James Kytta (03/10/04)
I was glad to dig into some of the science and geology behind Mars in this week's seminar. Understanding the science behind the fascination with the red planet will, I believe, facilitate more understanding as we view many of the other aspects of the study of Mars, such as why it is such a fascination to man and why Antarctica is considered the most Mars-like location on earth.
I found especially interesting the complete lack of plate tectonics on the other terrestrial planets and the moon. I have never really considered the notion that this geological phenomenon didn't exist as a part of the cycle of all planets. The fact that the moon and Mars both consist of only one plate was socking enough in itself, but learning how this preserves sites such as impact craters so that we may see what early earth looked like and also study other aspects of planetary life and formation reaffirmed in my mind the value of studying these places.
I also was intrigued by the idea that the moon was at one time a part of the earth. I find the idea fascinating, and never something I would have thought of were it not brought to my attention in these discussions. The thought of big space rocks crashing into the earth at any time is admittedly a scary though. I remember back in my elementary school days when we were discussing dinosaurs and the cause of their extinction. At the time it was thought that the mass death was due to a large meteor crashing into the earth, but I remember it was not totally accepted as fact, as even today some discount the idea's credibility. No one wants to believe that such a catastrophe befell a species of our planet, because in admitting it would mean realizing that such a fate could end us as well. The fact is we fear the end and are trying to convince ourselves it cannot be (Hollywood knows this- and they produce doomsday movies accordingly). I wonder how the general public's view would change, however, if they realized that every time they look into the sky at the moon they are staring at a product of their fears. The idea is an exciting one to apply.
The bliny dinner that I am humbled to have been able to take part in. The casual discussions we were able to take part in with such revered individuals is something I will always value. There is only so much learning that can be done from books. Listening to the sources of those texts speak, however, brings the material to life. I am sure that I will never again be able to float from room to room and listen to the scientist that pioneered the Soviet moon missions talk about the difficulties of parabolic radio satellite control while the Soviet Premiere's son discuss political as well as personal scientific aspects of the same pioneering explorations.