Out of interest, I thought I'd do some basic fact-finding to put things into perspective:
- NASA's annual civilian space budget; $15bn. Money spent by US citizens on their pets; $31bn (source SpaceDaily web article on the cost/benefit of space travel)
- Cost of the NASA Spirit and Opportunity Mission; $850m (source Washington Post editorial)
- Cost to the UK National Health Service for treating smoking related illness during 2002; £1.5bn (source Action on Smoking and Health).
People, you pays your money you takes your choice.
With two working landers (NASA engineers are narrowing in on Spirit's technical problems) on opposite sides of the planet this is going to be an exciting next few weeks.