Friday, July 01, 2011

Is Settling Mars Inevitable, Or An Impossibility?

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're not going to the planet Mars anytime soon. President Obama suggested something like the mid-2030s as a target date, but for various reasons - the dangers of space travel, the price tag, more pressing problems on this planet - that trip to the Red Planet has been put on indefinite hold.

My next guest says that's a mistake. We can and should be able to make the trip by 2020, and he says that technology - technologically speaking, we're already closer to being able to send astronauts to Mars than we were to sending men to the moon back in 1961, when President Kennedy made his pronouncement.

But what about all the obstacles: radiation, length of the trip, the lack of gravity during the voyage and all the potential hazards to the astronauts? Robert Zubrin has solutions to every one of these problems, and he's not just thinking about exploratory scientific field trips, he envisions human colonies growing crops in Martian soil, making energy from the atmosphere, even evolving new cultures and dialects.

So what do you think? Would you volunteer as a colonist from Mars? Or are you happy to let NASA's Rovers, the robots, explore the Red Planet? Give us a call. Our number is 1-800-989-8255, 1-800-989-TALK. You can tweet us @scifri, @-S-C-I-F-R-I. Or you can go to our Facebook page or our website. Our home page is

Robert Zubrin is the author of "The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must." He's also president of the Mars Society based in Golden, Colorado. He joins us from the studios of Colorado Public Radio. Welcome back to SCIENCE FRIDAY, Dr. Zubrin.

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