This week I had two new papers formally published. The first of these, A Field Guide to Finding Fossils on Mars, was written with a host of co-authors from the NASA Astrobiology Institute. This paper aims to help forthcoming NASA and European missions to search for traces of ancient life on the red planet. Three … Continue reading New papers: To Mars and beyond! (But with a conscience)
Is the exploration of space justified by our natural wanderlust? Are we morally obliged to terraform other planets in order to avert stagnation or extinction on Earth? Should we worry about the socio-economic consequences of asteroid mining, or the aesthetic damage done by the extraction of Helium-3 from the moon?
Mars has been a wandering star, a vengeful God, and latterly a storied world of shifting greenery, huge canals, carved faces, pyramids, aliens, and warrior princesses. Today, it is hard to see Mars through the haze of these cultural-historical associations. In the midst of this haze, it seems quite reasonable to talk about terraforming. If … Continue reading The Aesthetic Objection to Terraforming Mars