Proposal to Buy Siberia

"A trillion (dollars) or two for Siberia . . . a better buy than the other 'new frontier' on offer"? Absurd. For less than 1% of that figure we can have a permanent human presence on the moon.

"Dan Quayle wants to spend trillions of dollars to send people to Mars . . . Siberia is closer." Do your homework, Mr. Mead. Dr. Robert Zubrin of Martin Marietta in Denver has published numerous papers on the "Mars Direct" mission that can land four people on Mars within a decade, for a cost closer to $50 billion. For less than 10% of those straw-man "trillions" we can have human colonies spread across the surface of Mars--a planet whose area is roughly the same as that of all our continents added together.

Never mind Mt. Rushmore. The leader who gets people to build lunar bases and Mars bases will have his--or her--face sculpted into the crags of Nix Olympica, the Martian volcano that dwarfs any mountains here at home.

Jefferson was right to make the Louisiana Purchase, though many of his compatriots snickered. We need a leader with the vision of American scientist Robert Goddard, who flew the world's first liquid- fueled rocket; or of the late Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, who convinced millions of free people to demand a space program; or Los Angeles' own Ray Bradbury. It's time to sweep aside the re-spun old ideas of Walter Russell Mead and start writing the real "Martian Chronicles"!

JONATHAN V. POST, Altadena. Post is a scientist who has worked on the Voyager, Space Shuttle, Lunar Base and Mars Base projects, among others.

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