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 (03/24/04)

This class truly amazed me. I never had taken the time to think about what life would be like on Antarctica, but when I did, I had so many questions about how it would be. I never considered every little detail that must be taken into account in order to survive in such a desolate location.

The talk was very eye opening for me because although I had heard briefly in class that the geology of Antarctica was similar to that of Mars, I never how or why. The rock formations, especially those shown that were caused by moving glaciers, were especially interesting. How and why are those shapes formed? And why is this location so similar to a land so distant from Earth and so different from other locations on the same planet? This brings t mind the effects of climate and of the discussions we have been having concerning water on Earth and on Mars. Is it possible that water might have formed deep under Mars' arid surface?

This class was so interesting to me that I discussed it with my father, who talked to me about Lake Vostok, which is also in Antarctica. He told me that scientists believe that this huge lake of water which is under miles of ice might be similar to the situation of water on Europa, and that tests were being done there to see if this similarity might be viable. I wonder also if this could be applied to Mars. It would be difficult, however, to test this hypothesis. One would have to perhaps drill down beneath the miles of ice in order to discover the presence of any water, and I doubt that technology is yet available for Mars. Either, way the research that is being done on Antarctica, both on this and as we discussed in class, is a wonderful way to study more efficiently and economically a distant location. It seems to me that it would also be a wonderful experience.

So many parts of the journey seemed incredibly difficult, and although I at first was excited about perhaps having the opportunity to go to Antarctica in the future, I soon realized that I probably could not handle it. The situations that were described were physically and mentally exhausting even to hear about. And I'm not sure if I could take the social isolation. I'm probably one of those people that would fail the tests to determine whether I am psychologically fit to travel! It was, however, amazing to hear about a world that is so different from our own. Humans have found ways to inhabit almost every end of the Earth. Perhaps this is a good indication that we are ready to explore further. Mars, perhaps?

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