Mars – Wikipedia

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, being only larger than Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the "Red Planet".[16][17] The latter refers to the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on Mars' surface, which gives it a reddish appearance distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye.[18] Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, with surface features reminiscent of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of Earth.

The days and seasons are comparable to those of Earth, because the rotational period as well as the tilt of the rotational axis relative to the ecliptic plane are similar. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano and highest known mountain on any planet in the Solar System and of Valles Marineris, one of the largest canyons in the Solar System. The smooth Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere covers 40% of the planet and may be a giant impact feature.[19][20] Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. These may be captured asteroids, similar to 5261 Eureka, a Mars trojan.[21][22]

Mars has been explored by unmanned spacecraft. Mariner 4, launched by NASA on November 28, 1964, was the first spacecraft to visit Mars, making its closest approach to the planet on July 15, 1965. Mariner 4 detected the weak Martian radiation belt, measured at about 0.1% that of Earth and captured the first images of another planet from deep space.[23][24] On July 20, 1976, Viking 1 performed the first successful landing on the Martian surface.[25] The Soviet Mars 3 spacecraft achieved a soft landing in December 1971 but contact was lost with its lander seconds after touchdown.[26] On July 4, 1997, the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars and on July 5 released its rover, Sojourner, the first robotic rover to operate on Mars.[27] Pathfinder was followed by the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in January 2004 and operated until March 22, 2010 and June 10, 2018, respectively.[28][29] The Mars Express orbiter, the first European Space Agency spacecraft to visit Mars, arrived in orbit on December 25, 2003.[30] On September 24, 2014, the Indian Space Research Organization became the fourth space agency to visit Mars, when its maiden interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, arrived in orbit.[31][32]

There are investigations assessing the past habitability of Mars, as well as the possibility of extant life. Astrobiology missions are planned, including the Perseverance and Rosalind Franklin rovers.[33][34][35][36] Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to low atmospheric pressure, which is less than 1% of the atmospheric pressure on Earth, except at the lowest elevations for short periods.[37][38][39] The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water.[40][41] The volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the planetary surface to a depth of 11 meters (36ft).[42] In November 2016, NASA reported finding a large amount of underground ice in the Utopia Planitia region. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior.[43][44][45]

Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye, as can its reddish coloring. Its apparent magnitude reaches 2.94, which is surpassed only by Venus, the Moon and the Sun.[12] Optical ground-based telescopes are typically limited to resolving features about 300 kilometers (190mi) across when Earth and Mars are closest because of Earth's atmosphere.[46]

In English, the planet is named for the Roman god of war,[47] an association made because of its red color, which suggests blood.[48] The adjectival form of Latin Mars is Martius,[49] which provides the English words Martian, used as an adjective or for a putative inhabitant of Mars, and Martial, used as an adjective corresponding to Terrestrial for Earth.[50] In Greek, the planet is known as Ars, with the inflectional root - Are-.[51] From this comes technical terms such as areology, as well as the adjective Arean[52] and the star name Antares. 'Mars' is also the basis of the name of the month of March (from Latin Martius mnsis 'month of Mars'), as well as (through loan-translation) of Tuesday (Latin dies Martis 'day of Mars'), where the old Anglo-Saxon god Tw was identified with Roman Mars.

The archaic Latin form Mvors is very occasionally seen in English, though the adjectives Mavortial and Mavortian mean 'martial' in the military rather than planetary sense.[53]

Due to the global influence of European languages, a word like Mars or Marte for the planet is common around the world, though it may be used alongside older, native words. A number of other languages have provided words with international usage. For example, Arabic mirrkh which has connotations of fire is used as the (or a) name for the planet in Persian, Urdu, Malay and Swahili,[54] among others, while Chinese [Mandarin Huxng] 'fire star' (for in Chinese the five classical planets are identified with the five elements) is used in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese.[55]

A long-standing nickname for Mars is "The Red Planet". That is also the planet's name in Hebrew, "Ma'adim" (), which is derived from "Adom" () - "Red"

Mars is approximately half the diameter of Earth, with a surface area only slightly less than the total area of Earth's dry land.[10] Mars is less dense than Earth, having about 15% of Earth's volume and 11% of Earth's mass, resulting in about 38% of Earth's surface gravity. The red-orange appearance of the Martian surface is caused by iron(III) oxide, or rust.[56] It can look like butterscotch;[57] other common surface colors include golden, brown, tan, and greenish, depending on the minerals present.[57]

Like Earth, Mars has differentiated into a dense metallic core overlaid by less dense materials.[58] Current models of its interior imply a core with a radius of about 1,79465 kilometers (1,11540mi), consisting primarily of iron and nickel with about 1617% sulfur.[59] This iron(II) sulfide core is thought to be twice as rich in lighter elements as Earth's.[60] The core is surrounded by a silicate mantle that formed many of the tectonic and volcanic features on the planet, but it appears to be dormant. Besides silicon and oxygen, the most abundant elements in the Martian crust are iron, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, and potassium. The average thickness of the planet's crust is about 50km (31mi), with a maximum thickness of 125km (78mi).[60] Earth's crust averages 40km (25mi).

Mars is seismically active, with InSight recording over 450 marsquakes and related events in 2019.[61][62]

Mars is a terrestrial planet that consists of minerals containing silicon and oxygen, metals, and other elements that typically make up rock. The surface of Mars is primarily composed of tholeiitic basalt,[63] although parts are more silica-rich than typical basalt and may be similar to andesitic rocks on Earth or silica glass. Regions of low albedo suggest concentrations of plagioclase feldspar, with northern low albedo regions displaying higher than normal concentrations of sheet silicates and high-silicon glass. Parts of the southern highlands include detectable amounts of high-calcium pyroxenes. Localized concentrations of hematite and olivine have been found.[64] Much of the surface is deeply covered by finely grained iron(III) oxide dust.[65][66]

Although Mars has no evidence of a structured global magnetic field,[68] observations show that parts of the planet's crust have been magnetized, suggesting that alternating polarity reversals of its dipole field have occurred in the past. This paleomagnetism of magnetically susceptible minerals is similar to the alternating bands found on Earth's ocean floors. One theory, published in 1999 and re-examined in October 2005 (with the help of the Mars Global Surveyor), is that these bands suggest plate tectonic activity on Mars four billion years ago, before the planetary dynamo ceased to function and the planet's magnetic field faded.[69]

It is thought that, during the Solar System's formation, Mars was created as the result of a stochastic process of run-away accretion of material from the protoplanetary disk that orbited the Sun. Mars has many distinctive chemical features caused by its position in the Solar System. Elements with comparatively low boiling points, such as chlorine, phosphorus, and sulphur, are much more common on Mars than Earth; these elements were probably pushed outward by the young Sun's energetic solar wind.[70]

After the formation of the planets, all were subjected to the so-called "Late Heavy Bombardment". About 60% of the surface of Mars shows a record of impacts from that era,[71][72][73] whereas much of the remaining surface is probably underlain by immense impact basins caused by those events. There is evidence of an enormous impact basin in the northern hemisphere of Mars, spanning 10,600 by 8,500km (6,600 by 5,300mi), or roughly four times the size of the Moon's South Pole Aitken basin, the largest impact basin yet discovered.[19][20] This theory suggests that Mars was struck by a Pluto-sized body about four billion years ago. The event, thought to be the cause of the Martian hemispheric dichotomy, created the smooth Borealis basin that covers 40% of the planet.[74][75]

The geological history of Mars can be split into many periods, but the following are the three primary periods:[77][78]

Geological activity is still taking place on Mars. The Athabasca Valles is home to sheet-like lava flows created about 200 Mya. Water flows in the grabens called the Cerberus Fossae occurred less than 20 Mya, indicating equally recent volcanic intrusions.[79] On February 19, 2008, images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed evidence of an avalanche from a 700-metre-high (2,300ft) cliff.[80]

The Phoenix lander returned data showing Martian soil to be slightly alkaline and containing elements such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and chlorine. These nutrients are found in soils on Earth, and they are necessary for growth of plants.[81] Experiments performed by the lander showed that the Martian soil has a basic pH of 7.7, and contains 0.6% of the salt perchlorate.[83][84][85] This is a very high concentration and makes the Martian soil toxic (see also Martian soil toxicity).[86][87]

Streaks are common across Mars and new ones appear frequently on steep slopes of craters, troughs, and valleys. The streaks are dark at first and get lighter with age. The streaks can start in a tiny area, then spread out for hundreds of metres. They have been seen to follow the edges of boulders and other obstacles in their path. The commonly accepted theories include that they are dark underlying layers of soil revealed after avalanches of bright dust or dust devils.[88] Several other explanations have been put forward, including those that involve water or even the growth of organisms.[89][90]

Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to low atmospheric pressure, which is less than 1% that of Earth's,[37] except at the lowest elevations for short periods.[38][39] The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water.[40][41] The volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the entire planetary surface to a depth of 11 meters (36ft).[42] A permafrost mantle stretches from the pole to latitudes of about 60.[40] Large quantities of ice are thought to be trapped within the thick cryosphere of Mars. Radar data from Mars Express and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show large quantities of ice at both poles (July 2005)[91][92] and at middle latitudes (November 2008).[93] The Phoenix lander directly sampled water ice in shallow Martian soil on July 31, 2008.[94]

Landforms visible on Mars strongly suggest that liquid water has existed on the planet's surface. Huge linear swathes of scoured ground, known as outflow channels, cut across the surface in about 25 places. These are thought to be a record of erosion caused by the catastrophic release of water from subsurface aquifers, though some of these structures have been hypothesized to result from the action of glaciers or lava.[95][96] One of the larger examples, Ma'adim Vallis is 700km (430mi) long, much greater than the Grand Canyon, with a width of 20km (12mi) and a depth of 2km (1.2mi) in places. It is thought to have been carved by flowing water early in Mars's history.[97] The youngest of these channels are thought to have formed as recently as only a few million years ago.[98] Elsewhere, particularly on the oldest areas of the Martian surface, finer-scale, dendritic networks of valleys are spread across significant proportions of the landscape. Features of these valleys and their distribution strongly imply that they were carved by runoff resulting from precipitation in early Mars history. Subsurface water flow and groundwater sapping may play important subsidiary roles in some networks, but precipitation was probably the root cause of the incision in almost all cases.[99]

Along crater and canyon walls, there are thousands of features that appear similar to terrestrial gullies. The gullies tend to be in the highlands of the southern hemisphere and to face the Equator; all are poleward of 30 latitude. A number of authors have suggested that their formation process involves liquid water, probably from melting ice,[100][101] although others have argued for formation mechanisms involving carbon dioxide frost or the movement of dry dust.[102][103] No partially degraded gullies have formed by weathering and no superimposed impact craters have been observed, indicating that these are young features, possibly still active.[101] Other geological features, such as deltas and alluvial fans preserved in craters, are further evidence for warmer, wetter conditions at an interval or intervals in earlier Mars history.[104] Such conditions necessarily require the widespread presence of crater lakes across a large proportion of the surface, for which there is independent mineralogical, sedimentological and geomorphological evidence.[105]

Further evidence that liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars comes from the detection of specific minerals such as hematite and goethite, both of which sometimes form in the presence of water.[108] In 2004, Opportunity detected the mineral jarosite. This forms only in the presence of acidic water, which demonstrates that water once existed on Mars.[109] More recent evidence for liquid water comes from the finding of the mineral gypsum on the surface by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity in December 2011.[110][111] It is estimated that the amount of water in the upper mantle of Mars, represented by hydroxyl ions contained within the minerals of Mars's geology, is equal to or greater than that of Earth at 50300 parts per million of water, which is enough to cover the entire planet to a depth of 2001,000m (6603,280ft).[112]

In 2005, radar data revealed the presence of large quantities of water ice at the poles[91] and at mid-latitudes.[93][113] The Mars rover Spirit sampled chemical compounds containing water molecules in March 2007. The Phoenix lander directly sampled water ice in shallow Martian soil on July 31, 2008.[94]

On March 18, 2013, NASA reported evidence from instruments on the Curiosity rover of mineral hydration, likely hydrated calcium sulfate, in several rock samples including the broken fragments of "Tintina" rock and "Sutton Inlier" rock as well as in veins and nodules in other rocks like "Knorr" rock and "Wernicke" rock.[114][115][116] Analysis using the rover's DAN instrument provided evidence of subsurface water, amounting to as much as 4% water content, down to a depth of 60cm (24in), during the rover's traverse from the Bradbury Landing site to the Yellowknife Bay area in the Glenelg terrain.[114] In September 2015, NASA announced that they had found conclusive evidence of hydrated brine flows on recurring slope lineae, based on spectrometer readings of the darkened areas of slopes.[117][118][119] These observations provided confirmation of earlier hypotheses based on timing of formation and their rate of growth, that these dark streaks resulted from water flowing in the very shallow subsurface.[120] The streaks contain hydrated salts, perchlorates, which have water molecules in their crystal structure.[121] The streaks flow downhill in Martian summer, when the temperature is above 23 degrees Celsius, and freeze at lower temperatures.[122]

