hope to have a final version of our display poster, and discuss other preparations for our Moon Day display, such as a rover!

Also we should get a final report on the local debate team’s performance in the NYC finals from Tom.

Kris and Kurt have committed to going to support the annual University Rover Competition at the MDRS hab in Hanksville, Utah in late May (but after our May meeting).

Kurt will give a outbrief of the talk at the SMU gifted boys program for 7th graders (my talk on Mars – it went very well, and had over 60 students in one session).

We also need to start on T-shirt designs and orders in earnest….

Mars continues to be in the news, or rather the threat to the entire Mars exploration budget for the next several years. NASA looks to be trying to push any new starts in Mars exploration out to beyond 2018, but the fight continues in congress. I’m sure we’ll hear more from Bob at the convention. In the meantime MSL continues its travel to Mars flawlessly, and MAVEN – the next and last planned US Mars mission – an orbiter looking at Mars’s atmosphere, is preparing for a 2013 launch.

The sign up for the Pasadena conference is open – I hope we can have a big turnout to see MSL land! This will be the biggest Mars event for many a year – i am looking forward to savoring it.


ZUBRIN: Obama shoots down Mars exploration

Space community outraged as real missions are replaced by simulated science

In its budget submitted to Congress Feb. 13, the Obama administration zeroed out funding for NASA’s future Mars exploration missions. The Mars Science Lab Curiosity is en route to the red planet, and the nearly completed small Maven orbiter, scheduled for launch in 2013, will be sent, but that’s it. No funding has been provided for the Mars probes planned as joint missions with the Europeans for 2016 and 2018, and nothing after that is funded, either. This poses a crisis for the American space program.

Continue Reading at Washington Times

Donation in Memory of Roger Carr


At our last chapter meeting, on March 25, we agreed to donate $200 from chapter funds in a donation in Roger’s name to the National Mars Society.  We will give a check from our account to National during the fund raiser and dinner banquet at the next national convention in Pasadena this year.

For those who wish to donate towards this gift, you can give money to our account by giving them to Dan, our treasurer.  If the amount given for this purpose exceeds $200 then we will give the total given to National.  (Note that money given to our chapter is not tax deductible as we are not a registered charity.  Donations given directly to the Mars Society are of course deductible.  Please e-mail me directly if you want more details.)