Once we go to Mars, we'll probably stay. Setting up a permanent scientific station, as we've done in Antarctica, might not cost much more than a short visit, since getting there is arguably the biggest expense. An outpost would surely give us enormous scientific benefits, and would point us towards the day that human civilization isn't limited to a single, fragile world. But just how hard would it be to get a Mars habitat up and running -- and keep it alive?
One way to find out is Scott Davis' Mars Simulation Project, an effort to simulate management of human settlements on Mars, from tiny outposts to sprawling communities. Begun in 1998 and still under active development (the most recent version, 2.78, came out in late October of this year), the Mars Simulation Project is a dynamic and complex application, with a wealth of details including statistics on the health and condition of every single colonist -- sort of The Sims Go To Mars -- and myriad station components, exploration tools, and even disasters. The graphics aren't very pretty, more spreadsheet than 3D game, but it's hard to imagine a richer simulation.
Built in Java, the Mars Simulation Project runs on nearly every operating system, and the configuration files are easy to modify. Best of all: it's open source, so if you want to add your own ideas to the model, you can. We may mourn the loss of the Maxis SimMars game and NASA's "Mars: The Journey Begins," but the Mars Simulation Project looks to be a more than worthy alternative.
The graphics aren't very pretty, more spreadsheet than 3D game, but it's hard to imagine a richer simulation.
I think graphics are over rated in games - how it plays is perhaps more important than eye candy.
And to I remember that the guys running Misson Control had .... numbers to look at. Numbers and spreadsheets are fine.
[Recently in Oakland] When asked about his thoughts on President Bush's proposal to put a man on Mars within 10 years, [Stephen] Hawking simply replied: "Stupid."
With so many issues to face here on terra firma, i think it is irresponsible to promote boondoggles of public funds--simulated or not. Mars is a distraction from the real issues we face as WorldChangers.
If you think the only plan for going to Mars is the one pushed by Bush, you're woefully mistaken. Hawking was right -- but Hawking wasn't talking about going to Mars, period.
I assume you're not a regular reader. There are plenty of good reasons to be interested in long-term inhabitation of Mars -- eventually. We've discussed them repeatedly here. Further, from the very outset we've made the point that the very best thing we can do about our future is really to think about it.
Saying that going to Mars in 10 years is ridiculous is fine. Saying that you disagree with the idea of going to Mars at all is, well, something that's worth discussing. But saying that we shouldn't even simulate such an activity... that's just so wrong-headed it's breathtaking.
Bush's plan isnt stupid all it amounts to is make the tech so we CAN get people to mars and can keep em there for a good while and then get em back.
All vital things to get done before we can do much else on mars.
Oh and a comment on why go to mars when blah blah blah need money. Because enough people want us to get our ass into space and they pay taxes and demand some of that tax go to getting our ass off this planet NOW.