Thursday, August 5, 2010

T-Rex vs. Mars Rover

Comment sections are usually full of idiots. Case in point:
jjeherrera Jul 30, 2010 6:17 PM
I've always found it hard to understand why there is so much insistence in manned space exploration, when it has been proven that robots are infinitely better at it.
Wanna know what I say?
Top speed of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the mightiest dinosaur: 25 mph
Top speed of the Spirit Mars rover: 2 inches/second
Human space flight ftw!

But seriously, "...it has been proven that robots are infinitely better at [space exploration]." Huh? What planet are you from? (Maybe one where T-Rex and Mars rovers can peacefully coexist?)

Right now robots are the method of choice for exploring the solar system because they don't want to come home when all is said and done. And nobody has a fit when one or two burn up in the atmosphere. But to do serious exploration, robots just won't cut it forever.

Imagine trying to design a robot to
  1. Land in the Rocky Mountains (and survive!)
  2. Move about successfully (good luck)
  3. And then discover dinosaurs.
It's utterly unthinkable.

Do you think that's a bizarre scenario? Consider for a moment that Mars has both the highest mountain (Olympus Mons) and the biggest canyon (Valles Marineris) in the solar system. Mars used to have vast oceans, huge rivers, and gargantuan lava flows. It still has dust storms, polar ice caps, and massive amounts of water ice just below the surface. The possibility of fossilized microorganisms is very real - not to mention the chance of native life just below the frigid surface.

If we're ever going to do space exploration any justice we'll need to get our feet dirty. Humans are infinitely better at space exploration than robots!
Thanks for the drawing Brook!

1 comment:

Sean said...

http://xkcd.com/386/