To put the Mars landing in perspective..

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(This was posted by writer Locut0s on Democratic Underground this morning. I’m passing it along verbatim.)

One of the engineers at the NASA press conference mentioned that landing the Curiosity space rover on Mars cost the US about $7 per US citizen.

A quick back of the napkin calculation shows the war in Iraq has cost $2,588 per US citizen.

Or in other words: for the cost of the war in Iraq, they would have landed about 370 Mars rovers. I’m not even going to bother to mention how much could have been accomplished in other sectors with such money.

The result of the Mars landing? Mountains of invaluable scientific research. An inspiration to an entire generation of young minds to reach for the stars, quite literally (and apply themselves in school to get there). Offshoot, unintended engineering and scientific developments which will ripple back through society. An expansion of our understanding of the universe and our place in it. A shining example of how different countries can come together peacefully to contribute to something that gives back to all, and is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Result of the war in Iraq? More than 4,400 US troops killed. 100,000 to 500,000 Iraqis killed. Families torn apart. Our international image dragged through the mud. International relations severed or severely strained. A likely contributing factor to the largest global meltdown since the great depression. Unknown but doubtless great harm done to archaeological and other cultural sites of importance in Iraq. A shining example of how one country, unchecked, over-powered, over-militarized, under-educated, and ignorant can single-handedly break the ties that bond the world together in the best of times, and thrust us into the worst.

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