After robots get through exploring Mars, humans will be next. How will we get enough air and water and produce the power we need? Some researchers have suggested using weapons-grade plutonium for the job, but NASA’s Humboldt Mandell says, “?To think about taking the most deadly element that’s known to humanity, like plutonium, and mucking up Mars with it, to me that borders on the immoral.” Despite President Bush’s plans for a base on the moon, he thinks it will be cheaper to skip the moon and go straight to Mars.

Deborah Zabarenko quotes Mandell as saying, “I have no objection to building a moon base, but if you’re going to go to Mars, the cheapest way to do it is to base it on the Earth and then make Mars the second safest place in the solar system for humans, and then send the humans to Mars?With one-third of the NASA budget, in six or seven years you could be at Mars. It doesn’t compute with me to try to drag it out.” But the Bush government may not want to leave the moon to the Chinese, who are already planning a mission there.

Astronauts on Mars will be in constant danger from radiation coming from the sun. What’s up with the sun these days, anyway? Dr. Paul La Violette’s brilliant book might just tell us. It explains why we had a cataclysm 15,000 years ago, and what could trigger another one.

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