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PHYS Term Paper - Balloga 1 Abram Balloga PHYS 1203 TA Mark...

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Balloga, 1 Abram Balloga PHYS 1203 TA: Mark Transtrum- mkt26 Term Paper 5/11/2009 Mars Bars and April Fools Introduction/ Background: Warp speed travel, space battles, exotic landscapes, aliens are often portrayed in popular films as a realistic future lifestyle . It is a tantalizing dream, an easy and entertaining indulgence for vivid imaginations . Science fiction has always glorified space travel, colonization and conquest as the final frontier, a frontier that may eventually become home to humans, equally comfortable as mother earth . Regrettably, towards the purpose of those fictional fantasies, mankind is still in the Stone Age . Technology wise we have only proven proficiency in short manned space flights, excepting the international space station . Delivery of humans to celestial bodies has only been attempted on the moon, the closest and simplest possibility . Even in the case of our moon, creating a sustainable human habitat is far beyond our reach . A further disappointment is the fact that, to our knowledge, we have not yet made contact with and extra- terrestrials or even found indisputable evidence of the existence of life outside the reach of Earths generous bosom . Humans are at the very beginning of this journey, and must begin our search with the most likely candidate planets . Regardless of the end goal – be it human habitation, resource harvesting, strategic military placement, search for extraterrestrial life, or simple human curiosity – our search must begin with a planet relatively nearby and which retains the potential to sustain life in some capacity .
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Balloga, 2 Mars, being in relatively convenient proximity to earth as well as similar in many other respects, has come under investigation . Life, as it is understood by human science, necessitates an abundance of H2O, so its presence was eagerly searched for on Mars. By the end of the 18 th century, William Herschel had demonstrated that the Martian polar icecaps contract and re-grow cyclically with Mars’ seasons, hinting at a melting and re-freezing of some liquid substance, much like our own polar icecaps . Similar to classical Greek notions of symmetry and organization of the universe, new observations were paired with what we know about our own planet. If at its poles, Earth has large icecaps of solid H2O, Mars should have similar frozen reserves. In September 1877 an Italian astronomer, Giovanni Virginio spent endless hours peering at Mars through a small but advanced telescope, in an attempt at mapping the planet’s surface . So engrossed was he in his observations that he refused to consume anything that might hamper his performance or vision, including narcotics, alcohol, and even coffee which he thought particularly detrimental . 1 His rendition of Mars’ surface is phenomenal considering the instruments at his disposal.
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