For my field trip in my freshman year of Earth, Life, and Time, I went to the Library of Congress and the National Air and Space Museum.
At the Library of Congress, there were many historical artifacts and documents that were very important to history. One of the exhibits that interested me was Language and Context. This exhibit displayed how Native Americans communicated with each other in the duration of pre- contact America. There were many different sculptures in this exhibit that had hieroglyphs or pictures on them that represented symbols that were used as a method of communication. For instance, on one of these sculptures there was a symbol that depicted two prominent birds. This image represented a Teotihuacón military symbol. At this exhibit, there was also one artifact I found especially intriguing called Vase with Lords in the Mouths of Serpents. This pottery- made vase contained many symbols and a description of what these symbols meant. The artifact was a lord sitting on top of a serpent’s open jaws which symbolized this lord is dead and that he has reached the underworld. The reason for this is because the serpent represents the underworld and if an object is about to go inside the serpent’s mouth it means that they have gone into the underworld. This artifact makes me believe the people who created this were very religious and brought their beliefs out through art.
Another exhibit at the Library of Congress was called Cortéz and the Aztecs. This exhibit displayed events that took place during the early 16th century and showed the relationships between the conquistadors and the Aztecs. One part of this exhibit I found most interesting is a book written in script that described the mating of the Aztec people with the Spanish Conquistadors. This book was written by Cortéz to document and inform other people of his progress in the New World. This part of the exhibit was called the Descendants of Moctezuma. Cortéz wanted to bring together the Aztec people with the Spanish Conquistadors because he thought it would benefit New Spain. To accomplish this, he brought together Doña Isabel, the daughter of the ruler of the Aztecs, Moctezuma, and one of the conquistadors. All together, Doña Isabel had seven children, bringing along the lineage of the Moctezuma. This exhibit tells me Cortéz and the Spanish Conquistadors wanted the Aztec people to assimilate into the Spanish culture.
One more exhibit I found exciting at the Library of Congress was a map of Ancient Rome. The map was in color and contained two legends at the bottom. The legends showed attractions of the city. The map was very accurate and detailed and depicted the Coliseum, the Pantheon, churches, a river that went through the center of the city, and more. This map of shows Rome was wealthy place and very appealing to live in. It was made during the Renaissance period and the language that was spoken during this time was Latin. It was made for the purpose of allowing people to navigate through the Roman city.
The second place I went to was the National Air and Space Museum. While there, I went to an exhibit called Space: Our Journey to Our Future. At this exhibit there was information about proposed missions in addition to missions currently taking place. One mission taking place right now was sponsored by NASA and has to do with the Mars Rover Exploration that launched in 2004. In this exploration, rovers named Spirit and Opportunity to Mars were sent out to gain samples of rocks and other evidence that could lead to what there once was on Mars. These rovers assisted in figuring out there was once water on Mars.
The evidence that proves this is the rovers found rocks with deposits of salts that were left there by evaporating bodies of water. Also, hematite, a mineral found in water, was found. These rovers were meant to scout out areas, carry tools to collect samples, and to set up solar panels. In the future, scientists hope to find out whether there once was life on Mars.
At the museum, I also saw two different explorations that were proposed. The first mission was called Snow White and the 700 Dwarves. In this mission, NASA is going to send up 700 nano-rovers and one other rover called Snow White. The rover Snow White will coordinate the nano-rovers to transform the landscape of Mars so human arrival is possible we can find out even more about the history of Mars. In the exhibit, there was a model of a nano-rover, which was very small and cube-shaped.
Another mission that proposed by NASA was called Ares: Back to the Moon. This mission is supposed to take place between the years of 2014 and 2020. The point of this mission is to build an outpost on the Moon to support a long term human presence. By accomplishing this, it would be easier to prepare future journeys to Mars and other parts of the Solar System. This mission will work through two different rockets working together. One of the rockets, Ares V, which is the cargo rocket, will send all of the supplies needed to build this outpost. The other rocket, Ares I, which is 325 ft tall and weighs two million pounds, will transport the astronauts to the Moon.
While going to both of these exhibits, I realized both of these places had different styles to their displays. The exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum were more hands-on and interactive than those at the Library of Congress. I believe this is appropriate because the items held at the Library of Congress are very old and delicate and based on learning alone. The exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum are based on learning, but are also there to open the minds of people to the possibilities of space and the events that will probably take place there in the future. I feel that the National Air and Space Museum exhibits are focused on the learning of children, unlike the Library of Congress, which is directed more towards adolescent or the older class.
I believe that the explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries had similar motives to those of the 21st century. This is because all explorers want to find out more about unchartered territories. The major difference in the two time periods of exploration is that the explorers of the 21st century are working with a different level of technology than explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries had. At this time, we don’t even need the presence of humans in order to find out information on various planets or moons.