The man challenging Mars
Peter Theisinger is the Project Manager for the mission to Mars that includes the rover 'Curiosity.'
September 3rd, 2012
09:15 AM ET

The man challenging Mars

By Jim Roope, CNN

Editor's note: Listen to the complete story in the player above.

(CNN) – The rover ‘Curiosity’ will soon begin its search for evidence of past life on Mars.

Back on Earth, Peter Theisinger is ready for the search to begin. He's Project Manager for the 'Mars Science Laboratory,' the mission that includes 'Curiosity.'

[3:16] “Question number one is, are we alone?”

He's worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California since 1967 and began the expeditions to Mars in 1971 with the orbiter ‘Mariner.’

[3:05] “Of all the places in this Solar System which are possible past habitats for life, Mars is closest to us.”

For Theisinger, the goal of all space exploration work is to move humanity forward.

Are we alone? Is it important for the US to invest in space exploration? Let us know what you think by joining the conversation in the comments section.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. tony dinkel

    Thank you jim. Excellent story, well researched and very well presented.


    September 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Farrok

    Here in America we are walking around knee deep in garbage, no employment, no healthcare and we are spending money on war and going to Mars? This mission to Mars is nothing more than a leach on the taxpayers.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      I am not walking in garbage and I have a job... maybe you should go back where ever you came from... we don't owe foreigners jobs – go home – stay there.

      September 4, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Shaddup

      I'd rather my tax money go to space exploration than feeding the drug habits of unemployed people who rape the system.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. godsplat

    I think it would be great to discover evidence of life on another planet and I think that it is something that we should never give up on looking for, I hope there is life outside of our planet Earth but all the same I can except the possibility of Earth being a freak of nature and holding the only life that exists. This being said I also think that we should try as hard as we can to find a new world for life to live on before this one can no longer sustain it. Even if we never find a new world for life, we should never give up trying!

    September 4, 2012 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
    • shuttleCOCKsucker

      I hope the annunaki return, so that all humans get their asses handed.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Andrew

    They estimate around 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe alone. Within each galaxy there are billions upon billions of stars. Hell, in our solar system alone there are 8 planets 3 of which are terrestrial and a few of the big ones have dozens of moons orbiting around them.

    There is a WHOLE lot of stuff to explore.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. John

    this reminds me of a story i read about a year ago on CNN, a private company is looking towards platinum and other rare elements in space for space mining, they already have the design for the mining craft to touch down on asteroids for this, they just need enough investors, and they are getting them. pause now and look, the future is upon us.....

    September 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimroopecnn

      Wow, thanks. I don't remember that story. I'll have to search it. Sounds interesting. Thanks for taking time to post a comment.

      September 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zak

    I do not believe we are alone in the universe. It is to big and too vast not to have any some kind of life in it. Look at Humanity. We are living proof that aliens exist. We are aliens in a galactic sense but not on Earth since we think of our selves top animals of the kingdom and we are in fact. If we were to find other civilizations in the galaxy or universe, it not only would answer the question are we alone the universe but it would major implications on religion and thinking. Our old way of thinking would become history. It is very exciting to be the first young technological generation (generation z, I am) to be part of the golden age coming. Look at the advancements in science, medicine and industry. We are progressing at a faster rate than any time in Human history. To answer the second question. It is essential and a priority to invest in space exploration. The old generations were lucky to live in a less polluted than it is now. Even if we do find some other alternative method of clean fuel to use in our transportation, it's going to be a while before countries start using. Right now, it is 2012. Years from now when I am graduated from high school, there are going to many changes in our world. Our homeoworld. The one that strikes me the most is overpopulation. Right now our world population is at 7.037 billion. It is going to turn 8 billion sometime. There hasn't been any number of humans living on this planet of that number but it will happen. It will keep increasing. That is why our next plan is space. Space is the only other option. Eventually we will advance to a level of technology for space colonization. And hopefully planet terraforming. We can use our solar system for the overpopulation when it gets to the point. Also, when we develop a way to travel FTL travel, we can spread humanity throughout the known universe. This is not science fiction. It is and bound to happen sometime. If we do not consider space a viable option of living in, then we might as well all die because there is not going to be enough room on this planet for overpopulation. Space exploration needs to be addressed soon. If we wait too long or do nothing about our current crisis and potential future ones, were going to have a harder time of thinking of ways to ensure the survival of Humanity. I do not want to see our race, our species, die off. We are special. The galaxy and universe are open to us and we must take advantage of it. For the good and greater of Humanity sake.

    September 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimroopecnn

      Thank you Zak, very thought provoking.

      September 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • dreamon

      Dream on. It will never happen at least not in your generation. Humans are limited by the laws of nature besides, the planet is bursting at the seams. In the next few years we will be worrying about our next meal; space exploration will be a thing of the past. The pressure to survive is mounting and there is no turning back.

      September 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Real Patriot

    why is there so much evidence of this all being filmed at pixar studios?

    September 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheese Eats Whitey

      Because the teabags handing from your hat obscure your vision.

      September 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jimroopecnn

    Well said, Terrie

    September 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Terrie.

    Life WILL find a way...so we may not find life as WE perceive it.

    We absolutely MUST carry on space exploration! Look at the wonderful things that have come from the need to adapt to alien environments that we now use every day.

    In the BIGGER picture...perhaps at some point, we'll realize that we need to change our thinking and behavior as a species as we learn JUST HOW SMALL we are compared to the wonders and beauty of the cosmos. We need to get our act together here on earth before settling new planets. But exploration on any level is vital for us...we MUST continue to learn, process and grow.

    September 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jimroopecnn

    Could it be that of all the planets and solar systems that Earth is the only planet with life?

    September 3, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |