My dear fellow slashdotter,
Thank you for asking these questions in exactly the right place. I would like to offer you some answers to your questions. At first I tried to answer them from bottom to top, but I found out that each question has some relation to the previous one, so I did it top to bottom. My sincere excuses for the delay coming forth from my misconception. Again, this IS the best place to ask these questions! For your convenience I have put a 'Q' in front of your question, and an 'A' in front of the Answer.
Q> What *is* space exploration? When something like the humble Voyager 1 probe can continue giving usable data for such a long time, it should cause us to ask, why haven't our other missions been as successful?
A> Space exploration is the exploration of the stuff on the outside of the planet earth (or Gaia as some seaweed-cracker eating nutjobs call it)
Q> The Mars rovers are another example. [xkcd.com] When you consider the scale and complexity of their task, the rovers comparatively performed on par with Voyager 1.
A> This is not really a way to ask something, is it?
Q> You might say, "We can't plan for what it does after the mission is over, that's kind of the point of having a defined *mission plan*" and to that I say 'hogwash'
A> Again, this is not really a proper way to ask something, is it? Please leave your comments on wired.com
Q> It is my firm belief that humans should be taking vacations on Luna *now* and soon stepping foot on Mars. We could do it. Why aren't we?
A> The main reason that we do not go on holiday on the moon, or Luna as some amateurs prefer, is usually one of the following:
1 - no bars
2 - no beaches with ladies in swimming attire
3 - more importantly: no beaches with ladies in half their swimming attire.
4 - (if you are a reader of the Guardian) no museums
5 - you *constantly* have to remember where your towel is.
6 - Flip-flops fit really badly on these so-called moon-boots.
7 - any of the above
Q> NASA is a tool. Are we using it to its fullest?
A> NASA is an abbreviation, or more specifically it is an acronym, not a tool. A hammer is an example of a tool.
Hopefully I answered your questions fully and may I add that the answers provided here are conclusive. If you somehow feel in need of a second opinion from another /.visitor you can request so by filing form 82BKO0E3#9320B/fsF-109 at your local Vogon station on each seventh Wednesday of the month on odd-numbered-months-even-numbered-years between 11:59 and 12:00AM or in the trash-bin whenever you feel like.
With kind regards,
The /.space council & climate change spindoctors.