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Exploring Mars

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One of the main reasons for exploring Mars is to try to find any kind of life on this rocky planet. Mars is a cold desert planet. It is very, very, very dry. It is half the diameter of Earth and has the same amount of dry land as earth. Like Earth, Mars has seasons.  Mars is too thin for water but there are signs of ancient water floods.

The name of “Mars”  originated from both the Greeks (Ares – God of War) as well as the ancient Romans, whose name for Ares was Mars.  The ancient civilizations (Egyptians) also named Mars “Her Desher” which means “The Red One.”  

The Orion crew exploration vehicle is paving the way for missions to Mars. The Orion spacecraft is supposed to take humans back to the moon in 2020, and then on to Mars, to take the  “first step” on Mars by humans.   A lot of spacecrafts have been sent to Mars, but only three have been successful.  This shows how tough it is to sustain and explore life on Mars.

Significant  Dates:

  • 1877: Asaph Hall discovers the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos.
  • 1965: NASA’s Mariner 4 sends back 22 photos of Mars, the world’s first close-up photos of a planet beyond Earth.
  • 1976: Viking 1 and 2 land on the surface of Mars.
  • 1997: Mars Pathfinder lands and dispatches Sojourner, the first wheeled rover to explore the surface of another planet.
  • 2002: Mars Odyssey begins its mission to make global observations and find buried water ice on Mars.
  • 2004: Twin Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit and Opportunity find strong evidence that Mars once had long-term liquid water on the surface.
  • 2006: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter begins returning high-resolution images as it studies the history of water on Mars and seasonal changes.
  • 2008: Phoenix finds signs of possible habitability, including the occasional presence of liquid water and potentially favorable soil chemistry.
  • 2012: NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity lands in Gale Crater and finds conditions once suited for ancient microbial life on Mars.

 

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