The Wet Red Planet

NASA scientists have discovered
enough subsurface ice on Mars to cover the planet to a depth of 500 meters
. This means that Mars has one of the most important elements needed for space travel, and this news has meant that NASA is drawing up plans to send a manned expedition in 20 years.

This news is important, as it means that the chances of their being or having been life on the Martian surface is now much greater. Furthermore, water can be used to generate oxygen, make hydrogen for fuel, and sustain a manned presence on the planet for an extended time.

In an age where we’re fighting people who want to build a bridge back to the fourteenth century, it would be nice for the US to start a project that’s all about hope for the future. Putting men on Mars would be a great PR move and a great symbol of America’s resolve to be on the forefront of human experience and evolution. Our destiny is to explore – it’s time we started really doing that again.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg says that there may be some dark clouds behind this silver lining. He’s got an interesting take, especially when it’s concerned to the less-than-stellar reliability of NASA and the fact that easing access to low Earth orbit may be more important in the long run. Still, I see any news that may advance the cause of space exploration as a positive thing.