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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Josef Tallo (03/10/04)

One of the main topics that we discussed were the geography of earth compared to mars and the moon. Although we may not have always know how different mars is from earth, we have always assumed that the environment is somewhat similar, in that life would exist in the same way, and thrive on similar sources as it does here on earth. There are three main ways in which mars is different than earth. First, mars is covered in dust unlike earth, which has moist soil and visible liquid water. Second, Mars apparently has these huge dust storm that sometimes are big enough to cover the entire planet. Earth can be windy, but not that windy. Earth is dominated by water in a similar way, but it is restricted to the oceans where it is contained. Another important aspect of the Mars environment the makes it so much different from earth, is its weather and atmosphere. Mars has seasons just as earth does, except that mars lacks the precipitation and oceans that are very important for the change in climate. Also, Mars climate is much thinner than earth's, so heat is easily lost. Which is why Mars is generally cold, and can reach temperatures unimaginable to earth.

We also discussed the water, ice, and volcanoes on Mars. I was amazed when Prof. Head explained what would happen if a human were to put water on Mars. I just never realized how the differences in the environments could cause such a drastic change to the state of water. I was also very surprised to learn that Mars' obliquity changes are to drastic. I had no idea that the changes in the degree of the tilt were so great, and happened so suddenly. Such changes would make life as we know it unable to thrive on such environment changes. Which brings up a thought that I have noticed that scientists tend to do a lot. I find it puzzling that those who study the environment on Mars always look for something that resembles the attributes of particular substances on earth. We know that Mars is very different from earth, and we have yet to find any form of life, but we still try to look for things based off of what we know to be true for earth. Scientists are always comparing their findings to something that is even remotely similar to something on earth, and I find that although we really don't have anything else to compare it to, we shouldn't limit the possibilities to what we know about earth.



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