Yes, when we consider space exploration there are many bountiful trips awaiting us, but for me and for many others it is: that bountiful trip to Mars. Yep, I know, there are already tons of arguments in favor of this astro mission and I will try to not repeat them.
There was probably some level of life on Mars, and maybe there still is. What is vital is that we learn the details. I believe Mars was well along the way in evolutionary development when something happened. We need to fully investigate that and understand what happened. Why?
First, we need to understand the entire planetary process and threats thereto. This will help us not only to better understand and protect our home planet, but come to understand what is happening with the increasing number of exoplanets that we are finding.
Secondly, we need to know as much as possible as to what happened to Mars, if anything. It is highly possible that nothing has happened and good old Mars is just as always. I doubt this, as many others do. We then need to get onto that planet with astro missions so that we can amplify and expand all that good stuff our faithful roborovers have dug up for us.
In following the second mission above, we begin to build a geological and biological history of Mars that is essential. We take it back to its beginning as much as we can. This takes the special and personal skills/knowledge of research scientists – on site. This implies the creation of a full fledged Mars station.
Lastly, before we can do any of the above, we need to be sure we can operate safely in an essentially cosmic rad environment. Mars may be very hostile for humankind. NASA’s next Mars rover will be evaluating that. If the results indicate we can safely operate on Mars, then we must start that trip to bountiful as soon as possible. The answers we find will both amaze and most probably preserve us.
Oh my, whenever skies are dark and clear I look up, and a skyslide of bountiful explorations descend upon me. I am enriched with both challenge and inspiration. The constant message is: We are here; are you coming?