Fostering Public Support
234 Dorland Street, San Francisco CA 94114
Many obstacles block any plan to send humans to mars. In conversations on the subject one often feels the discussion has ended before it has begun. Supporters of a human mission to mars often end up preaching to the choir rather than face the questions of an educated and adamant friend or colleague, let alone a stranger. We need to become comfortable, each of us, with discussing and arguing for a Mars mission.
article focuses on:
* Common arguments against a Mars mission.
* Counter-arguments that foster an open discussion, others likely to alienate prospective enthusiasts.
* The imperative for mars society and other groups to be open and inclusive in their goals for mars.
* Why space exploration during the late 1960Õs counter-culture revolution was essentially doomed and how our time is fundamentally different.
* Why many people feel skeptical about space exploration, roots of that mistrust.
* Ten basic facts about mars everyone should know (a cheat sheet for the masses). Before we can decide on the right plan to motivate the public about Mars, we need to look at why human space exploration ended after the Apollo program; where people lost interest; what it will take to reinvigorate their passion for space exploration, and what brings up such passionate opposition in so many. Some reasons are simple, others complex and unexpected.
ItÕs important that Mars SocietyÕs objectives remain open. That should be easy. ThatÕs a whole planet next door. Yet time and again we hear people publicly discussing plans for mars as if it were only for a specific group. Yes, the initial years will be tough and in some ways analogous to the American West, but as a selling point that idea is not only uninteresting for many, itÕs a real showstopper for some. I donÕt try to sell a human mission to mars to a microbiologist the same way I do to a sculptor. They have different hopes for the future, yet neither dream is wrong or less realizable than the other. Anyone willing to dream about a human presence on Mars, about that next step, should be given a wide latitude for their thought of what it might become. The only agreement needed is that it is possible and worthwhile to start now, but then that is the real battle.
Most people donÕt know the first thing about mars. Its size of climate; its unique place as the only hospitable neighbor in our solar system. They know about ÒWar of the Worlds,Ó not Olympus Mons; about ÒMars Attacks,Ó not Valles Marineris. A little information would go a long way towards helping people understand why itÕs mars and not Venus or the moon that has captured our attention.
IÕve talked with people around the would about my hopes for mars and itÕs future exploration. IÕm thankful to those who were kind enough to tell the overzealous thirty-one year old what thy though of my ideas; those who put the dreamer in his place and made me find them a reason to go. The debate has helped me recognize some of the serious misgivings people have about space travel.
But remember, beneath the apathetic exterior of many skeptics are dreamers who, when their values and hopes can be included and they are shown that this adventure could be unlike any in humankindÕs history, can become as excited about Mars as I am.