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I am a huge fan of Star Trek, and a proponent of exploring space. I would like to know what is out there beyond our own Solar System and I believe that exploration is part of our DNA. But I also feel that such an activity is a luxury and one that we as a society cannot afford at this time.
If we do not have the resources for universal health care, and better treatment facilities, and replacing bridges that have outlived their life span and are creating a danger to public safety, how can we afford space exploration?
So I seriously question whether the billions of dollars spent to land NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars is worth it.
It may be an intellectual exercise to determine if there once was life or water on Mars, but I believe those billions could be better spent finding sources of water for New Mexico, Nevada and the other states that are suffering from a long term shortage of water.
In my opinion, determining if there was water on the red planet billions of years ago will make no one's life better. But finding water here, or in the Sudan, or building up deteriorating infrastructure will go a long way to improving the lot for many, many people.
Sure you may argue that one day we may want to, in fact we may need to, inhabitant a neighboring planet in order to save our civilization. But that is a hypothetical situation and our current shortages of water and money are not hypothetical.
If you have unlimited funds then interplanetary travel, why not? But if you have limited resources then you had better prioritize what is NEEDED and what is AN UNWARRANTED EXTRAVAGANCE.
Going to a neighboring planet that has been dead for billions of years is, in my opinion, definitely in the category of unwarranted extravagance.
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