About the SA Blog Network



Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American
Observations HomeAboutContact

Who Should Explore Space: Astronauts or Astro-Bots?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

Check out our latest Space Exploration coverage:
This Way to Mars
In-Depth Report : The Future of Deep-Space Exploration
Forget Asteroids—Send a Manned Flyby Mission to Venus
How an Energy-Efficient Spacecraft Could Revolutionize Space Travel [Video]
Breaking the Deep-Space Barrier [Interactive]

Rights & Permissions

Comments 5 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. YetAnotherBob 6:16 pm 12/5/2011

    People are just more flexible than any Robots we can build. They are also a biological safeguard against a planetary catastrophe. We should be looking to get ultimately (in say, 100 to 200 years) economically independent colonies around the Solar System.

    Robots or other machines, on the other hand are best for first forays into new areas, or for long period missions. We should expect the machines to go first. But, after a while, it’s time to send people. In the end, it will be mostly one way trips, as folks chose to leave what they have always known and go to live a new way.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Russell 5:21 pm 12/7/2011

    The wrong question. Here is what needs to happen

    Link to this
  3. 3. Scienceangela 6:08 pm 12/7/2011

    We are already applying the most up to date artificial intelligence methodology to produce Astro-bots. We should continue developing techniques to make the robots or astrobots even better.

    Link to this
  4. 4. RickWagner 6:33 pm 12/7/2011

    There really is no practical or scientific justification for the cost of human exploration, but nevertheless, we need to fund human explorers in addition to the robots in order to inspire our youth and pave the way for space colonization. Setting high self-imposed standards gives meaning to life (paraphrasing E. O. Wison).

    Link to this
  5. 5. skputer 7:30 am 12/8/2011

    Rick Wagner makes a good and noble point with respect to the long-term future of space exploration. In present times, however, I think that our space exploration dollars will yield much more in the way of discoveries and useful information thru reliance on robotics.

    One hopes (and believes) there will be scientific and technological breakthroughs down the line that will make manned exploration economically feasible.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article