It’s now been eight days since the Phoenix Mars Lander touched down on the red planet. For many of us here the sights have been thrilling, and the opportunity for the University of Arizona to strengthen its reputation as a world class research institution is something that will ultimately benefit many residents of our state.

Despite the success of the lander, recently published letters to some newspapers have called into question the relevance of such science in the face of more pressing needs here on earth.

Peter Smith, Principal Investigator of the Phoenix Mars Mission, responds to questions about the cost of the mission and the justification for such a large expenditure of financial resources.