Ellen Stofan, is one of NASA’s chief scientists, and is the principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs, planning and investments.
Yesterday, she sat down for an interview with The Guardian to talk about NASA, Mars, space and the future of space exploration and colonization.
During the interview, the host asked Stofan the following question:
“Is Nasa going to send humans to Mars just to show that it can?”
“Well, I’m biased because I’m a field geologist. Humans can actually read a landscape, go through a lot of rocks – crack them open, throw them, pick up the next one. Rovers are great, they do amazing science, but it is a lot more tedious process – they go much less far than a human can cover in a day. Having humans on the surface is how I think we are going to be able to demonstrate totally conclusively that life did evolve on Mars.”
The interviewer responded with the following:
“There is a lot of talk about settling Mars. Will Nasa be bringing its astronauts back?”
Stofan had this to say:
“We would definitely plan on bringing them back. We like to talk about pioneering Mars rather than just exploring Mars, because once we get to Mars we will set up some sort of permanent presence.”
Stofan also answered questions about NASA’s search for extra-terrestrial life, the risks of contaminating Mars, and space junk, among other things. You can listen to the interview below or read more of the transcripts from The Guardian here.