By Dr. Robert Zubrin, Mars Society President, Scientific American, 03.25.21
The triumphant landing of the Perseverance rover has inspired all Americans, and indeed much of the world. President Biden should follow it up by launching a program to send humans to Mars.
While robotic rovers are wonderful, they cannot resolve the fundamental scientific question that Mars poses to humanity, which relate to the potential prevalence and diversity of life in the universe. The early Mars was very much like the early Earth; a rocky, warm and wet planet with a carbon dioxide–dominated atmosphere. Life appeared on Earth virtually as soon as our planet was cool enough for liquid water. Did it appear on Mars too? If so, did it use the same DNA-RNA information system underlying all life on Earth, or something else? We now know that billions of stars have planets. Is life likely to found everywhere? Is life as we know it on Earth what life is, or is it just a particular example drawn for a vast tapestry of possibilities?
These are questions that thinking men and women have wondered about for thousands of years. They can only be resolved by sending humans.
Finding evidence of past ...