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In tribute to Charlton Heston, Russia has begun a real-life Planet of the Apes.
April 14, 2008 12:50 PM   Subscribe

By 2020, Mars may have monkeys, adding to the impressive roster of primates in space.
posted by myopicman (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sea Monkeys On Mars.
posted by ericb at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2008


Are we sure Mars hasn't already been colonized by monkeys? I mean, it's a pretty big place, and monkeys can be pretty wily.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:06 PM on April 14, 2008


Next Jupiter, and Saturn, then at long last, monkeys will fly out of Uranus.
posted by brain_drain at 1:10 PM on April 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Classified photo of the first primate the Russians hope to shoot into space
posted by Kabanos at 1:20 PM on April 14, 2008


Prolonged weightlessness, isolation, a liquid and goo diet, plenty o' radiation, and then death. Poor monkeys.

Just send hairless apes if that's the goal. The line of capable people willing to risk it would stretch right round the Kremlin.
posted by pracowity at 1:23 PM on April 14, 2008


You forgot the humans!
posted by kldickson at 1:28 PM on April 14, 2008


I like the phrase, "approximately identical," best.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:33 PM on April 14, 2008


Monkeys? No, no, no... Mars needs Women!
posted by Class Goat at 1:39 PM on April 14, 2008


I love spaceflight, exploration and the whole shebang, but apart of me cringes whenever I hear ideas about sending highly non-sterile lifeforms (ourselves, monkeys, mice, whatever) to Mars.

Mars could potentially harbor indigenous bacteria-like organisms which could potentially resemble life on Earth -- but if we spread our monkey-seeds across the planet, it would be impossible to ever say definitively if any particular bacterium we come across really originated on Mars or just hitched a ride from Earth in the decaying carcass of a monkey.

Also, insert 100-page dissertation on why human spaceflight to Mars is expensive, wasteful and unnecessary [here].
posted by Avenger at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2008


You're both wrong... Mars Needs Guitars
posted by psmealey at 2:09 PM on April 14, 2008


I like the phrase "approximately identical" (from the first link).
posted by pombe at 2:13 PM on April 14, 2008


Pretty much raises all the same ethical, humane treatment red flags as Project X. And yes, everything I know about ethics I did learn from 1980s Matthew Broderick movies.
posted by Skwirl at 2:13 PM on April 14, 2008


MetaFilter: just hitched a ride from Earth in the decaying carcass of a monkey.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2008


Colonizing a planet with damn dirty apes? Has the world learned nothing from the life of Charleton Heston?
posted by PlusDistance at 2:29 PM on April 14, 2008


You'd rather they sent fluffy little kitties instead?
posted by Dizzy at 2:33 PM on April 14, 2008


I didn't get it at first; most of the point of sending humans to Mars right now would be to make decisions and operate scientific equipment without the ridiculous Earth->Mars round trip latency in the way, but surely for those sorts of tasks we can program a robot better than we can train a monkey? There's also an interesting question of what the medical effects are of prolonged time at 1/3rd gravity (are your bones and muscles 2/3rds as screwed, or is the problem nonlinear?) But, while you could test that with monkeys you can probably test it more effectively with humans in Low Earth Orbit. Putting a spaceship, counterweight, and tether spinning in LEO is more convenient than putting just the spaceship on Mars, and human astronauts are probably slightly more likely than monkeys to stick to their prescribed exercise program.

But the article explains: it's all about the radiation exposure testing. And while monkeys may not be ideal for this (can you train them to reliably huddle in a cramped shelter area for the duration of solar flare ups?), they're probably a good start.

On the other hand, it would be much simpler to just forget the problems of learning to build for and survive in suboptimal conditions. Avenger's dissertation doesn't go far enough, though; just think of how much effort we've been wasting struggling everything from ice ages to food that doesn't raise itself, when we still haven't fixed our problems at home near Olduvai Gorge!
posted by roystgnr at 2:37 PM on April 14, 2008


...if we spread our monkey-seeds across the planet, it would be impossible to ever say definitively if any particular bacterium we come across really originated on Mars or just hitched a ride from Earth in the decaying carcass of a monkey.

Well, it depends. If native Martian life is an example of panspermia, carried out to Mars from Earth by the solar wind, then you're pretty much right.

But if native Martian life is an independent origination, then even if it uses exactly the same DNA, RNA and amino acids, the odds of it using exactly the same translation matrix from RNA triples to amino acids is negligible. So if that translation matrix can be determined (and it isnt all that hard to do in a lab these days with the right equipment and sufficient budget) then if it uses the same translation matrix as we do, it's either recent contamination or panspermia. If it uses an entirely differen translation matrix, it's an independent origination.
posted by Class Goat at 3:15 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Athena's monkeys will kick Mars' monkeys little pink asses.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:40 PM on April 14, 2008


I like the phrase, "approximately identical," best.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:33 PM on April 14 [+] [!]

I like the phrase "approximately identical" (from the first link).
posted by pombe at 2:13 PM on April 14 [+] [!]

Hey! Those two comments are roughly indistinguishable!
posted by kcds at 5:54 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is the "Bion" space capsule some sort of orgone box, perhaps launched by a Cloudbuster?
posted by Tube at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2008


"I'm sure scientists will repeat the story of Laika, the first dog in space. Today it's no secret that the dog died from the nervous stress immediately after the rocket launch and its dead body revolved in orbit for two weeks."


Actually, no. We know she likely died from overheating anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days into the launch. And true Laika was probably crapping her doggy spacesuit, but that's why we have ketamine nowadays.

Besides, if you want to stress out a monkey there are more creative ways.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 8:38 PM on April 14, 2008


Oh how I wish for an ecological mercenary squad armed to the teeth who could go and execute every single motherfucker at the Sochi Institute of Medical Primatology.
posted by cmonkey at 10:49 PM on April 14, 2008


What if when the monkeys left Earth, the Earth blew up during the mission? They'd be our planet's only envoys at that point, commanding technology they definitely didn't build. I'd recommend including a manual that perhaps fools other civilizations into surmising that the macaques did in fact construct this vessel to explore other planets.
posted by myopicman at 11:46 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


one small step for Man .. one spastic leap for Monkeykind
posted by celerystick at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2008


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