Researchers suspect that much of the low northern plains of the planet were covered with an ocean hundreds of meters deep, though this remains controversial.[123] In March 2015, scientists stated that such an ocean might have been the size of Earth's Arctic Ocean. This finding was derived from the ratio of water to deuterium in the modern Martian atmosphere compared to that ratio on Earth. The amount of Martian deuterium is eight times the amount that exists on Earth, suggesting that ancient Mars had significantly higher levels of water. Results from the Curiosity rover had previously found a high ratio of deuterium in Gale Crater, though not significantly high enough to suggest the former presence of an ocean. Other scientists caution that these results have not been confirmed, and point out that Martian climate models have not yet shown that the planet was warm enough in the past to support bodies of liquid water.[124]

Near the northern polar cap is the 81.4 kilometres (50.6mi) wide Korolev Crater, where the Mars Express orbiter found it to be filled with approximately 2,200 cubic kilometres (530cumi) of water ice.[125] The crater floor lies about 2 kilometres (1.2mi) below the rim, and is covered by a 1.8 kilometres (1.1mi) deep central mound of permanent water ice, up to 60 kilometres (37mi) in diameter.[125][126]

In February 2020, it was found that dark streaks called recurring slope lineae (RSL), which appear seasonably, are caused by briny water flowing for a few days annually.[127][128]

North polar early summer water ice cap (1999); a seasonal layer of carbon dioxide ice forms in winter and disappears in summer

Mars has two permanent polar ice caps. During a pole's winter, it lies in continuous darkness, chilling the surface and causing the deposition of 2530% of the atmosphere into slabs of CO2 ice (dry ice).[130] When the poles are again exposed to sunlight, the frozen CO2 sublimes. These seasonal actions transport large amounts of dust and water vapor, giving rise to Earth-like frost and large cirrus clouds. Clouds of water-ice were photographed by the Opportunity rover in 2004.[131]

The caps at both poles consist primarily (70%) of water ice. Frozen carbon dioxide accumulates as a comparatively thin layer about one metre thick on the north cap in the northern winter only, whereas the south cap has a permanent dry ice cover about eight metres thick. This permanent dry ice cover at the south pole is peppered by flat floored, shallow, roughly circular pits, which repeat imaging shows are expanding by meters per year; this suggests that the permanent CO2 cover over the south pole water ice is degrading over time.[132] The northern polar cap has a diameter of about 1,000km (620mi) during the northern Mars summer,[133] and contains about 1.6million cubic kilometres (380,000cumi) of ice, which, if spread evenly on the cap, would be 2km (1.2mi) thick.[134] (This compares to a volume of 2.85million cubic kilometres (680,000cumi) for the Greenland ice sheet.) The southern polar cap has a diameter of 350km (220mi) and a thickness of 3km (1.9mi).[135] The total volume of ice in the south polar cap plus the adjacent layered deposits has been estimated at 1.6million cubic km.[136] Both polar caps show spiral troughs, which recent analysis of SHARAD ice penetrating radar has shown are a result of katabatic winds that spiral due to the Coriolis Effect.[137][138]

The seasonal frosting of areas near the southern ice cap results in the formation of transparent 1-metre-thick slabs of dry ice above the ground. With the arrival of spring, sunlight warms the subsurface and pressure from subliming CO2 builds up under a slab, elevating and ultimately rupturing it. This leads to geyser-like eruptions of CO2 gas mixed with dark basaltic sand or dust. This process is rapid, observed happening in the space of a few days, weeks or months, a rate of change rather unusual in geology especially for Mars. The gas rushing underneath a slab to the site of a geyser carves a spiderweb-like pattern of radial channels under the ice, the process being the inverted equivalent of an erosion network formed by water draining through a single plughole.[139][140][141][142]

Although better remembered for mapping the Moon, Johann Heinrich Mdler and Wilhelm Beer were the first areographers. They began by establishing that most of Mars's surface features were permanent and by more precisely determining the planet's rotation period. In 1840, Mdler combined ten years of observations and drew the first map of Mars. Rather than giving names to the various markings, Beer and Mdler simply designated them with letters; Meridian Bay (Sinus Meridiani) was thus feature "a".[143]

Today, features on Mars are named from a variety of sources. Albedo features are named for classical mythology. Craters larger than 60km are named for deceased scientists and writers and others who have contributed to the study of Mars. Craters smaller than 60km are named for towns and villages of the world with populations of less than 100,000. Large valleys are named for the word "Mars" or "star" in various languages; small valleys are named for rivers.[144]

Large albedo features retain many of the older names, but are often updated to reflect new knowledge of the nature of the features. For example, Nix Olympica (the snows of Olympus) has become Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus).[145] The surface of Mars as seen from Earth is divided into two kinds of areas, with differing albedo. The paler plains covered with dust and sand rich in reddish iron oxides were once thought of as Martian "continents" and given names like Arabia Terra (land of Arabia) or Amazonis Planitia (Amazonian plain). The dark features were thought to be seas, hence their names Mare Erythraeum, Mare Sirenum and Aurorae Sinus. The largest dark feature seen from Earth is Syrtis Major Planum.[146] The permanent northern polar ice cap is named Planum Boreum, whereas the southern cap is called Planum Australe.

