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It's for hardware redundancy... When you write data to your RAID 1 volume, you write to both drives, also known as a root and mirror drive. Should you have a drive failure, head crash, whatever, your data is safe as you can boot from the alternate drive.
A faulty drive would be replaced and would rebuild its self automatically from the good drive. RAIDs can be implemented in either hardware or software. Hardware raids can usually have faulty drives hot swapped, they handle the rebuild transparently, the OS isn't used for this task, the RAID controller card does it.
Yes, if you wipe one, you wipe both. RAID volumes are 'initialised' rather than 'wiped' if you need to start again.
n.b. a RAID 'volume' is a collection of drives.