Should NASA send another rover to Mars?

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Over the recent past, our nation’s space agency has successfully been able to land rovers on Mars, all in an effort to better understand the planet where we intend to send humans.

Not everyone would agree that these missions were the best use of federal funds, especially when our current space program doesn’t provide rides to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.

But when the long-term goal of sending humans to the red planet is taken into consideration, these missions are more important than ever, not just for a better understanding of our surroundings, but economically as well.

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And while the missions so far have been able to provide evidence of the existence of water at some point in the history of the planet, liquid water has yet to be found.

If we intend to make this planet habitable, then proving the existence of liquid water would make that process that much easier.

Recently, NASA has shared plans to send another rover to Mars by 2020, this time with the intent of collecting samples that would eventually be brought back to Earth.

There are some

problems, however. Without a current plan to actually bring that material back to Earth, it’s like putting the cart before the horse, as the old saying goes.

If for some reason we are able to send humans to Mars in the next 20 to 30 years, that might make retrieving those samples feasible, but at the same time counterintuitive since the results couldn’t be used in the planning process to get there in the first place.

Regardless of what NASA ultimately comes up with, it is our hope that the extra missions will benefit our nearby rocket testing facility.

There are a number of test stands waiting on rockets at Stennis Space Center. Any one of them could be modified to test them, and thereby provide high paying jobs.