Mars's equator is defined by its rotation, but the location of its Prime Meridian was specified, as was Earth's (at Greenwich), by choice of an arbitrary point; Mdler and Beer selected a line for their first maps of Mars in 1830. After the spacecraft Mariner 9 provided extensive imagery of Mars in 1972, a small crater (later called Airy-0), located in the Sinus Meridiani ("Middle Bay" or "Meridian Bay"), was chosen by Merton Davies of the Rand Corporation[147] for the definition of 0.0 longitude to coincide with the original selection.[148]

Because Mars has no oceans and hence no "sea level", a zero-elevation surface had to be selected as a reference level; this is called the areoid[149] of Mars, analogous to the terrestrial geoid.[150] Zero altitude was defined by the height at which there is 610.5Pa (6.105mbar) of atmospheric pressure.[151] This pressure corresponds to the triple point of water, and it is about 0.6% of the sea level surface pressure on Earth (0.006 atm).[152] In practice, today this surface is defined directly from satellite gravity measurements.[citation needed]

For mapping purposes, the United States Geological Survey divides the surface of Mars into thirty cartographic quadrangles, each named for a classical albedo feature it contains. The quadrangles can be seen and explored via the interactive image map below.

The dichotomy of Martian topography is striking: northern plains flattened by lava flows contrast with the southern highlands, pitted and cratered by ancient impacts. Research in 2008 has presented evidence regarding a theory proposed in 1980 postulating that, four billion years ago, the northern hemisphere of Mars was struck by an object one-tenth to two-thirds the size of Earth's Moon. If validated, this would make the northern hemisphere of Mars the site of an impact crater 10,600 by 8,500km (6,600 by 5,300mi) in size, or roughly the area of Europe, Asia, and Australia combined, surpassing the South PoleAitken basin as the largest impact crater in the Solar System.[19][20]

Mars is scarred by a number of impact craters: a total of 43,000 craters with a diameter of 5km (3.1mi) or greater have been found.[157] The largest confirmed of these is the Hellas impact basin, a light albedo feature clearly visible from Earth.[158] Due to the smaller mass of Mars, the probability of an object colliding with the planet is about half that of Earth. Mars is located closer to the asteroid belt, so it has an increased chance of being struck by materials from that source. Mars is more likely to be struck by short-period comets, i.e., those that lie within the orbit of Jupiter.[159] In spite of this, there are far fewer craters on Mars compared with the Moon, because the atmosphere of Mars provides protection against small meteors and surface modifying processes have erased some craters.

Martian craters can have a morphology that suggests the ground became wet after the meteor impacted.[160]

The shield volcano Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus) is an extinct volcano in the vast upland region Tharsis, which contains several other large volcanoes. Olympus Mons is roughly three times the height of Mount Everest, which in comparison stands at just over 8.8km (5.5mi).[161] It is either the tallest or second-tallest mountain in the Solar System, depending on how it is measured, with various sources giving figures ranging from about 21 to 27km (13 to 17mi) high.[162][163]

The large canyon, Valles Marineris (Latin for "Mariner Valleys", also known as Agathadaemon in the old canal maps), has a length of 4,000km (2,500mi) and a depth of up to 7km (4.3mi). The length of Valles Marineris is equivalent to the length of Europe and extends across one-fifth the circumference of Mars. By comparison, the Grand Canyon on Earth is only 446km (277mi) long and nearly 2km (1.2mi) deep. Valles Marineris was formed due to the swelling of the Tharsis area, which caused the crust in the area of Valles Marineris to collapse. In 2012, it was proposed that Valles Marineris is not just a graben, but a plate boundary where 150km (93mi) of transverse motion has occurred, making Mars a planet with possibly a two-tectonic plate arrangement.[164][165]

Images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter have revealed seven possible cave entrances on the flanks of the volcano Arsia Mons.[166] The caves, named after loved ones of their discoverers, are collectively known as the "seven sisters".[167] Cave entrances measure from 100 to 252m (328 to 827ft) wide and they are estimated to be at least 73 to 96m (240 to 315ft) deep. Because light does not reach the floor of most of the caves, it is possible that they extend much deeper than these lower estimates and widen below the surface. "Dena" is the only exception; its floor is visible and was measured to be 130m (430ft) deep. The interiors of these caverns may be protected from micrometeoroids, UV radiation, solar flares and high energy particles that bombard the planet's surface.[168]

