On Aug. 10, Philly Post published “We Should Be Packing Our Bags for Mars Right Now” by Larry Atkins, Adjunct Professor of Journalism. The article follows the landing of Curiosity, the $2.5 billion Mars rover, and speculates about sending humans to the Red Planet in the future.
Despite the risks, there are many reasons we shouldn’t wait to start seriously planning manned Mars missions, ranging from improved technology to a boost in the economy through engineering, manufacturing, and scientific-related, high-tech jobs. For instance, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has transferred more than 8,000 new technologies to commercial application, employs 5,400 people, and pumps $232 million into the local San Gabriel Valley economy. According to CNNMoney, NASA spokesman Guy Webster said that the Curiosity rover has supported and generated more than 7,000 jobs at NASA as well as many private companies, including Lockheed Martin.
However, the biggest reasons to send humans to Mars are inspiration, a thirst for knowledge, curiosity, and a foothold on our future. Exploration and curiosity is part of our collective DNA and goes back several millennia. Mars represents our backup plan for the survival of our species in case natural or man-made disasters threaten the Earth. This is the time for giant leaps for mankind, not small steps.