This is the letter I wrote to nearly 40 heads-of-state, including His Excellency the President of Portugal, advocating a humans-to-Mars space program. The letter following it is the one I recieved from the President of Portugal in response. It was signed at the bottom by hand, and as soon as I get my scanner working (and as soon as I get some time) I'll put a picture of the signature on the site.
May 29, 2001
To President of the Portuguese Republic, Dr. Jorge Sampaio:
There are many advocates of a Humans-to-Mars program. I am one of them. Why should we send Earthlings to another planet? The answers are many. First, a manned mission to the red planet could prove that there was, at some point, life on the murky world. Secondly, we are destroying our own planet. In several centuries, Mars may be our only hope for survival. Most importantly, the research required to reach such a substantial goal will pave the way for new industries and innovations that will benefit humankind.
Mars is known to consist of a number of elements and compounds needed for life to exist. There is water frozen in the polar ice caps, and oxygen floating about in the thin atmosphere. Contained in the Martian soil, in proportions resembling those on earth, are isotopes giving off natural radiation, which probably propelled the thermal development of the planetís exterior. Confirmation of fossils in Marsí crust or microorganisms in groundwater could help us ascertain whether or not there was ever life there. Experiments conducted by humans are the best means of successfully analyzing Marsí crust, for rovers and probes do not have the capability of deducing such facts. People are the answer.
Earth may not be habitable for much longer. We are polluting our land, water, and atmosphere to the point of extinction. We are consuming natural resources more quickly than our planet can renew them. Global warming is taking its toll on people, agriculture, and terrain across the globe. If we do not cease the deconstruction of our planet, Mars will have to be the answer.
The rewards for a Humans-to-Mars program would more than compensate for the costs of such a program. Younger generationsí minds and bodies would be challenged to join the effort to explore faraway places. They would have to broaden their range of knowledge in the sciences and technologies, medicines, and mathematics in order to keep up with the rapidly expanding market of industries that would be sparked by a voyage to Mars. Once enough of our youths are motivated, there will be a remarkable increase in the skilled workforces who will ultimately cure longstanding medical impediments, enhance peopleís income, and be of great advantage to the entirety of humanity. Our children are our future.
All this and more can profit the human race. But only with the combined and wholehearted efforts of our world leaders will the red planet soon be under human foot. It is not science fiction. It is not just a dream. It is a reality- in the making. Are you ready?
On behalf of His Excellency the President of the Portuguese Republic, I would like to thank you very much for the letter you kindly sent him on the last 30th of May, which was worthy of his best attention.
Please accept, Mrs. Jennifer Hyland, the expression of my consideration and esteem.