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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Boyoun Choi (04/08/04)

As many people said in class, major explorations throughout the history had various purposes. It was to conquer the mysterious world, to discover new unknown things, to satisfy the needs of certain groups, or just to feel the achievement and become famous. Most of the time, explorations in national scale, like exploring Moon and Mars, or sending crew to Antarctica, are different from personal explorations such as hiking a tall mountain purely for individual contentment.

I don't have much information about the national initiative, so I wonder if the president's major goal is just the development of science and planetary knowledge, or if there is something more complicated behind the scene. Could it be for preserving America's reputation as the top in space-exploration program? I might get better understanding of the reasons of exploration and how science is incorporated into the process after we talk to actual astronauts who have been involved in those missions.

One of the most interesting things I've heard in class was the spring event of Brown Space Club that Lillian explained to us. Their experience seemed like the real “exploration,” the most exciting one. The members of the club participated with enthusiasm, I suppose, and that is why she said the experiments were mostly successful. If a group of people gather with a common interest and zeal, nothing seems impossible – I hope the same thing can be true for the exploration of Moon and Mars. It will be most effective and will bring us the best results when everyone set mind to one goal and not fight over individual gains.

I also learned from the article that methane is a key element in detecting the existence of life. The fact that such material can be detected from a probe orbiting Mars was very shocking. I always thought that discovering the contents of Martian soil can only be done by the exploration rovers that are actually on its surface. It will be interesting if we can send a rover with better ability in examining elements and isotopes of carbon and investigate the data related to evidence of biological activity on Mars.
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