In case you missed it, we landed another rover on Mars. This rover is called perseverance and it’s first images have been absolutely breath taking. This project has been years in the making and is another step in the right direction towards our exploration of space.

The Perseverance mission has been estimated by NASA to cost $2.7 billion or $2.9 billion adjusted for inflation over 11 years. This translates to $263.64 million a year for the Mars rover. Although this may seem like an astronomical number, today I want to compare that cost to some other things to really analyze the cost benefit of this extraordinary feat!

Things Americans Spend More Money on than the Mars Rover

I found a really neat list of annual spending by category over on Mental Floss. Here are just a few items that American’s spend more money on than the Mars Rover.

  • Drinking Beer on the 4th of July : $1 Billion a year
  • Eating Cheetos, Doritos and Funyons: $4.8 Billion a year
  • Fixing Car Damage caused by potholes: $3 Billion a year
  • Buying Bags of Ice: $3 Billion a year
  • Cosmetic Surgery: $13.5 Billion a year
  • Treating Acid Indigestion: $2 Billion a year
  • Buying Lottery Tickets: $80.55 Billion a year
  • Graduation Gifts: $5.4 Billion a year

It is amazing how much money we spend on different things. It really puts the cost of the Mars Rover into perspective. I say the next NASA project we start a lottery. Everyone purchases a ticket for $2 and you get a chance for either a mars rock or 5 minutes of controlling the rover. I think it could take off, give me a call NASA I’ll help you out!

Things the US Spends Their Tax Dollars On

NASA however is a government entity and this project was paid for with US tax dollars. I found a great article over on The Balance that breaks down government spending for FY 2020. We will take a look at what the government spends their money on annually and compare that to the Mars Rover.

  • Agriculture : $184 billion a year or 63.45 rovers
  • Defense : $690 billion a year or 237.93 rovers
  • Education : $204 billion a year or 70.34 rovers
  • Energy : $32 billion a year or 11.03 rovers
  • Interest on Debt: $523 billion or 180.34 rovers

These are just a few examples of the government budget, but you can certainly head over to The Balance for the full breakdown. I am not saying that we should eliminate any of the great social programs the government has, just how wild it is in comparison the spending that is taking place.

Scientific Achievement and Money

There are some really steep in roads between advancing science and what the government is willing to spend money on. Just last year we saw how quickly we can advance science (thank god for the vaccines) when there are appropriate resources being put in place. The data being collected from Perseverance will be studied for years to come and in the grand scheme of things, is relatively inexpensive.

There are tons of other issues with money and scientific achievement particularly at the institutional level but that is a conversation for another day. The other benefit of the mars rover comes from the cost of it. That money was spent by the government and has been injected into our economy already. Now we are not only gaining the financial benefit but also the scientific as well.

Mars Rover Cost

So, what do you guys think about the mars rover cost? Do you think the money should be spent on things like income inequality? Or do you think this is a worthwhile endeavor for the government to spend roughly $3 billion on? Let me know in the comments below!

As always don’t forget to follow me on twitter and we can always continue the conversation there.