This course is designed to enable freshmen to learn of the rich intellectual and scientific history of the exploration of Mars, starting with the early fascination of the 'red planet' in the sky, through Lowell's canals and civilizations, to the dawn of the modern era with spacecraft exploration and the involvement of Brown's own Tim Mutch (Geology) and William Patterson (Engineering) in the design and operation of the Viking lander cameras. Furthermore, the excitement of the NASA Spirit and Opportunity landers and rovers will bring new findings to the students every single day of the semester. This course will be taught in the context of the environment of exciting planetary geoscience results on Mars derived from the research of several other members of the Department. Included will be personal experience with 30 years of involvement in NASA's planetary exploration of Mars and other planets, as well as field work from last year in the Mars-like Dry Valleys of Antarctica.
Among the exciting aspects of this course will be the use of the Immersive Virtual Reality facility at Brown known as the CAVE. On the basis of work that I have done there during my first semester sabbatical, students will be able to explore the surface of Mars with this facility in a meaningful manner as part of their course work. Finally, we will place this in the context of future human exploration of Mars by bringing one of the Apollo astronauts to Brown to discuss his visit to the Moon and together work on possible future landing sites on Mars. We will also have telecons with Brown graduates and others who are currently involved in the exploration of Mars and planning the future of Mars exploration.