The Race to Mars
According to this article, a NASA rover named Curiosity is scheduled to launch this Saturday from the US towards Mars, potentially racing Russia’s spacecraft which is currently stuck in the Earth’s orbit. If the Russian mission is saved, both the US’s and Russia’s crafts will leave the Earth’s orbit at the same time, traveling the same speed towards the red planet. Both countries face a great challenge, as the difficult road to Mars has been attempted before without success. Russia in particular has a very treacherous road ahead of it, as it has had eighteen failed missions to Mars since 1960. The last successful interplanetary mission was fifteen years ago, and in between then and the present, much has changed and grown in terms of technology. The possibilities of achieving the mission are still slim, however, and the potential loss for Russia, while a victory for the US, could be a great failure for science. There is fear that if the craft does fail, it will plummet back down to Earth between this December and February. The craft is carrying toxic fuel and radioactive material, and the site of the crash cannot be predicted until one day before it lands.
Do you think the possibility of this danger is worth the exploration to Mars? Do you think that the US will succeed in its mission? On a less related note, have you always found space fascinating and did you ever want to be an astronaut?