Mars lost its magnetosphere 4billion years ago,[169] possibly because of numerous asteroid strikes,[170] so the solar wind interacts directly with the Martian ionosphere, lowering the atmospheric density by stripping away atoms from the outer layer. Both Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Express have detected ionised atmospheric particles trailing off into space behind Mars,[169][171] and this atmospheric loss is being studied by the MAVEN orbiter. Compared to Earth, the atmosphere of Mars is quite rarefied. Atmospheric pressure on the surface today ranges from a low of 30Pa (0.030kPa) on Olympus Mons to over 1,155Pa (1.155kPa) in Hellas Planitia, with a mean pressure at the surface level of 600Pa (0.60kPa).[172] The highest atmospheric density on Mars is equal to that found 35km (115,000ft)[173] above Earth's surface. The resulting mean surface pressure is only 0.6% of that of Earth (101.3 kPa). The scale height of the atmosphere is about 10.8km (35,000ft),[174] which is higher than Earth's, 6km (20,000ft), because the surface gravity of Mars is only about 38% of Earth's, an effect offset by both the lower temperature and 50% higher average molecular weight of the atmosphere of Mars.

The atmosphere of Mars consists of about 96% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon and 1.89% nitrogen along with traces of oxygen and water.[10][175] The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing particulates about 1.5m in diameter which give the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface.[176] It may take on a pink hue due to iron oxide particles suspended in it.[17]

Methane has been detected in the Martian atmosphere;[177][178] it occurs in extended plumes, and the profiles imply that the methane is released from discrete regions. The concentration of methane fluctuates from about 0.24ppb during the northern winter to about 0.65ppb during the summer.[179]

Estimates of its lifetime range from 0.64 years,[180][181] so its presence indicates that an active source of the gas must be present. Methane could be produced by non-biological process such as serpentinization involving water, carbon dioxide, and the mineral olivine, which is known to be common on Mars.[182] Methanogenic microbial life forms in the subsurface are among possible sources. But even if rover missions determine that microscopic Martian life is the source of the methane, the life forms likely reside far below the surface, outside of the rover's reach.[183]

In 1994, the European Space Agency's Mars Express found an ultraviolet glow coming from "magnetic umbrellas" in the southern hemisphere. Mars does not have a global magnetic field which guides charged particles entering the atmosphere. Mars has multiple umbrella-shaped magnetic fields mainly in the southern hemisphere, which are remnants of a global field that decayed billions of years ago.

In late December 2014, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft detected evidence of widespread auroras in Mars's northern hemisphere and descended to approximately 2030 degrees North latitude of Mars's equator. The particles causing the aurora penetrated into the Martian atmosphere, creating auroras below 100km above the surface, Earth's auroras range from 100km to 500km above the surface. Magnetic fields in the solar wind drape over Mars, into the atmosphere, and the charged particles follow the solar wind magnetic field lines into the atmosphere, causing auroras to occur outside the magnetic umbrellas.[185]

On March 18, 2015, NASA reported the detection of an aurora that is not fully understood and an unexplained dust cloud in the atmosphere of Mars.[186]

In September 2017, NASA reported radiation levels on the surface of the planet Mars were temporarily doubled, and were associated with an aurora 25 times brighter than any observed earlier, due to a massive, and unexpected, solar storm in the middle of the month.[187]

Of all the planets in the Solar System, the seasons of Mars are the most Earth-like, due to the similar tilts of the two planets' rotational axes. The lengths of the Martian seasons are about twice those of Earth's because Mars's greater distance from the Sun leads to the Martian year being about two Earth years long. Martian surface temperatures vary from lows of about 143C (225F) at the winter polar caps[13] to highs of up to 35C (95F) in equatorial summer.[14] The wide range in temperatures is due to the thin atmosphere which cannot store much solar heat, the low atmospheric pressure, and the low thermal inertia of Martian soil.[188] The planet is 1.52 times as far from the Sun as Earth, resulting in just 43% of the amount of sunlight.[189]

If Mars had an Earth-like orbit, its seasons would be similar to Earth's because its axial tilt is similar to Earth's. The comparatively large eccentricity of the Martian orbit has a significant effect. Mars is near perihelion when it is summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the north, and near aphelion when it is winter in the southern hemisphere and summer in the north. As a result, the seasons in the southern hemisphere are more extreme and the seasons in the northern are milder than would otherwise be the case. The summer temperatures in the south can be warmer than the equivalent summer temperatures in the north by up to 30C (54F).[190]

