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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Alexandra Grassian (04/08/04)

We discussed many different topics in class this week, ranging from why humans explore to the president's initiative. We also listened to the piece of music, “Signal from Mars” and Lillian told us about her trip with the Space Club to Houston.

We had a long discussion about just why human's need to explore. Is a genetic trait, and would everyone posses it? Is it used as a survival mechanism, both by humans and animals? Or is it simply out of curiosity? The actual definition of exploration is to make or conduct a systematic search for the purpose of discovery. Personally, I believe that all humans have some inborn need to explore – after all, we often witness babies crawling around and just trying to see everything and learn as much as they can about everything. Also, animals often leave their niche in search of other places to live. It could be simply a survival method, in order to find new places to live and new resources to exploit, as it was in many of the cases for humans in the fifteenth century. Obviously, though, some humans (and animals) display this trait more than others; some people are content to just stay in one place their whole lives and never see the outside world. Others seem driven from birth to go out and explore. One thing to consider, too, is that I believe the need to explore can manifest itself in many different ways. There are, after all, many different ways to “explore.” I, for example, do not really enjoy traveling that much, but when it comes to expanding my knowledge I really enjoy it. My exploration takes place in labs and classes, rather than in boats or jungles. So it seems, at least to me, that almost every human has the drive to explore, even if everyone might not consider their exploration to be true “discovery.”

We also talked about the best way to “sell” the proposal of devoting lots of money to further the exploration of both the moon and Mars. We had many different ideas, ranging from giving cold hard facts about how it would boost the economy, or simply imploring to the innate human desire to learn about their outside. Personally, I think that in order to convince both the government and the population of United States, both tactics would have to be employed. The government does make the ultimate decision, but it is the people's opinions that are the driving force for their decisions. Money is always a huge driving factor, and in order to get the government to be willing to spend so much, they would really have to have the people rally behind them.

I thought it was so interesting to be able to hear the piece of music, “A Signal from Mars.” It really was not at all what I had been expecting. I thought it would either be a very eerie piece or something that sounded like that music that is often played in science fiction films. Instead, it seemed almost happy and inviting. It makes me wonder how our perceptions of space have changed over time.

It was really cool hearing about the Space Club's visit to Houston. Its an interesting concept, testing various apparatuses with no gravity. It's something I never would have seen as a necessity, yet it is obviously something we should start considering now, and something that will definitely become very important in the near future.

As for the president's initiative, I feel like I really just need to know more of the facts before I can formulate any sort of opinion. It seems like so much money to spend, when only a fifth of that is spent every year on education. There are so many schools that are still under funded. Not to mention all the medical research that could be furthered by more money. As much as I want to know more about Mars, the moon and the rest of our solar system, I just see such a need for that money hear on Earth.
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