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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Lillian Ostrach (02/04/04)

My name is Lillian Ostrach and, when not residing in my lovely New Pembroke #4 dormitory, I live in Bethesda, MD.  It is difficult to think of a time when I have not wanted to be an astronaut, in fact, my interest in space exploration began at a very young age and was encouraged by not only my parents, but my grandparents as well.  As a little girl, I received lego sets featuring space shuttles and astronauts, as well as books about space and Sally Ride, the first woman in space.  Both my father and grandfather work for NASA and have been involved in many Space Shuttle, as well as rocket, launches.  This exposure to the space program has enabled me to gain access to many materials and learning resources, as well as foster and develop my interest in engineering and the space sciences.

While not the most fanatical space fan, I am intrigued by the universe and all that we don't know.  I enrolled in Beginning Astronomy last semester with Professor Bozyan who helped cement my continuing interest in the planets and the exploration of the terrific vacuum we call deep space.  If you happen to stop by my dorm room, you'd see that I have no less than seven posters, certified by NASA, showing amazing and awesome pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Jovian planets, a surface map of Mars, and X-ray photographs of the Sun taped to my dorm walls and ceiling.  I enrolled in this course, GE 16: Exploring Mars, because I could not imagine being excluded from such a fascinating class.  The course description on the website describes how we will analyze data first-hand and to explore the growth and development of the Mars exploration.  I thought to myself, "How often will I have a chance like this?"  I mean, honestly, how many students besides those enrolled in this seminar will be viewing data transmitted from Opportunity or Spirit in real-time?  And how many students will be able to make sense of this data?  I feel that to pass up such an opportunity would be a waste of the freedom and independence I have at Brown.

As far as contributions go, I feel that I have many potential skills that I can bring into this course.  My background with NASA and the space program, and my connections through my dad, can be used as a resource for information.  Furthermore, my unique perspective and point-of-view, as well as my creativity and open-mindedness can help relate the scientific aspects of the course to the sociological and political roles that influence this exploration of Mars.  Even with these contributions, however, I feel that I can hone my inquisitiveness and curiosity with the creative thinking skills and mental disciplines we will be discovering with our exploration of data and space exploration history.  Moreover, the opportunity to learn in an environment where everyone is on equal footing will foster team-working skills, as well as listening and learning skills that are necessary in order to fully utilize the human resources available to us as students and scientists.

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