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Margot AIAA Edited

Margot AIAA Edited

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Published by samgnerre
Sponsored by Raytheon and The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), this year’s essay contest topic asked 7th and 8th graders to describe how robots and humans could work together to explore Mars. They are having a dinner this Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza LAX hotel. One of the speakers for the evening is Astronaut Buzz Aldrin. This entry by Margot Mel of Manhattan Beach Middle School was a first-place winner.
Sponsored by Raytheon and The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), this year’s essay contest topic asked 7th and 8th graders to describe how robots and humans could work together to explore Mars. They are having a dinner this Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza LAX hotel. One of the speakers for the evening is Astronaut Buzz Aldrin. This entry by Margot Mel of Manhattan Beach Middle School was a first-place winner.

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Published by: samgnerre on May 20, 2013
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Margot MelManhattan Beach Middle SchoolRebecca AllenA Delicate BalanceMars has intrigued curious men and women for thousands of years. Fueled by a
fascination of what may lie beyond Earth’
s atmosphere, scientists have not ceased in their quest to
 better understand “The Red Planet”.
As science writer Charles Choi explains: Ahuman voyage to Mars remains a holy grail for NASA. The urge to get a human on Marsis driven by its potential to contain a life form. The resemblance to our own planet isstriking. The similar axes, polar caps, atmospheric chemistries and the amount of landsurface areas are all reasons why we look to Mars in search of life. Despite intenseresearch, what we know is merely a drop of water in the ocean that is our universe.In recent years, robots have widened our understanding of Mars. Humans androbots have been working together relentlessly to advance our knowledge of the finalfrontier, but these efforts have been limited by the fact that to date, no human has set footon Mars. I believe that having a human present on a mission would drastically increasethe output of information on an expedition to Mars. While working with robots, theoptimal situation would be a balance between what the humans and robots do. Humanscould retrieve data and robots analyze it, or robots could be used to keep humans safeinstead of the other way around in order to enhance our understanding of what lies in theocean of emptiness. Since there are clear pros and cons between man and machine, it iscrucial that a balance is achieved for idyllic investigation of our neighboring planet.The current use of rovers to retrieve data is limited and extremely expensive.However, if a human collected data and it was then sent to robots to be dissected and
 
analyzed, more time could be spent extracting information from samples than with theacquisition. This would already be a monumental step forward because when worldsaway, a small technical glitch can cost billions of dollars. For example, if the robot getsstuck in a hole with little traction, the scientists back at NASA are as stuck as the rover is.Furthermore, because the rovers are solar paneled, when winter comes, or the solar panelgets covered with sand, the rover is rendered useless . A specific occurrence of this predicament was when the rover Spirit became stuck in iron sulfate, which has very little
traction. For months, NASA’s efforts in liberating the rover prove
d to be fruitless. Doug
McCuistion, NASA’s director of Mars Exploration , revealed “Spirit is stuck in a golfer’sworst nightmare, stuck in a sand trap that no matter how many strokes you take, you can’tget out of”. The lack of wind
to dust off the solar panel turned out to be another detrimentto the Spirit mission. Lastly, the rover can only move of 300 ft/hr. A human would beable to move more safely, and significantly faster. Although these problems seem trivial,one unfortunate mishap could send a multi-billion dollar investment spiraling down thedrain and while excruciatingly slow robots may be our sole source of substantialinformation about Mars, they hold some advantages over sending a human.There are two sides to every argument, including whether or not sending a humanto Mars would in fact, be the best option. Robots, unlike humans, are expendable.Sending a human being to Mars would be dangerous. Scientists have shown that spaceradiation can cause cancer, cataract formation, or even death. Also, sending people would be a vastly more expensive operation than sending a robot. According to NASA, the tripto Mars would take approximately 6 months, and the team of astronauts would have tostay for 18-20 months until the planets re-aligned correctly for another 6-month return
 
trip. In fact, the food alone, would weigh about 880 pounds per person. Because it would be inefficient to tote along that massive supply of provisions, plans have been made toconstruct a hydroponic growth lab. Food would then have to be grown on the surface of Mars, which would be a costly production. In conclusion, the current level of technologyand budget that is available, is inadequate for sending a human 35 million miles away ina confined vessel for 2 ½ years.Because of the various advantages and disadvantages represented by humans androbots, the best solution is finding a balance between what tasks humans and robotsaccomplish. Currently, people maintain and control robots, however, I think it would beadvantageous for humans to gather the samples because they could do it more quicklyand efficiently. I believe a successful balance could be achieved if human's and robot'sroles were reversed. In this situation, robots could work to maintain the safety of theastro
nauts. The robots could regulate the astronaut’s temperature from a remote location,
analyze the different rocks and air samples, and send status updates back to NASAheadquarters. If this system were implemented one day, it could lead to a more competentunderstanding of the planet Mars.Through the years, the relationship between man and machine has becomestronger and exponentially more important. Not only do we rely on computers to provideus with information about outer space, but also we depend on them for our everydaytransactions. People depend heavily on their cell-phones , iPads, and laptops, in fact,studies have shown that more people have cell phones than indoor plumbing! Thanks toconstant advancements in the world of science, there is a balance of human interactionand technological communication. Synergy is crucial to receive an ideal situation for 

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