Why we abandoned space exploration in favor of dwelling in dark ages?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Plazma Inferno!, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Mod Hat ― Vigilance and pedantry

    I have received a complaint of "racism" that I cannot generally sustain under any pretense of -ism.

    Here's the problem: I can construe a thin veneer of offense if I pedantically pick out a failure to capitalize a word in a commonly-used phrase that is the English-language identifier by which a group wishes to be known.

    Or I can just read the phrase and know what the member means because there really isn't any question.

    In either case, I apparently need to offer a note about pedantry; a good number of the complaints we receive are problematic for various reasons, including vicious hair-splitting.

    To be fair, though, I also would need to offer a note about vigilance, that people should now expect to be held accountable for every typographical error, including failure to capitalize a word.

    Or perhaps I might skip it entirely, because, really, this is a Mod Hat about what is, at worst, a typographical error that requires precise parsing in order to construct a thin complaint.

    Thus I'll shut up, now, and leave it to the community to figure out how they wish to be held accountable for what they post, and that will actually help us resolve this subset of complaints, when they arise, quickly, efficiently, and consistently.

    Thank you.
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yes, let's.

    This is a thread about space exploration, not a soapbox for personal views on religion and politics.

    Can we stay on track?
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I have long advocated, no manned deep space expenses - instruments do any thing worth doing for less than 1/10 the cost. We need to be more concerned about keeping Earth an inhabital planet than about other rocks orbiting the sun. We need more Moslems like Abou Ben Adhem:

    Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
    Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
    An angel writing in a book of gold:—
    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
    And to the presence in the room he said,
    "What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord,
    Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
    "And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
    Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
    Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

    The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
    It came again with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
    And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

    Although this poem was written by an English man, it reflects what is common and good in the Arab cultures. Remember, when Europeans were in the dark ages, wipping their asses with leaves, the Arab world had paper and kept the knowlege developed by the early Greeks and Romans alive. If you want a great poem, written in 1120 by a Persian poet, mathematician, and astronomer, read The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, written in 1120. It is so good that Edward FitzGerald, translated it into English at least three times over a period of years, but none equaled the beauty and truth of the original. (In his view, but he did not think that could be captured in English, so gave up trying.)

    I memorized both when younger and can still give a quasi-correct rendition.

    SUMMARY: I hope we abandoned the manned exploration of space because we realized the concerns expressed in these two poems for living an enjoyable and helpful life are much more important than space technology.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  8. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    The Cold War was cheap compared to the cost of prolonged conflicts in the Middle East. For as long as war in the Middle East and exported terrorism from there continues, I don't think we can count on any government being able to finance what a mission to Mars would cost. Fear has supplanted courage in the 21st century, and that's a shame.

    But I liked the 1990s video about how to do a Mars mission most efficiently. I especially liked that there was planning for returning them to Earth, a feature that some mission ideas seem all too willing to eliminate, along with whatever dispensable astronauts volunteer for such a mission. The singularity university piece (Kurzweil's thing) about asteroid mining is also interesting.

    We haven't been so callous about wasting life on space missions since the Cold War days in which dogs and chimps were sacrificed to advance space travel. A Mars mission running out of life support will mean these people will be communicating with their last labored breaths. I doubt this will be good PR for future missions.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    One thing manned missions can do that robots can't is react on the fly to situations or findings the robot is unused to or not programmed for.
    They can also do things far quicker and in greater volume than anything robots can do.
    It took Mars Rover Opportunity 7 years to travel 30 km, which is actually 50 times what was originally planned.

    Yes, humans cost a lot to transport and keep alive in such an isolated hostile environment, but they can likely do in 6 months there what it would take 10, 20, 100, or more unmanned missions to achieve, many times quicker, and in doing so we would push the boundaries of our technology further out, possibly creating a wealth of tech as a by-product that would benefit us here on earth.

    It is not so much the money or the mission objectives itself that might be important but simply the focused effort on such a grand adventure.
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Ah, but the joy of statistics is that when you look at "deaths per mile", space travel is by far the safest means if travel.

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  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No. The elevator is. Much safer than escalators too.
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Generally that is not desirable, compared to thoughtful consideration by a group of experts on Earth. "Houstin, we got a problem ..." works better than one man decisions.

    The nice thing about a robot, is that if in some unforseen "emergency" it dies, so what - send another later and still save huge sum compared to sending men.

