The touchdown on Mars of another NASA rover has generated lots of excitement about the red planet. But scientific exploration is one thing. Believing that humans might be able to live on the planet someday is another, writes Shannon Stirone at the Atlantic. She calls out those pushing the idea that Mars is a viable option for humans in the not-too-distant future, or ever, particularly Elon Musk. A video in circulation show Musk reading a passage from Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot in which Sagan argues that humans better take care of Earth because no alternative exists. "False," says Musk, laughing. "Mars." Musk, of course, aims to get there via his SpaceX company, and he sounds gung-ho about the idea of Mars as a permanent home for relocated Earthlings. "He couldn’t be more wrong," writes Stirone. "Mars? Mars is a hellhole."
She runs through the reasons why—surface temperatures of 80 below zero, no breathable air, no protection from radiation from the sun, etc. Humans would have to live underground and survive by UV lights. The planet "is not in the realm of hospitable to humans," she writes. "Mars will kill you." Stirone draws a contrast between Sagan, who inspired readers with the awe he felt toward the cosmos, and Musk, who "has used the medium of dreaming and exploration to wrap up a package of entitlement, greed, and ego." He could do so much here on Earth will all the money he will waste on Mars, she writes. "To laugh at Sagan’s words is to miss the point entirely: There really is only one true home for us—and we’re already here." Read the full piece. (Or read about the secret message NASA tucked into the new rover's parachute.)