Why Mars? - Essays

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In September 2004 The Mars Society (TMS) announced a "Why Mars?" essay contest. The announcement stated:

"Mars Society members consist of engineers, microbiologists, rocket scientists and other key players who are helping to shape the technologies that will enable us to get to Mars, explore the planet and possibly one day settle there. But the Mars Society is more than a technical society. Our members also include writers, anthropologists, philosophers and activists who believe that setting a positive course for the future of humanity begins now, with us.

One of the hardest parts of convincing the "person on the street" and therefore the voters, and thence the politicians, is explaining why sending humans to Mars is so critical to our vision of a positive future. The reasons we adopt are as varied as our political, religious and philosophical viewpoints and are usually as well thought out as they are highly personal. It is time to emphasize the importance of why, not just how or when or how much money."

Entries were accepted from all Mars Society members and others interested in sending humans to Mars. The entries varied considerably, not only in tone, but in their reasoning. The judges felt both privileged and enlightened to have read each one of them. As hard as it was to single out a few as winners, the Mars Society was pleased to congratulate the following for their outstanding submissions. A special presentation of winning entries occurred at the 7th International Mars Society convention in Chicago, Illinois, August 19th-22nd. In the 2005 Apogee published volume On the Mars 2, [1] thirty of the essays were published on a CDROM inserted inside in the back cover of the book to allow readers to examine these and contemplate how they, too, might answer the question, “Why Mars?”

All of the essay winners in various categories are listed and links to each essay are also found in the TMS MarsPapers archives [2].


  1. On to Mars 2 - Exploring and Settling a New World, Compiled and edited by Frank Crossman and Robert Zubrin, Apogee Books, Burlington, Ontario, Canada, 2005, ISBN 1-894959-30-2
  2. "The 2004 'Why Mars?' Essays", MarsPapers Archives