Geo016 - Exploration of Mars

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Geo016 / Exploration of Mars / (M) 3:00-5:20 / Lincoln Field 105 / Prof. James Head

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Andrew Baum (03/17/04)

Let me start out by saying that the CAVE was incredible. I imagined that it would be interesting, but more of a movie to watch. Actually being able to go onto the surface of a different planet and fly into the Olympus Mons Volcano, or speed through the Valus Marinerus in 3D was amazing. It is one thing to learn about Mars and see pictures and what not of certain structures on Mars in a classroom setting. But I really benefited from being able to navigate the surface of Mars in person (almost). Now, I feel like I could explain the geography of Mars one hundred times better than I could previous to this experience. I am not sure if it was the actual being on Mars which fascinated me, or if it was just my being in this surreal 3D replica of a world unknown to me. I am at a loss for words to tell how excited I was. Maybe I will be able to go back to the CAVE later on in my Brown career. To much exploring, however, made me a little dizzy.

I think that this kind of research and technological development is a great asset to us as a growing and learning nation. I feel like these types of technologies will not only aid those interested in learning more about space, but also will inspire those who didn't realize they had any interest to want to learn more (including myself). Developments of this nature will be a big help in the near future. Once we are able to get higher resolution maps, and greater detailed maps, this technology will have many more benefits. For example, it may be a device that can train spacemen (and women) how to function on a different surface. It will show just how many obstacles there are on the surface…especially on Mars. This will let us be much better prepared for if/ when we ever send humans to Mars. I also think it can help to train humans how to do certain tests, what type of things they should be looking for on the surface, and what to do if a problem arises. It will also give us a better idea of where we want to go on the planet whenever we get up there…help us find the key areas. All of this will let humans have a much more successful mission and be much more productive during our first mission to Mars. All in all, I think the technology needs work still, but I think we are on the right track for success.

As far as sending humans into space, I think it is a great idea. If there are people willing to go into orbit around our planet, the moon, Mars, or who knows where else, then I think they should do it. It will appease them, and it will help us gain a lot of knowledge about the place we are living in. Yes, it is a hefty expense, and sometimes I wonder if it really needs to be soooo expensive. I almost feel like if people worked together, we could build a much cheaper shuttle, and have a lot more money for…other things. Getting back on track though, I think space exploration is good for us as a growing nation and is something that either will happen now or will happen later, so we might as well do it in our lifetime. I know that I would like to hear all the discoveries that we can make before I am old and gone. So I figure, the more the merrier.

I want to thank everyone who helped us out with the CAVE, it was a really great experience for me and I am glad I had the opportunity to be involved in it. I look forward to discussing “Mars on Earth” next class. I am interested to see whether there are any similarities between Antarctica, and what I saw in the CAVE. Thanks again and see everyone next week.


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