I cam across the article below and thought this would be a great discussion. I agree with the scientists view above, but not with the reader that voiced their opinion. I do feel that their argument is valid, but in the scheme of things exploration is just as important. Human missions to mars and other planets are surely needed. The robots are able to only do preprogrammed tasks and are unable to deviate from those tasks based on new findings, humans will allow for mission changes and adaptations along with a human sense of understanding. The robots are wonderful in preparing us for human exploration, but a human is needed to fine tune the exploration. Now, to say that exploration is not needed is definately a wrong choice. This world can be hit by a massive meteor in the future. The sun will get hotter as it gets older and sooner or later, we will be out of the SAFE ZONE. The planet will get hotter and storms will become more massive. The Earth will one day be unliveable for us any more, so eventually we will need to move to another planet if we want mankind to survive. We are just in the infancy of space development and understanding. We will need decades if not centuries to understand the universe, technology, and planetary systems enough to colonize successfully. If we do not start now, how will we be able to move a planet full of people from impending doom. I say, do not wait for another generation to start it. Study now while we have the time and chance. The people that go to space know the risks, there will always be risk to human life in any new endeavor. We cannot be 100% safe especially dealing with the harsh hazards of space and space exploration. But, the people that die gave their lives for something that they believed in and something that will advace the planet as a whole. The shuttle disaster was a great loss to the world, but there were things learned from the accident. Things that may save alot more lives in the future. Please do not think that I am being cold, as I had tears for each of them. But, I do not htink that they died in vane and that missions will be safer in the future because of this. They are true heroes. I would take the jump to space in a heartbeat even if it was very dangerous. Why? Because it is something that I believe in and would actually take the risk of dieing for. They are true heroes and I am sure they would not want the space missions to stop. Any thoughts on this?