Questioning the Surface of Mars as the 21st Century's
Ultimate Pioneering Destination in Space
Daniel R. Adamo
This 1.5-hour lecture reviews historic Earthly distinctions between exploring and pioneering before applying these distinctions to destinations in space. Although a case can be made for human and robotic exploration in space, there is as yet no compelling rationale for "putting down roots" to pioneer anywhere off Earth. Why then is the surface of Mars widely accepted as humanity's future "home away from home" to the extent some 200,000 people are willing to attempt forming a permanent colony there? There is no evidence suggesting humans can survive on the surface of Mars long-term, let alone thrive there to produce viable offspring. A variety of evidence is presented to affirm the surface of Mars is a "socio-cultural" destination whose suitability for human pioneering is based on more than a century of fictional literature and poorly informed research as the Space Age dawned. More current knowledge of the "unexplored country" in our Solar System suggests small bodies such as asteroids and the moons of Mars are humanity's best hope for pioneering off Earth this century.
Mr. Adamo is an astrodynamics consultant focused on space mission trajectory design, operations, and architecture. He works with clients primarily at NASA and in academia.
Until retirement in 2008, Mr. Adamo was employed by United Space Alliance as a trajectory expert, serving as a “front room” flight controller for 60 Space Shuttle missions. Along with console duties during simulations and missions, this job entailed development of trajectory designs, software tools, flight rules, console procedures, and operations concepts. Mr. Adamo began his career at the Perkin-Elmer Corporation where he developed and operated proof-of-concept software for computer-controlled polishing of optical elements. He has degrees in Physical Sciences and Optical Engineering from the University of Houston and the University of Rochester, respectively.
Mr. Adamo is an AIAA Associate Fellow and the author of many publications (ref. http://www.aiaahouston.org/adamo_astrodynamics/). He has received numerous awards, including 14 NASA Group Achievement Awards.