Why Mars ?
Outside of the Earth-Moon system, Mars is the most hospitable body in the solar system for humans and is currently the only real candidate for future human exploration and colonization. Mars offers the opportunity for in-situ resource utilization providing air for the astronauts to breathe and fuel for their surface rovers and return vehicle (this will be discussed in further detail later). Mercury is far too close to the Sun (radiation and temperature extremes) and has almost no atmosphere, Venus is far too hot (avg. 500oC) and the surface pressures are extreme, the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) do not provide a surface on which to land (at least until the pressure is far too great!), and Pluto is far too cold and distant. Some of the moons of Jupiter (eg. Europa) and Saturn (eg. Titan) are interesting targets in the search for life elsewhere in the solar system, but they are much farther away and far more inhospitable than Mars.
In August of 1992, a "Why Mars" workshop was held in Houston, Texas. Six major elements behind the motivation for human Mars exploration were introduced by a consultant team consisting of 16 professionals from across the country...
1) Human Evolution - Mars is the next logical step in the expansion of the human race into the stars.
2) Comparative Planetology - by understanding Mars and its evolution as a planet, a better understanding of Earth will be achieved.
3) International Cooperation - an international Mars exploration effort has the potential to bring about a sense of global unity as never seen before.
4) Technological Advancement - the development of new and improved technologies for the Mars mission will enhance the lives of those on Earth while encouraging high-tech industry.
5) Inspiration - the human Mars exploration mission will test our technological abilities to their maximum. The ingenuity of the mobilized populace will be tested and our accomplishments will serve to inspire future generations. A common focus will unite people from around the world as they expand the envelope of achievability.
6) Investment - the cost of a crewed Mars exploration mission is reasonable when compared with the costs of other current societal expenditures.
Mission Objectives and Profiles - objectives, risk evaluation, trajectories, travel/stay times, split mission strategy
Launching the Mission - propulsion, launch schedule, launch payloads
Landing on the Martian Surface - entry & landing, surface equipment, surface operations
Surface Systems - power, return propellant production, surface life support
Return to Earth - ascent from the Mars surface, Earth Return Vehicle
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