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Pros and Cons of a Manned Mission to Mars


Much like the bold journey of Marco Polo and company to the unknown worlds of East Asia, NASA is set to embark upon a 21 month manned mission to the surface of Mars by 2030. With this in mind, there are two rationales that people seem to align with when discussing a manned mission to another planet like Mars.

One side believes that by sending humans to Mars we are completing yet another great technological endeavor while gaining valuable understanding of life. The other rationale is that sending humans to Mars is a fancy feat that will merely appease our natural human curiosity. Simply put, on one hand we have  the opportunity to explore a vast planet of unknown potential, and on the other hand we have a block of fancy cheese made to appease or curious senses.

As a former NASA intern, I wont tell anyone which side to choose, but I will bring different perspectives into one location. The only thing left for you and me  is to choose a side to align with.


1 It’s  dangerous

There are numerous unforeseeable events that can occur en route or on Mars. The major concern would be Space Radiation. Space radiation, usually ionizing radiation, has been shown to cause cancer, cataract formation, or death. NASA is developing materials to diminish incoming radiation and utilize a combination of radioprotectors to limit the effects of ionizing radiation. But sometimes the level of radiation will be to high to safely protect astronauts.

There are also the effects that microgravity have on the human body. Anyone traveling to Mars would need to follow a rigid exercise routine, and proper nutrient intake would be vital to minimize muscle and bone wasting that would occur in microgravity.

2 It cost too much

The cost of a manned mission to Mars would be 20+ billion dollars. That money could be put to better use fighting the rising national debt, infrastructure, education, and many more immediately useful projects.

Robots can do the job

If we send humanoid robots to Mars we can eliminate many of the dangers of space travel. There would be no need to launch food,water, oxygen, or medical supplies in advance. The highly dexterous Robonaut 2 is already being tested for possible missions in low earth orbit and beyond.

4 Lack of Technology

Although NASA is developing a new spacecraft for deep space exploration, the technology to lift the required supplies into space hasn’t been fully developed yet. Upon developing that technology there will be an extended period of time when the astronauts on Mars will not be able to communicate with the Earth because they will be on the far side if the sun. Travel to Mars would be feasible after communications, and heavy lift technologies develop further.

We have bigger problems on Earth

We have many pressing issues like poverty across the globe, uprisings and wars that are tearing African nations apart, and climate change that is becoming more apparent every years. There are hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and severe flooding effecting much of the world. Does the glory of traveling to Mars really deserve to continue in spite of the other issues here on Earth?



1 Discover new forms of life

There have been many instances where we believed there were signs of life on Mars.

  • The face seen in photographs of the surface of Mars
  • Discovery of Ice water on Mars
  • Possible Discovery of Flowing Water by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

The best way to confirm the presence of water, which is a key precursor for life, is to send humans to Mars.


2 Valuable Natural Resources

Mars has several elements that are the raw materials that could be harvested and utilized to support and expand human exploration of Mars and beyond. We could essentially gather materials, construct space vehicles, and launch to other planetary bodies from the surface of Mars without wasting time and resources here on Earth. For example, Methane, which is found in high abundance on Mars, could be used to construct plastic based structures


3 Pushing the limits of our technological capabilities

Many of the advancements we have today were the byproducts of not-so-favorable undertakings. Although the missions carried out by NASA since Alan Shepard first went into orbit may not seem important right now, you can thank NASA for:


4 Safety Planet in case we destroy this one

Some day the global population may not be able to survive off the resources here on Earth. We also have a large global stockpile of nuclear weapons that could destroy the planet multiple times.

Then there is threat of asteroids hitting the planet and causing a worldwide catastrophe. This may seem like complete science fiction, but according to a press release by the Near Earth Tracking Project “An asteroid large enough to wipe out France hurtled past the Earth at a distance of a half-million miles just days after scientists spotted it. The asteroid, dubbed 2001 YB5, came within 520,000 miles of Earth on Monday, approximately twice the distance of the moon. “. That asteroid could have caused a global catastrophe and there was very little we could have done to change that.

A user posted an interesting scenario in a comment on one of NASA’s blogs proposing that the lost civilization of Atlantis could have possibly been on Mars, therefore we have already destroyed one perfectly suitable planet in the past. While this is unlikely, it is an interesting allusion of how advanced human civilizations have disappeared in the past.

5 Stepping stone for exploring the universe

For NASA to be relevant to the needs of society they must constantly be making advancements that “amaze” the average citizen. Nobody wants to see that the pinnacle of NASA’s capability stops at orbiting the Earth. After all who else is going to inspire the future generations of engineers to dream the unimaginable. The longer NASA waits to embark on this bold journey, the more likely someone else will beat them there…



In the 13th century Marco Polo  embarked on a bold journey with his father and uncle to the unknown worlds of central and East Asia. While Marco Polo and company did discover advanced societies which possessed  knowledge greater than their own, all they brought back from their adventure were descriptions of how other societies used paper money, and the taste of noodles. Is a trip to Mars a Marco Polo type endeavor where we bring a few goodies back to earth, or a Christopher Columbus expedition where a new frontier to exploring the unknown may be opened again?


Don’t rely on me alone. This is where I found some of my information.


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  1. I am was searching for a good pro-con website for my report and this is the only one so far, and has the best points. I think I just contredicted myself there. Oh well. Anyhoo, these ar really good reasons to go to Mars and not to go to Mars. I just wish that there was more pro-con reasons.

  2. Thank you. I tried to make the biggest list I could find support for, but Im pretty sure you could expand each point into a decent sized report. Best wishes on the report,

  3. At my school, they took this article and didn’t even out where they got it from…

  4. *say*

  5. Fascinating. The notion of allowing humanoid robots to do the job for us is, veritably, the most sensible way of satisfying our curiosity. It really is outrageously astonishing and horrifying to realize that humans are playing God, but then again, this point will be greatly disdained by the many atheistic participants and prospective settlers on Mars. There are numerous factors to consider, and potential scenarios to conjure amidst our incogitable imagination travelling at warp speed- suffice to write a good sci fi book, but…it really is occurring and in the interim I will reserve my expostulations and as a proud earthling focus on neither the positive ramifications nor the inanities of the project in question, but expend my energy on ameliorating our own
    gloriously ineffable planet, as we, the spectators, and reluctant, sentimentalistic humans, sit back and watch the guinea pigs run the oxidised-ironed-surface of Mars.

  6. I totally loved this article on the pros and cons of planning a mission to Mars.