Case Studies in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism
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Questions to Ponder and Discuss
- How early did researchers begin studying Mars?
- For his canals-on-Mars theory, is Giovanni Schiaparelli viewed as a hero, or as a joke?
- Why do researchers care about water on Mars? Journalists?
- How has NASA ensured interest in the Mars exploration missions? Would the “Press Kit” be useful to you?
- How have the theories and hypotheses about water on Mars changed over the decades?
- At what point did water on Mars go from a theory of a few people to a well-research hypothesis of many? What technology helped bring about this change?
- From the technical articles, what do we now know about water on Mars?
- What do the 1909 NY Times articles demonstrate about scientific processes from last century? Do you see any/many differences from today’s peer review process?
- What devices are used to convey the importance of the search for life on Mars to readers?
- Do you see evidence of Cold War sentiments in any of the popular articles? If so, where?
- Is the idea of global warming/the greenhouse effect present in any of the pre-1990 articles?
- In describing the potential Martian organisms, do the popular articles play into the “little green men” stereotype, or do they attempt to stray from it?
- How did scientific discoveries on Earth influence the search for life on Mars?
- What do you notice about the ‘desire’ to find life on mars, conveyed in the articles? Does it seem like it is something people are hoping for? Scared of? Skeptical of?
- The 2004 National Geographic article is a nice recap of discoveries made on/about Mars since the 1960’s. How has the public’s image of Mars changed over the last few decades?
- What are the “Blueberries of Mars”? What do they prove about the presence of water there?
- Technology and exploration on Mars go hand in hand. How does the December 2004 Popular Science article deal with technology? How is it appropriate for this publication?
- Do you think journalists approach the science coming out of the Mars expeditions critically? If not, should they?
- Could Science Viewpoint/News articles be reprinted in popular media outlets and be well-understood by the general public?
- How does the 2005 National Geographic article personify the rovers? Is it a useful technique?
- Is there an example of an article that dealt with the science of Mars well? Technology? Cost? What about the adventure-side of Mars research?
- Why is it so tantalizing to find a planet “similar” to Earth? Is Mars really that similar to Earth?
- Why is it important to study Mars? Based on the BBC blog, what are people’s opinions on money and Mars explorations? What is your personal opinion?
"Schiaparelli, Giovanni Virginio 1835-1910.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Science: Astronomers and Astrophysicists. <www.daviddarling.info> Accessed April 5, 2008.
"Mars,” “Exploration of Mars,” “Life on Mars.” Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki> Accessed April 5, 2008.
“Mars, Water and Life.” NASA Mars Polar Lander, Jet Propulsion Laboratory. <http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98/why.html> Accessed April 10, 2008
“Mars Exploration Fun Zone” NASA Mars Exploration Program. <http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/funzone_flash.html> Accessed April 10, 2008
“Mars Exploration Rover Landings: Press Kit January 2004.” NASA. <http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov.html>
Farmer, Crofton B. “Liquid Water on Mars.” ICARUS 1976(28): 279-289
Carr, Michael H. “Review Article: Water on Mars.” Nature 1987(326): 30-35
Head, James W., Harald Hiesinger, Mikhail A. Ivanov, Mikhail A. Kreslavsky, Stephen Pratt, and Bradley J. Thomson. “Possible Ancient Oceans on Mars: Evidence from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter Data.” Science 1999(286): 2134- 2137
Haberle, Robert M., Christopher P. McKay, James Schaeffer, Nathalie A. Cabrol, Edmon A. Grin, Aaron P. Zent, and Richard Quinn. “On the possibility of liquid water on present-day Mars.” Journal of Geophysical Research 2001 (v.106 no. E10): 23,317-23,326
McEwen et al. “A Closer Look at Water-Related Geologic Activity on Mars.” Science 2007(317): 1706-1709.
“New Tests Indicate No Life on Mars”, New York Times, September 16, 1909
“Life on Mars”, New York Times, September 18, 1909
Johannsen, N. “Water on Mars”, New York Times, November 20, 1909
“Life on Mars”, TIME, August 24, 1953
“Looking for Life on Mars”, TIME, August 18, 1975
Cowen, Robert C. “Radar Hints Possible Surprise: an “Oasis’ of Water on Mars”, Christian Science Monitor, July 23, 1980
Corcoran, Katherine. “Scientists with eyes toward Mars work on water problem”, Denver Post, June 24, 1987
Chandler, David L. “Speculation revived by evidence from Soviet craft, frozen lakes; Did Mars have life after all?”, The Boston Globe, November 13, 1989
Broad, William J. “Probes will carry new hope for detecting life on Mars”, New York Times, February 20, 1996
Oliver Morton et al. “Mars Revisited”, National Geographic, January, 2004
Kluger, Jeffrey. “The Blueberries of Mars”, TIME, March 15, 2004
Carmichael, Mary. “Visiting Mars? Don’t drink the water”, Newsweek, March 15, 2004
Piller, Charles. “A salty sea long ago lapped on surface of Mars, NASA discovers”, Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2004
Cunningham, Michael MoyerAimee. “Exploring the seas of Mars: The twin rovers turn the red planet into their scientific playground, digging into rocks and capturing images that reveal a rich, watery past”, Popular Science, December 2004.
Lubick, Naomi. “Evidence of water on Mars flows”, Geotimes, December 15, 2004
Paige, David A. “Ancient Mars: wet in many places”, Science, March 11, 2005
Petit, Charles W. “Report from the Red Planet”, National Geographic, July, 2005
“White Mars: Planetary Science”, The Economist, April 22, 2006
Leary, Warren E. “Strongest Proof Yet of Water Flow on Mars Raises Hopes of Finding Life”, New York Times, December 7, 2006
Henderson, Mark. “Water has been flowing on Mars within past five years, NASA says”. The Times (London), December 7, 2006
Connor, Steve. “There was life on Mars (Probably)”, The Independent (London), June 14, 2007
Vergano, Dan. “Prepare for Landing: Mars is again the star of space exploration as scientists look toward water, life and beyond”, USA Today, September 5, 2007
Tyson, Neil Degrasse. “Why Go to Mars.” American Museum of Natural History. <www.amnh.org/sciencebulletines/astro/f/mars.20040401/essays/12_1.php> Accessed April 14, 2008.
“Are Mars missions worth the money?” BBC News : ‘Have your Say’ Blog. Current. Accessed April 14, 2008.
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