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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Shveta Raina (04/21/04)

“We're all going to live on the Earth, that's what we need to take care of. This is our home.”

We never really understand the true worth of our home until we leave it. The above words of astronaut David Scott couldn't drive this point home better. Here is someone who's been outside the Earth, who's looked fondly at it from the moon. Here is also someone who made it a point to stress not once but several times that the Earth is a place that we will eventually come back to, even after exploring our solar system. We clearly need to appreciate what we have here more.

So there isn't any real reason to leave it then, is there? After all, ‘there is no place like home'. ‘Home is where the heart is'. ‘Home is where we gather grace'. All these popular phrases urge us to value our place of origin. However, sometimes we are able to value our home even after leaving it, and use our knowledge of the outside to make our home better. I have a strong view on this point, which I feel I can explain better with an analogy. I left my home in August, 2003, to come to a different continent, a different culture, a different world. And this move helped me to expand my horizons, to learn amazing things, to meet wonderful people and experience fascinating sights and sounds. However, more than anything else, it awakened in me an understanding of how much I have back home, how beautiful it is, and sparked a desire to give back to the place I come from. It made me prouder to be an Indian than I've ever been before. More relevant to the parallel I'm drawing, I'm able to think of better ways to improve my home now than I would ever have conceived before, because I see a different side of it now. Also, I can absorb from my new environment what I believe is conducive to my betterment, or the betterment of where I come from. Dave saw the Earth from the outside, I see India from the outside, we both now have a greater potential to give back to our homes.

How do we sell this idea to everyone? Well, the idea is already sold-out actually. Every single person on this Earth has felt that desire to explore the unknown, to satisfy their curiosity. As our speaker on Monday pointed out, we either wait for an autocratic leader, a spiritual quest, or fall back on the obvious idea of the human passion for adventure. There are things to see that people have never seen before, to touch that no-one has touched before. What an opportunity! And this will be backed by the value-add as I explained in the analogy, so if we're looking for a reason to go, there is reason enough.

Who will be the chosen few, the people involved in the explorations to ensue, the ambassadors of the Earth? Interestingly, when asked this question, Dave argued that they would have to be the few who are the best in whatever they chose to do. This makes me think about how similar this is to the philosophy of Brown. Do your best, but in something to like, so it's possible for you to do your absolute best. We're overwhelmed with the choice here, it's all up to us, but at the same time a huge amount of responsibility is thrust on us too. We're allowed to pick up what we enjoy, but then we're expected to do it well. I believe there is some correlation between this philosophy and the number of Brown graduates in NASA today.

In conclusion, appreciating the Earth, understanding that leaving it to explore could help us to value it and improve it more, being inspired by the spirit of adventure, and excelling at what you do best, in the Brown way, are the thoughts from David Scott's conversation with us that I have expanded on.

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