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I'm all in favour of space travel. But purely from a scientific standpoint, what can be done by sending people to Mars that can't be done by sending probes?

EDIT: To clarify (as in the comments), I meant what scientific tests/etc. do we want to do now that we can't with current probe/rover technology, but that we could feasibly do if we sent a person there. I'm not entirely sure if this is too broad or not.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a duplicate of What can an astronaut do better than the Curiosity rover? which was closed as too broad. This one isn't any more specific, I'm afraid. For example, should we compare human capabilities only with current technological capabilities? In that case, e.g. an astronaut can walk many times the speed of any rover we ever sent on Mars. So it's not only about the type of science, but also its quantity, decreasing time interval and/or increasing range between sampling,... Which enables other types of science being done. And so on. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Aug 13 '15 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ Mainly things we don't know we'd want to do until we do send people there. So it's about mission adaptability / flexibility. But also everything that rovers and landers are already doing, but with more sample points. So it's also about quantity, which drives science data reliability / quality. Rovers also won't tell you how something feels like, so also about human experience. Etc. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Aug 13 '15 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ That would be an interesting separate question, but yes, to a degree, they were improvised, sure. There wouldn't be any point in doing science up there if we already knew exactly what to expect. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Aug 13 '15 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ A single field geologist could've walked the distance Curiosity has traveled during 3 years IN ONE DAY! And drill much more often, and collect samples to return to Earth, and choose much better samples. Especially if she had a wagon with some instruments to drag along manually. Curiosity gets only one set of commands per day, at best. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Aug 14 '15 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ These are not my words; I read them somewhere on the 'net years ago. To my best recollection, it went something like this: "Today the Mars science team announced results from the Mars rovers. After days of navigating to a rock and hours of drilling by the rover, followed by more days of analysis on the ground, those Mars scientists announced that the rock was volcanic. Now imagine Harrison Schmitt on Mars. With a few steps he would have reached the rock. With one whack of his hammer and a few seconds of analysis, he would have deemed the rock to be volcanic." $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Aug 14 '15 at 14:12
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I think you probably could do the same science with rovers and robots for a lot of the things. But by sending humans to Mars you also get to study the humans, and how their bodies cope on Mars.

It is also an engineering challenge. Science deals with data and a lot of the theoretical side and the new discoveries. But the engineering that goes into a mission like taking people to Mars is also going to make a lot of discoveries about what really works and about how to keep people alive in long-duration space flight, and landing and taking off from another planet. I think even if there is no scientific value this probably would be a worthwhile mission just for the discoveries you could make by doing a manned mission to Mars as an engineering challenge.

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