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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Stephanie LaRose (04/08/04)

This week we focused on the current exploration of Mars. Exploration, according to the definition, is a systematic search for the purpose of discovery. And discovery is finding something previously unknown. Therefore, exploring is finding the unknown, and this is a basic idea of what science is: the exploration of the unknown.

Humans explore for many reasons. One reason is competition. There is a fierce drive to be better as an individual or a group in comparison with others. The president's new space initiative was first brought to the public's attention through speeches of the national pride and prestige that would come from it. This idea is what caused us to go to the Moonócompetition with the Soviet Union.

Competition often also stems from a need of resources, and whoever finds them first, has claim to them. Our planet has a finite amount of resources for us to use for energy, our growing population, and other things. Exploring has been used to find solutions to problems, both dealing with resources and with scientific questions. As was mentioned in class, Australia was discovered and first used as a place to keep criminals. This was an attempt to solve the problem of overcrowded prisons. People have suggested we use the Moon as a place to store waste or set up colonies for overcrowding. Mars is another possibility.

Curiosity is another reason humans explore. We always seem to be drawn to what we don't know. We want to understand our surroundings and know why things work in nature the way they do. Some people have a fear of the unknown, but exploring is a way to get over this fear.

In class it was suggested that we are different genetically in our drive to explore. I don't think this to be the case. It makes sense that animals would all have a genetic drive to explore so as to spread out the population and diminish the effect any catastrophe would have on the population. I think we all have the same genetics in exploring, but that humans simply have the technology to do so. Our technology has also been the reason we need to explore. We're quickly using up the resources on our planet because of technology which has allowed us to explore. And yet we still explore because we are driven to.
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