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assignment3 - Mitch McMichael ASTRO 2202 Professor Veverka...

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Mitch McMichael ASTRO 2202 Professor Veverka April 18, 2011 MSL and The Search for Life on Mars Earth as we have come to know it is slowly starting to fall apart and it is from our own actions and ignorance that the fate of this planet has the possibility to be inevitably disastrous. The idea of having to find another planet to live upon seems ludicrous when we have a planet that is perfectly sustainable for our needs. It is not to say that we should not explore the realms of space to further expand our civilization but to do so because of shear need frightens me. The planet of Mars has been a popular topic of discussion since the first probe, the Mariner 4, documented photos in 1965 and has led us to question our efforts in discovering the fruits of this arid planet. It is the past probes and rovers such as this that we are going to investigate, and relate them to the rover named Curiosity built by the Mars Space Laboratory set to take off on November 25 th , 2011. How will this rover distinguish it self from the others, and how beneficial will this specific mission be to the expansion of our race? With every argument there are always at least two sides to consider, and this one is no different. Should we be putting money into a program in hopes of finding whether or not life could possibly be sustained, or are we simply wasting our time and money? A common theme has arisen over the past century and that is Mars, along with Europa a small moon of Jupiter, are the closest planetary locations to that of Earth. According to an article found in the San Francisco Chronicle written by NASA and the Millennium Group, Mars has many of the characteristics that are similar to Earth. The core within Mars is similar to that of Earth in respects to being or used to be a hot
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dynamo core that acts like the one we have here. There is also evidence of a magnetic field similar to the one found here on Earth but nowhere near its magnitude. It is the magnetic field that gives Earth its unique characteristics, and it is because of this that we are protected from solar radiation that helps us sustain our ecosystems. It is the belief that the atmospheric field that once surrounded Mars, broke down due to a number of changes in magnetic field direction caused by the changing conditions of its core ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi? file=/chronicle/archive/1999/04/30/MN46842.DTL ) Another notable similarity between the two planets is the amount of water trapped within polar ice caps. This characteristic is also important to the unraveling of our planets history as many of Mars’ characteristics used to be similar to that of Earths current condition. There are massive indentations in
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