Mars has the largest dust storms in the Solar System, reaching speeds of over 160km/h (100mph). These can vary from a storm over a small area, to gigantic storms that cover the entire planet. They tend to occur when Mars is closest to the Sun, and have been shown to increase the global temperature.[191]

Mars (before/after) global dust storm (July 2018)

Mars's average distance from the Sun is roughly 230millionkm (143millionmi), and its orbital period is 687 (Earth) days. The solar day (or sol) on Mars is only slightly longer than an Earth day: 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds.[193] A Martian year is equal to 1.8809 Earth years, or 1 year, 320 days, and 18.2 hours.[10]

The axial tilt of Mars is 25.19 degrees relative to its orbital plane, which is similar to the axial tilt of Earth.[10] As a result, Mars has seasons like Earth, though on Mars they are nearly twice as long because its orbital period is that much longer. In the present day epoch, the orientation of the north pole of Mars is close to the star Deneb.[15]

Mars has a relatively pronounced orbital eccentricity of about 0.09; of the seven other planets in the Solar System, only Mercury has a larger orbital eccentricity. It is known that in the past, Mars has had a much more circular orbit. At one point, 1.35million Earth years ago, Mars had an eccentricity of roughly 0.002, much less than that of Earth today.[194] Mars's cycle of eccentricity is 96,000 Earth years compared to Earth's cycle of 100,000 years.[195] Mars has a much longer cycle of eccentricity, with a period of 2.2million Earth years, and this overshadows the 96,000-year cycle in the eccentricity graphs. For the last 35,000 years, the orbit of Mars has been getting slightly more eccentric because of the gravitational effects of the other planets. The closest distance between Earth and Mars will continue to mildly decrease for the next 25,000 years.[196]

The current understanding of planetary habitabilitythe ability of a world to develop environmental conditions favorable to the emergence of lifefavors planets that have liquid water on their surface. Most often this requires the orbit of a planet to lie within the habitable zone, which for the Sun extends from just beyond Venus to about the semi-major axis of Mars.[197] During perihelion, Mars dips inside this region, but Mars's thin (low-pressure) atmosphere prevents liquid water from existing over large regions for extended periods. The past flow of liquid water demonstrates the planet's potential for habitability. Recent evidence has suggested that any water on the Martian surface may have been too salty and acidic to support regular terrestrial life.[198]

The lack of a magnetosphere and the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars are a challenge: the planet has little heat transfer across its surface, poor insulation against bombardment of the solar wind and insufficient atmospheric pressure to retain water in a liquid form (water instead sublimes to a gaseous state). Mars is nearly, or perhaps totally, geologically dead; the end of volcanic activity has apparently stopped the recycling of chemicals and minerals between the surface and interior of the planet.[200]

In situ investigations have been performed on Mars by the Viking landers, Spirit and Opportunity rovers, Phoenix lander, and Curiosity rover. Evidence suggests that the planet was once significantly more habitable than it is today, but whether living organisms ever existed there remains unknown. The Viking probes of the mid-1970s carried experiments designed to detect microorganisms in Martian soil at their respective landing sites and had positive results, including a temporary increase of CO2 production on exposure to water and nutrients. This sign of life was later disputed by scientists, resulting in a continuing debate, with NASA scientist Gilbert Levin asserting that Viking may have found life. A re-analysis of the Viking data, in light of modern knowledge of extremophile forms of life, has suggested that the Viking tests were not sophisticated enough to detect these forms of life. The tests could even have killed a (hypothetical) life form.[201] Tests conducted by the Phoenix Mars lander have shown that the soil has an alkaline pH and it contains magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride.[202] The soil nutrients may be able to support life, but life would still have to be shielded from the intense ultraviolet light.[203] A recent analysis of martian meteorite EETA79001 found 0.6 ppm ClO4, 1.4 ppm ClO3, and 16 ppm NO3, most likely of Martian origin. The ClO3 suggests the presence of other highly oxidizing oxychlorines, such as ClO2 or ClO, produced both by UV oxidation of Cl and X-ray radiolysis of ClO4. Thus, only highly refractory and/or well-protected (sub-surface) organics or life forms are likely to survive.[204]

