January 9th, 2004


Mars Once Again.

i've actually never believed that settling down to live on mars seemed like a good idea, or, even, plausible. i dig the photos that i've been linking, but lets face it: it's a big fucking ball of stone and dirt and seems pretty inhospitable, and there are no bloody aliens popping up and waving into the camera of the probe.

in my friends list today, however, i found these two things about the subject, which sort of go together, so i offer them up here.


"President George W Bush will announce proposals next week to send Americans to Mars, and back to the moon, senior US officials say.

Sources say George W Bush will encourage scientists to prepare for the mission in a decade's time, allowing the costs to be spread over a number of years.

The last time the US had men on the moon was more than 30 years ago.

As the moon is just three days away, while Mars is at least six months away, it is thought the former could become a testing ground for space equipment. "

and then, i read this, found on warren ellis' blog, which took me to a long question and answer with bruce sterling. mostly, sterling doesn't interest me much, but the quote caught my attention:

"I'll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people setting the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live. It's ugly, it's inhospitable and there's no way to make it pay. Mars is just the same, really. We just romanticize it because it's so hard to reach.

On the other hand, there might really be some way to make living in the Gobi Desert pay. And if that were the case, and you really had communities making a nice cheerful go of daily life on arid, freezing, barren rock and sand, then a cultural transfer to Mars might make a certain sense.

If there were a society with enough technical power to terraform Mars, they would certainly do it. On the other hand. by the time they got around to messing with Mars, they would have been using all that power to transform *themselves.* So by the time they got there and started rebuilding the Martian atmosphere wholesale, they wouldn't look or act a whole lot like Hollywood extras."

which i thought was interesting.