The main reason is that Mars is a very unhealthy place, not just for humans but for all life. Forget the temperature extremes. The biggest problem with Mars for maintaining life is that it has almost no protection against radiation. It has no iron core like Earth and thus it does not have the magnetic field that protects humans from cosmic rays and solar mass ejections.
Read this article for more information.
Six feet of soil can shield against cosmic rays as can a few centimeters of water. Since hauling water to Mars hardly seems practical, unless an ample water supply is found on Mars, the "explorers" will have to be satisfied with living and exploring under the surface.
Also, the human body is so adapted to our level of gravity that almost absent gravity (as in the space station) damages bone density. In a large space craft that rotates, you can use centrifugal force to simulate gravity, but how do you do that on the surface of Mars? Not exactly a vacation and no place anyone would want to live for long.
Terraforming isn't practical unless there's a way to give the planet a magnetic field. Otherwise, the atmosphere will simply be lost to space.
What do you think?
So, the real reason to go to Mars is that there might be GOLD there (or something else that can be turned into a Mercedes or yacht)?
Right, Unseen - thar's gold in them thar craters --
I grew up in a world where TV's operated on vacuum tubes - ask 10 people today what a vacuum tube is and wait for the answers. I can't even begin to list all of the innovations that arose out of our 1960's race for the moon, and what did we get for our expenditure? A few pounds of rocks, none of which, Unseen, were gold.
But there was gold to be mined from the venture, and not a few yachts and Mercedes as well, for those with the insight to develop those innovations and turn them into consumer goods.
I am a little unclear about the idea of turning the Moon into 'consumer goods'. I quess my youthful focus on a yacht or Mercedes has changed.
The gold is in the going --
I've often wondered if possibly the rotation of a planet could be sped up by attaching rockets to the bedrock and firing them simultaneously in the direction of rotation - granted, there may be a few logistics to work out, but I'm the idea man - I leave it to the little people like Unseen to flesh out the details.
I suspect it would take a lot of unimaginably strong rockets to have much impact. Besides, if anything, increasing the rate of rotation would offset gravity through centrifugal force, making low gravity even lower effectively.
So are you saying that the gravity on Earth would be greater if centrifugal force were eliminated because the planet didn't rotate?
it's not that gravity would be stronger or weaker, just that we would also be experiencing an "apparent" opposite force caused by the rotation of the earth. The speed of rotation could then be used to determine the size of the apparent opposite force.
I was just fishing for why someone would want to do that. That came to mind, but then later it occurred to me that the experience of gravity is about the same at the equator and the north pole.
You could similarly slow down a fast rotation by pointing the rockets the other way.
Another strategy might be to aim comets or asteroids appropriately, but you would not want to live there while it's happening. But again, it would take simply ridiculous amounts of whatever it is you are thinking of. (Imagine doing the same to earth--even doing it to just the part of the earth you can see between here and the horizon--to change its speed a couple of hundred miles an hour, and you start to get a vague idea of a millionth or billionth of the cost of doing this)
Mars is the one planet where this really doesn't need to be done, though; its day is 24 and a fraction hours, closer to ours than any other planet in our solar system.
If there is to be any serious space colonizing, I sure as fuck won't be around to see it happen. Thus, I give no fucks as to weather or not we make it out into the stars.