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 (04/14/04)

It was a very unique lecture considering its format and the amount of topics we asked and discussed. It was strange to be listening to a voice coming from the telecom at first, but as he presented us with various materials, we all became comfortable, as if talking to someone actually in the class. Although some of the basics about Mars in the PowerPoint presentation were what we already covered in class before, it was refreshing and the pieces of knowledge I had about Mars now seemed to have been put together into organized information.

I have been, for the majority of time spent thinking about the class materials, quite curious why the scientists, explorers and most of related people always mention “water” when they talk about discovering things on Mars. Of course water is one of the crucial elements in forming life, but the big picture of “life-climate-geology-planet” did not come to my mind until now. It is indeed true that water is involved in all those listed above, and no other element can even exist without water.

The concise information about future Mars exploration plans was helpful for my understanding of NASA and government's motives for new discovery. I was surprised at the detail and complexity of each plan in the near future. After knowing that there will be another ground robot in 2007 as well as an orbiter and a rover in 2009, Mars, for a moment, seemed to be in our vicinity, just like Antarctica where people visit for researches in variety of areas. Frankly, I had not quite understand the actual benefit we humans on Earth would get from those explorations. Upon getting the information, I have nothing to say, knowing how enormous the improvements in many areas of science and human life will the rovers, and possibly, human explorers of Mars result in.

Dr. Garvin's opinion on sending humans to Mars was more convincing than any other readings we have done. Notwithstanding the huge cost and time we will need to sacrifice, the possible outcome resulting from greater ability of human explorers was nothing we could simply ignore. It does cost the US government hundreds of billions, and it does take the astronauts one to one and half years to complete the roundtrip to Mars. However, those facts could be offset by the distance humans can walk every day while on Mars, the rapid adaptation ability of explorers, and more logical, sometimes objective, judgment skill that humans possess which might turn out to be critical in detecting subtle evidence on the surface of Mars.
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