To the editor: There is an element of pathos in Elena Shateni's belief that she can start a "new life" on Mars. ("Patt Morrison Asks: Elena Shateni on going to Mars -- and never coming back," op-ed, March 3)
The environment of Mars is completely hostile to human life. Nothing grows on that planet. The atmosphere is poisonous and too thin to protect humans against the deadly radiation that pervades space.
Humans cannot survive on Mars except in thick-walled radiation-barrier shelters, with an artificial atmosphere and regular shipments of supplies from Earth. No rational human who understands what Mars is like would want to be there.
We humans are too intelligent to need to go to Mars to learn everything we want to know about the planet.
We can delegate this task to robots such as the rover Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars for years and transmitting enormous amounts of data about Mars' topography and chemical composition.
Al Barrett, Santa Monica