Jay Angler wrote:I know a bunch about the things that weren't considered and just how difficult it would really be to create a "life" on Mars or in any spaceship, compared to simply "existing".
And I think that this has a lot to do with why this path of research is valuable. Certainly, effectively growing crops on an improved Earth is a far easier path; but a wise man once said, "Gaia isn't sick, she's pregnant!". And while I'm not a Gaia-ist myself, the thought experiment of imagining the whole of the Earth, humanity included, as a single meta-organism does have merit. In this context, humanity is the mind of Gaia; as the only portion that can think critically, learn, develop technology and act according to a purpose. So if Gaia is pregnant, humanity is a necessary component to get the newborn off-planet. To that end, we have to understand ourselves and our environment well enough to replicate it in a tiny fraction of volume and mass, and keep it in balance long enough to establish itself elsewhere.