    Also I like the idea of leaving clearly advanced technology on rocks orbiting the sun. They will, in most cases still be there, when only some ceramic toilet bowls and large power line insulators are found on Earth to show we were ever here. What else can resist the weather for 100,000+ years?
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  13. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member


    Well lets see. NASA is now building a program that will eventually land humans on Mars. There's much data that needs to be gathered before NASA sends humans out into deep space like how to prevent radioactivity from harming those who venture out beyond Earths atmosphere and magnetic field. So far there's no known shielding product that can keep humans safe in deep space but again they are working on that problem. You don't just jump into a ship and take off without millions of things to learn about before doing so.

    The spacecraft just went by Pluto and took great pictures another achievement by NASA. It is now on its way into the Ort Cloud to view some interesting asteroids there and return with pictures being taken of objects it finds.

    A few spacecraft went to comets and asteroids and sent back pictures of them and even collected particles and returned them back to Earth, another great achievement.

    The James Webb telescope is due to be launched in 2018 and it will be a thousand times more powerful than the Hubble is so another achievement.

    I could go on but I don't think that these achievements make you happy for some reason. You seem to want to put the cart before the horse by sending humans into the unknown just to think that's a way to do things. I do not. Many do not. Safety is paramount not just going out into space and we need more data before we do so.
  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Robotic space craft are totally necessary in our continued exploration program into the solar system and beyond: They always have been and always will be.
    But really I find it quite mythical that anyone could really believe that robotic exploration is all that is necessary and required.
    Simply put, the nature of man itself, means that we will go where ever it is humanly possible and probably even where it is humanly impossible at this time....
    And of course this planet does have a "use by" date.
    Manned space exploration will never cease and there will never be any logical argument why it should cease......

    " [Mars rovers] Spirit and Opportunity are fantastic things on Mars, but the fact that they've traveled as far in eight years as the Apollo astronauts traveled in three days speaks volumes"
    "The advantages of human over robot explorers are recognized in the planetary sciences community: a 2005 report by the Commission on the Scientific Case for Human Space Exploration noted that "the expert evidence we have heard strongly suggests that the use of autonomous robots alone will very significantly limit what can be learned about our nearest potentially habitable planet." Steve Squyres, the Principal Investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, conceded in his book Roving Mars that "[t]he unfortunate truth is that most things our rovers can do in a perfect sol [a martian day] a human explorer could do in less than a minute." But Crawford also expresses concerns over the capacity of robots for "making serendipitous discoveries."

    There is a widely held view in the astronomical community that unmanned robotic space vehicles are, and will always be, more efficient explorers of planetary surfaces than astronauts (e.g. Coates, 2001; Clements 2009; Rees 2011). Partly this is due to a common assumption that robotic exploration is cheaper than human exploration (although, as we shall see, this isn’t necessarily true if like is compared with like), and partly from the expectation that continued developments in technology will relentlessly increase the capability, and reduce the size and cost, of robotic missions to the point that human exploration will not be able to compete. I will argue below that the experience of human exploration during the Apollo missions, more recent field analogue studies, and trends in robotic space exploration actually all point to exactly the opposite conclusion.

    The lesson seems clear: if at some future date a series of Apollo-like human missions return to the Moon and/or are sent on to Mars, and if these are funded (as they will be) for a complex range of socio-political reasons, scientists will get more for our money piggy-backing science on them than we will get by relying on dedicated autonomous robotic vehicles which will, in any case, become increasingly unaffordable. Fortunately, there is a way forward. In 2007 the World’s space agencies came together to develop the Global Exploration Strategy (GES), which lays the foundations for a global human exploration programme which could provide us with just such an opportunity (GES 2007). One of the first fruits of the GES has been the development of a Global Exploration Roadmap (GER 2011), which outlines possible international contributions to human missions to the Moon, near-Earth asteroids and, eventually, Mars. The motivations for the GES are, needless-to-say, multifaceted, and include a range of geopolitical and societal motivations (many of them highly desirable in themselves) in addition to science. From the above discussion, it ought to be clear that science would be a major beneficiary of participating in a human exploration programme such as envisaged by the Global Exploration Strategy. Quite simply, this will result in new knowledge, including answers to fundamental questions regarding the origin and evolution of planets, and the distribution and history of life in the Solar System, that will not be obtained as efficiently, and in many cases probably not obtained at all, by reliance on robotic exploration alone.

