February 12, 2013
Majority Of Americans Believe Man Will Be On Mars Within 20 Years
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A new poll indicates Americans are very confident in the ability of the United States to send man to Mars within the next 20 years.Explore Mars, a non-profit corporation, and Phillips & Company, a global communications firm, carried out a poll to determine where people stand on going to Mars.
After the polling, it was discovered 71 percent of Americans are confident humans will be visiting the Red Planet by 2033. Also, the confidence was high not just in the ability to go to Mars, but also in the idea we should, as 67 percent of the respondents agreed, be sending both humans and robots to Mars.
"It's great to see such optimism around the US. Hopefully our elected officials will listen," Chris Carberry, Executive Director at Explore Mars, told redOrbit in an email. "We have been without a clear goal in space for too long. It's time that we commit to getting humans to Mars before 2030."
People polled also believed NASA took a larger chunk out of the federal budget than the space agency really does. The average American, according to the survey, believes NASA pulls out 2.4 percent of the federal budget each year. However, the space agency only represents about 0.5 percent of the federal budget for 2013.
Once the person being polled was made aware of how much of the federal budget NASA takes up, 75 percent said they "Strongly Agree" or "Agree" taking a manned mission to Mars would be an idea worth pursuing if NASA's percentage of the federal budget needed to increase 1 percent.
"This is not a naively optimistic goal as some would suggest. It is quite attainable, but only if we decide on the goal, stick with it, and not be afraid to embrace new and innovative ideas," said Carberry. "One thing that is certain in these tough budgetary times, we need to spend taxpayer dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible."
The number one reason for heading towards Mars, given by the pollers, was to achieve a greater understanding of the Red Planet. The second shared opinion was to search for signs of Martian life, while the third was to maintain US leadership in commercial, scientific and national defense applications.
Seventy-three percent of those surveyed believe the greatest barrier of heading towards Mars is overcoming the cost, while 67 percent say it is just a matter of politics. Surprisingly, technological capabilities and motivation were not seen as significant barriers considered by the majority of those who were polled.
Explore Mars said it sampled 1,101 survey respondents, representing a 95 percent confidence level with a plus or minus margin of error at three percent. They conducted the survey by email, and said it targeted a nationwide sample.
Carberry suggests taking that initial step to Mars should involve an international mission between space agencies.
"We have spent the last couple of decades building an international partnership at the International Space Station," he told redOrbit. "An international mission to Mars could be an extraordinary next step for that partnership."