Individuals through their endeavors didn’t prove what did happen in early times, only what could have. And yet, in doing so it explains the human desire to recognize how things became what they are. Like all explorers set out to expand human knowledge they understood that the Scientific Method necessitate facts and evidence.
Centuries ago immigration to new lands and utilization of raw materials were leading motivations for exploration, driven by the material needs and personal vanities of kings, queens and nations. But Columbus sought personal gratitude as much as his royal sponsors wanted their own recognition and rewards. Two hundred and fifty years go the focus began to shift to the search for mysterious peoples at the furthermost ends of the Earth — Tahiti, central Africa, the search for Prester John; Captain Cook pursued knowledge as much as recognition. Then slowly the focus shifted to nearly-uninhabited parts of the Earth — the search for the Northwest Passage, the race to the North Pole, the first probing of the Antarctic continent, and lastly the race for the South Pole. Until the Second World War, private endeavors still went hand in hand with military expeditions representing governments. Exploration has more and more been in search for fame and curiosity than for gold. Today, organized scientific curiosity, aggregated into Big Science, has become a leading element in robotic space exploration.