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 (04/28/04)

This teleconference seemed to me to be different from the others at first, but then after discussing it with Professor Head, I could definitely see similarities in how the astronauts were thinking. To me, Mr. Young seemed more enthusiastic about the President's Initiative than Dave Scott. He did not outright say that he agreed or disagreed with how the program was proposed, but he did say that he believed in definitely attempting to go to Mars.

One thing that threw me off at first was when he started talking about the possible extinction of the human race on the Earth. To be honest, I at first kind of laughed when he started talking about super-volcanoes and things like that. However, I realize that my reaction to these comments was somewhat typical. Humans do have a tendency to think of only the present or the near future. The conservation of our planet is definitely a concern of mine. But for the most part I had thought the answer to this problem was the change the direction of human action, meaning moving away from fossil fuels and the like. I never really considered traveling to the moon or Mars as a possibility for solving this problem.

This change seems to me to be a good thought, but not very plausible. If the Earth is destroyed, I doubt that the resources on the moon and Mars would be able to continue to sustain human life. And the interesting point was made that Mars isn't that much less likely to be destroyed by being hit than Earth. While Mr. Young's proposal was thought-provoking, I'm not sure how soon it could be accomplished. To complete such a project would probably take hundreds of years. And if one is thinking in the long-term, that's not so long at all. I'm just not sure that scientists can convince the American public that undertaking such a long-term and expensive project would be worthwhile. I'm not even convinced of this yet.

Regardless of that part of the talk, I thought Mr. Young was definitely more diplomatic than the other speakers. I must admit I probably did not get his sense of humor, but he was very good at saying things the way NASA would want them to be said. I suppose that is the different between people who still work for NASA and those who do not.

It seems to me that although there were similarities in several of these teleconferences, there is also a large amount of varying opinion of this issue, even within the scientific community. Discord is to be expected in some ways, but it could be reflective of the world situation as a whole. I think that the public, public officials, and scientists alike do not know really what to think about human exploration to Mars. This is most likely because there are not enough strong reasons to support it, like Dave Scott said last class. In theory I am a proponent of space exploration, but I'm not sure I support Bush's proposal at this point. There are just so many other factors involved. Money is definitely a big factor in my mind. However, I don't really agree with where Bush is putting the nation's money anyway right now, so that point is just about moot. Overall, this talk definitely opened up my mind to some new ideas and definitely gave me things to think about. For example, now I'm scared to death of super-volcanoes.

 

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