What's the point of sending canned monkeys to Mars?
I do not understand the whole business in question. If you absolutely positively have to have manned missions (I don't), why not the Moon? There is not much difference between 1/100 Earth atmosphere pressure or hard vacuum. Hard vacuum is even better for industrial processes. Insolation is much higher. And there is almost certainly water up there. And in a pinch you can mount a rescue mission. And and and...
> The Human Imperative: A Case for the Eradication of Unmanned Mars Missions
> Part 1
> by Mac Tonnies
> The recent loss of the Mars Polar Lander, the second in a series of probes to
> fall victim to NASA's "faster, better, cheaper" mission philosophy, provides
> an excellent opportunity to reassess our commitment to Mars exploration. The
> "human imperative" advocates nothing less than a manned mission in place of
> all future robotic missions, preferably to begin as soon as possible.