A new national opinion poll has found a “Mars Generation” that’s confident humans will go to Mars by 2033.
When told that there are currently two operational NASA rovers on Mars – the NASA Curiosity and Opportunity rovers — 67 percent of respondents agreed the U.S. should send both humans and robots to Mars,
The early poll findings are according to a preliminary snapshot report from the independent market research team of Phillips & Company.
The poll found that 71 percent of Americans are convinced that humans will trek to Mars by 2033. In addition, the poll found that Americans, on average, believe that NASA spending represents 2.4 percent of the federal budget, with a standard deviation of 1.68 percent.
In reality, the Administration’s request for NASA for FY2013 was $17.7 billion representing approximately 0.5 percent of the federal budget.
After being presented with this percentage, 75 percent of Americans said they “Strongly Agree” or “Agree” that it is worthwhile to increase NASA’s percentage of the federal budget to 1 percent to fund a mission to Mars.
“Despite difficult economic times, the American people are still inspired by space exploration and are committed to human exploration of Mars,” said Chris Carberry, Executive Director of Explore Mars. “This is a wakeup call to our leaders that Americans are still explorers.”
Top three reasons
According to the majority of Americans, the top three reasons for human exploration of Mars are:
— To achieve a greater understanding of Mars,
— To search for signs of life, and
— To maintain U.S. leadership in commercial, scientific and national defense applications.
When asked to rank potential barriers to Mars exploration, 73 percent of Americans believe that the greatest barrier is affordability and 67 percent believe politics to be a limiting barrier. Technological capabilities and motivation are not seen as significant barriers by the majority of Americans.
The survey was conducted between Feb. 4, 2013, and Feb. 6, 2013, targeting a “stratified random sample” of 1,101 respondents representing a 95% confidence level and margin of error of +/-3%. The survey was conducted by email and targeted a nationwide sample. All efforts were made to ensure a representative sample of the U.S. population 18 years and older given normal standards of statistical sampling.
The “Mars Generation” survey was conducted by the independent market research team at Phillips & Company and sponsored by Explore Mars, Inc., a non-profit organization, and The Boeing Corporation.
A full report containing the survey findings is scheduled to be released in early March. The full report will include additional findings by region, education-level, income-level and ethnicity.
By Leonard David