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Pages: Dear [Legislator or legislative aide’s name]: I recently spoke to you about a number of Mars Society members who would like to arrange a short meeting with [legislator's name] when it is convenient. The Mars Society is a non-profit organization that advocates the public and private exploration of and, in particular, the human exploration of the planet Mars.
The Founding Convention of the Mars Society took place at the University of Colorado - Boulder in August 1998. The Society currently boasts a worldwide membership of nearly 2000 scientists, educators, space professionals and advocates, and is rapidly expanding. Members of the Society include many well-known personalities, including:
§ Dr. Geoff Briggs: director of the Center for Mars Exploration at NASA Ames Research Center
§ Dr. Michael Griffin: former NASA Associate Administrator foe Exploration and Chief Technical Officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation
§ Kim Stanley Robinson: author of Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars and Antarctica
§ Donna Shirley: former manager of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Exploration Program and author of Managing Martians
§ Dr. Carol Stoker: life scientist at Ames Research Center and founder of the “Case for Mars” series of conferences
§ Dr. Robert Zubrin: developer of the Mars Direct mission architecture and author of The Case for Mars
The Mars Society believes that travel implies a destination and that the most promising near term destination for space travel is Mars. The reasons for this are powerful and include:
§ Comparative planetology: Evidence suggests that Mars and the Earth were very similar during the early stages of the Solar system. What caused their subsequent development to differ so radically? What does this teach us about the Earth's environment and what implications does this have for the survival of life on our planet?
§ The search for life: Although Mars meteorite ALH84001 has offered powerful evidence for past life on Mars, the case will not be conclusively proven until humans travel to and explore Mars. Furthermore, only exploration can determine whether there is still life on Mars and discover the extent and complexity of life that has existed. The confirmation of life on Mars will be evidence that life is ubiquitous in the universe and be a profound philosophical revelation.
§ The challenge of the frontier: Civilizations, like people, thrive on challenge and decay without it. Americans, better than most people, know the challenges that a frontier offers to a civilization. The human exploration and eventual settlement of Mars offer an unparalleled challenge to America and the world. The immense benefits of this challenge would include new industries and technologies, an educational inspiration to millions of children and new social and political structures.
§ The planet: Mars is unique among the extraterrestrial bodies in the Solar system in that it has all the materials necessary to sustain a complete human civilization. Mars is a New World, filled with history waiting to be made by a new and youthful branch of human civilization that is waiting to be born.
Based on our belief that Mars is the next and best target for the United States space program, the Society advocates the following measures:
§ Doubling the funding of the NASA robotic exploration effort to $500 million. A significant portion of the added funds should come to the JPL-led robotic program through NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) organization. This is important to ensure that robotic Mars probes carry appropriate instruments and payloads to provide critical data for future human exploration. Another major portion of the added funds should be used to establish a “Mars Discovery” program, in which mission concepts proposed by various investigators are openly competed on the basis of maximum science return for the dollar (in a manner similar to the existing NASA Discovery program, which is off-limits to Mars probes.) This is necessary to ensure that the Mars program remains efficient and creative.
§ A new program to develop the technologies necessary for human Mars exploration missions. Congress should fund such a program at a level of about $130 million per year - less than 1% of NASA's current budget, or about 6% of the current ISS budget - within the NASA HEDS organization. This is necessary to do now to prepare the way for a breakout into space early in the next administration.
§ Adjusting the language of NASA Code M appropriations to maximize the use of current funds. This language currently prevents NASA Code M (Shuttle and Space Station) programs from spending their own existing funds to develop technologies needed for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. These programs have very large budgets, and their managers in some instances are aware of the necessity of using some of their capital to prepare for the future. They should not be prevented from doing so.
§ Spreading the word. America’s political leaders should expose as many people as possible to the idea that we can and should have our first human explorers on Mars before the next decade is out. Americans want and deserve a space program that really pioneers new worlds. America’s leaders should prepare the public and the political establishment for a decision to launch a humans-to-Mars program within the next decade by expressing support for such a program on appropriate occasions.
These are the ideas and goals that we would like to discuss with [legislator's name]. We understand how busy [his/her] schedule must be, but would very much like to meet in [office location] as soon as possible. We will accommodate ourselves to your schedule, meeting wherever and whenever is most convenient. We would appreciate at least half an hour, but can be very brief, if required. Although I cannot be sure how many members will show up until the details of the meeting are known, I would expect a minimum of [number] people.
Please call me at [your phone] at your convenience to arrange a meeting. We look forward to hearing from you.