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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Kate Edwards (04/21/04)

The discussion with Mr. Scott was definitely interesting. What impressed me most was his frankness about the President's initiative. Although he was an astronaut, and therefore a proponent of space exploration, he did not agree with why the program was initiated. I agree with him that there is a lot of science that NASA is doing that is more important, and that at this point in time, we are not “ready” to go to Mars, either technologically, financially, or rationally. There just aren't enough reasons to justify the exploration at this point.

I thought his presentation was excellent, and it was interesting to notice the differences between his presentation and Jim Garvin's. Scott's was more oriented towards why the trip to Mars should not necessarily happen now and Garvin's was more oriented towards how the program definitely will happen. There was also a discrepancy in how the two talked about the financial aspect of the program's viability.

I am still in awe that I talked to someone who had been on the moon. I also thought it was interesting that after our conference with him, most people agreed that they could never actually go to the moon. I believe that I couldn't because I don't trust my ability to stay calm and I would probably be claustrophobic to even think about it. The magnitude of the trip would also leave a profound psychological effect on me that would change my perspective on life forever and might be overwhelming. I definitely admire the bravery of those who choose to participate in space exploration, however. Scott's discussion of the “mishap” on Gemini 8 was incredible. To have survived that and to have been able to be calm is unimaginable to me. I never thought about how I would personally deal with something like that until our discussion, and it has definitely made me think about what it takes mentally to be an astronaut. The trip to Mars would be much different and more intense as well. I know I could never do that.

In conclusion, I agree strongly with Scott that the government should wait on endorsing a trip to Mars until we have more reasons to go. This project should happen, but it is important to not rush important things.


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