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1999 Hakluyt Prize-winning letter
by Katherine Harris

Richard Hakluyt was a geographer of Tudor-era England, born circa AD 1552. At the request of Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, the publisher and exploration-enthusiast Hakluyt (pronounced "Hack-loot", according to the Hakluyt Society) began to disseminate pamphlets promoting English colonization of the (Europeans') "New World". The British expeditionary endeavours and expenditure of resources were arguably the most influential factors in the foundation of two of the world's most prosperous present-day nations: Canada and the US. In our hope and need for a living-day Hakluyt, the Mars Society has established the Hakluyt Prize. Students at or between the ages of 12 and 22 years write to world leaders, encouraging national and international participation in a program of Martian exploration. The winner of the 1999 Hakluyt Prize was Katherine Harris of Georgetown, Ontario - a province itself quite owing to British North American colonization; the runner-up for the 1998 Prize was Dustin Freeman, of Kingston, Ontario.

Here follows the 1999 Hakluyt Prize-winning text:

Dear (insert name here),

I am a 17 year old girl who has a dream. That dream is for humanity to go to Mars. I've written this letter to advocate a manned mission to Mars and to outline the benefits that such a mission would provide.

The urge to explore the unknown is ingrained in the human spirit. It is the inquiring minds of bold dreamers and explorers such as Magellan and Copernicus which help to extend the boundaries of knowledge, enabling the human race to understand more, to see further. Pioneers of the past sought out new land to establish their utopia. The continent of America was their New World, a place for fresh starts and for realizing dreams. The pioneers of the present and the future have the planet Mars as their goal.

A manned mission to Mars will benefit all human societies. One such benefit is knowledge. No other scientific expedition has the potential to teach us so much. By going to Mars, we will learn about planetary geology, atmospheric properties and climatology. If any type of life form is found on Mars, it would be a revelation that would drastically reshape the way humans view their place in the universe.


In addition to scientific benefits, an expedition to Mars would have advantages directly for Earth. The technology used to go to Mars and sustain human life there could have applications on our home planet. Industries that would be involved in a mission to Mars such as computing, robotics and engineering would blossom, creating new jobs and stimulating the global economy. Mars is the planet most like Earth in our solar system. This presents an opportunity for comparative planetology which can reveal much about past conditions on Mars and potential climatic conditions on Earth. A mission to Mars will also serve as a source of inspiration for the populations of Earth. The challenge of a new frontier will ignite the passions of the world's youth.

A common misconception that people have regarding a possible mission to Mars is that they don't believe we have the necessary technology for such a mission. In an age when science fiction is extremely popular, it is understandable why people envision massive space ships Ó la Star Trek as the only feasible method of transportation for such a long expedition. However, this is completely false. The technology we have at present is advanced enough to send a manned crew to Mars. We are not lacking the technological means to go to Mars, we are lacking something much more important. Incentive. After the historical moon landing in 1969, interest in the space program died. Once the goal of a manned mission to the moon had been fulfilled, the will to go further was temporarily extinguished. That desire and will needs to be reignited. Without the support and enthusiasm of the people backing up an expedition to Mars, the governments which fund the space programs will be unwilling to initiate such a journey.

That's where I'm asking for your help. The power to instigate a manned mission to Mars is in the hands of influential people like yourself. It is a noble cause to support for many reasons, from political and scientific to inspirational and spiritual. An expedition to Mars will be a test of the world's nations vigor, strength and determination. This is an enterprise worthy of being associated with your name.

I am only one voice, but the message that I m trying to convey resonates with the voices of space enthusiasts everywhere. We believe that mankind's destiny is on Mars, and we need your help to get there. Please join The Mars Society, an international organization formed to make the dream of exploring Mars a reality. You will be supporting one of the greatest collective human endeavors of all time.

Thank you for your time,


Katherine Harris
High School student and member of
The Mars Society
PO Box 273
Indian Hills, CO, 80454
www.marssociety.org

This letter was sent to:
Hilary Clinton, First Lady of the United States of America
William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States of America
Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada
Gerhardt Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany
Al Gore, Vice President of the United States of America
Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
Jenny Shipley, President of New Zealand
Jacques Chirac, President of France
Hubert Vedrine, Prime Minister of France
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of Italy
Massiavo D'Alema, Prime Minister of Italy
Ronald Duhamel, Canadian Secretary of State for Science and Technology
Mac Evans, Canadian Space Agency President
Jacques Bruneau, Canadian Space Agency Director of Program
Joe Lavalee, Canadian Space Agency Manager of Finance
Dan Goldin, President of NASA
Antonio Rodata, Director General of the European Space Agency
Roger Bonnet, Director of Scientific Programs for the European Space Agency
John Credland, Head Science Projects for the European Space Agency
Jane Mellors, US office for the European Space Agency
Hans J. Haubold, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs Space Science



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