    It may seem corny to some, but humanity will simply go where he can, "because it is there"
  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    That's wrong... I have said it before [and I'm sure others also accept] and I'll say it again, robotic exploration and manned exploration go hand in glove. One will in most cases precede the other, but in the end, the final goal will always be to send a manned expedition and return it, safely with all on board. [MARS ONE being the exception.

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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I'm not talking about the general situation - where even a manned mission would revert to mission control. I'm talking about the situations that might arise where snap decisions are needed - where the moment might pass for a robot simply because it doesn't recognise the situation and has to wait from anywhere up to 45 minutes or so to send a message and receive the response.
    Yep, we could do that. And we can wrap ourselves in cotton wool and never go outside, never play sports, never put ourselves in harm's way again. We are an adventuring species. We are willing to risk life and limb to explore. Mars is no different. There are people quite willing to go and risk it all in a manned mission. Heck, people are willing to risk everything just climbing mountains!
    Is this supposed to be an argument against manned-missions??? You don't think manned missions will ever leave advanced tech on rocks? Like the lunar rover? The landing module etc?
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  17. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Without robots we would not know where to send humans on Mars that might be better than any other. We also wouldn't learn how to land there or find out how much cosmic rays and radioactivity is hitting Mars. The solar wind needed to be measured and a myriad of other data needs to be gleaned by robots so that when humans do get there they will arrive safely and have a very well planned mission. Robots are capable of doing things 24/7 and not be affected by hazards that are found on celestial objects. Robots are cheaper as well and with AI getting up to speed soon they will have their own way of exploring and find ways to get themselves out of trouble.
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Bit of a strawman here, cosmictraveler, as noone has said that robots should be done away with. They have their place, absolutely.

    That said, robots are not needed to scan surfaces, identify radiation, measure solar winds etc. Probes have done that, do that, and will continue to do that. I guess you could classify them as robots, but then I wouldn't classify my radio as a robot.

    Robots may be able to do things 24/7 but only when they're working and not "stuck on geometry" (as some might put it).
    Mars rover Spirit, for example, got stuck in some sand in May 2009 and hasn't moved since (I believe). Yes, it can still perform some functions, but for the lack of a horse a kingdom was lost.

    AI is certainly a valid point, although until they can get it to the point where it will fit within the robot itself, or at best in an orbiting module (to allow for far quicker comms between the AI and the robot than would be required for robot to Earth comms) it is a moot point. Also it still requires the robot to be sufficiently dexterous to handle the issues/solutions.

    But it certainly isn't a case of either / or, but rather a combination that works best not only in purely economic terms but for any number of intangible benefits.
  19. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    How about we send a hologram that could be of a human to Mars and do what a real human does while there? They could send instruments first then a holographic machine to move about and when something interesting is found a hologram would be projected of the human on Earth walking around doing investigating work. That would put humans on Mars but they wouldn't be in any danger. They are coming a very long way with holograms as you know so this idea I am talking about isn't that far fetched. See here....

  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    When was the last time you saw a holographic person interact with anything that wasn't also a hologram.
    And you're still not overcoming the up to 45 minute delay in decision making that communicating from Mars to Earth entails.
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    How does a hologram investigate anything? Why would it need to be human-like?
    How does a mobile hologram move about any better than a rover? Or see any better?
    Why not dispense with all the equipment required to project a useless human hologram, and use that mass budget for instruments?
  22. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    True, but the argument against manned space exploration is cost based, not logic based.

    Financial resources are not unlimited. It is a question of priorities what gets funded. Rich as the US is, it is a shame, that some bright and talented can not go to college as they can not pay the tuition. Others do without needed medical care for lack of funds. US bridges are in bad state of repair. Our trains belong in museums, not on the rails. - Get modern high speed trains, to reduce travel costs and air pollution. More needs to be spent developing clean energy sources. Some poor retired people must chose between paying the rent or buying the drugs they need. Etc. a hundred times for items with higher priority.

    I would put exploring the deep ocean robotically 10 times higher priority than sending a man into space. We know there are valuable mineral nodules there, and what else?, that can benefit earthlings. Nothing material can economically be returned to earth from space, not even from the moon.

    Is there any knowledge gained by manned space exploration that has made life easier and better for anyone, other than the employees of companies building rockets, etc? If so what is it?
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    The number of innovations that came from the R&D involved in the space program are uncountable.

    I am alive because of technology developed by the space program for manned missions.

    Here's a few:
    The references at the bottom list more.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015

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