A 2014 analysis of the Phoenix WCL showed that the Ca(ClO4)2 in the Phoenix soil has not interacted with liquid water of any form, perhaps for as long as 600 Myr. If it had, the highly soluble Ca(ClO4)2 in contact with liquid water would have formed only CaSO4. This suggests a severely arid environment, with minimal or no liquid water interaction.[206]

Scientists have proposed that carbonate globules found in meteorite ALH84001, which is thought to have originated from Mars, could be fossilized microbes extant on Mars when the meteorite was blasted from the Martian surface by a meteor strike some 15 million years ago. This proposal has been met with skepticism, and an exclusively inorganic origin for the shapes has been proposed.[207]

Small quantities of methane and formaldehyde detected by Mars orbiters are both claimed to be possible evidence for life, as these chemical compounds would quickly break down in the Martian atmosphere.[208][209] Alternatively, these compounds may instead be replenished by volcanic or other geological means, such as serpentinization.[182]

Impact glass, formed by the impact of meteors, which on Earth can preserve signs of life, has been found on the surface of the impact craters on Mars.[210][211] Likewise, the glass in impact craters on Mars could have preserved signs of life if life existed at the site.[212][213][214]

In May 2017, evidence of the earliest known life on land on Earth may have been found in 3.48-billion-year-old geyserite and other related mineral deposits (often found around hot springs and geysers) uncovered in the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia. These findings may be helpful in deciding where best to search for early signs of life on the planet Mars.[215][216]

In early 2018, media reports speculated that certain rock features at a site called Jura looked like a type of fossil, but project scientists say the formations likely resulted from a geological process at the bottom of an ancient drying lakebed, and are related to mineral veins in the area similar to gypsum crystals.[205]

On June 7, 2018, NASA announced that the Curiosity rover had discovered organic compounds in sedimentary rocks dating to three billion years old,[217] indicating that some of the building blocks for life were present.[218][219]

In July 2018, scientists reported the discovery of a subglacial lake on Mars, the first known stable body of water on the planet. It sits 1.5km (0.9mi) below the surface at the base of the southern polar ice cap and is about 20km (12mi) wide.[220][221] The lake was discovered using the MARSIS radar on board the Mars Express orbiter, and the profiles were collected between May 2012 and December 2015.[222] The lake is centered at 193E, 81S, a flat area that does not exhibit any peculiar topographic characteristics. It is mostly surrounded by higher ground except on its eastern side, where there is a depression.[220]

Mars has two relatively small (compared to Earth's) natural moons, Phobos (about 22km (14mi) in diameter) and Deimos (about 12km (7.5mi) in diameter), which orbit close to the planet. Asteroid capture is a long-favored theory, but their origin remains uncertain.[223] Both satellites were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall; they are named after the characters Phobos (panic/fear) and Deimos (terror/dread), who, in Greek mythology, accompanied their father Ares, god of war, into battle. Mars was the Roman counterpart of Ares.[224][225] In modern Greek, the planet retains its ancient name Ares (Aris: ).[226]

From the surface of Mars, the motions of Phobos and Deimos appear different from that of the Moon. Phobos rises in the west, sets in the east, and rises again in just 11 hours. Deimos, being only just outside synchronous orbit where the orbital period would match the planet's period of rotation rises as expected in the east but slowly. Despite the 30-hour orbit of Deimos, 2.7 days elapse between its rise and set for an equatorial observer, as it slowly falls behind the rotation of Mars.[227]

Orbits of Phobos and Deimos (to scale)

Because the orbit of Phobos is below synchronous altitude, the tidal forces from the planet Mars are gradually lowering its orbit. In about 50 million years, it could either crash into Mars's surface or break up into a ring structure around the planet.[227]

The origin of the two moons is not well understood. Their low albedo and carbonaceous chondrite composition have been regarded as similar to asteroids, supporting the capture theory. The unstable orbit of Phobos would seem to point towards a relatively recent capture. But both have circular orbits, near the equator, which is unusual for captured objects and the required capture dynamics are complex. Accretion early in the history of Mars is plausible, but would not account for a composition resembling asteroids rather than Mars itself, if that is confirmed.

A third possibility is the involvement of a third body or a type of impact disruption.[228] More-recent lines of evidence for Phobos having a highly porous interior,[229] and suggesting a composition containing mainly phyllosilicates and other minerals known from Mars,[230] point toward an origin of Phobos from material ejected by an impact on Mars that reaccreted in Martian orbit,[231] similar to the prevailing theory for the origin of Earth's moon. Although the VNIR spectra of the moons of Mars resemble those of outer-belt asteroids, the thermal infrared spectra of Phobos are reported to be inconsistent with chondrites of any class.[230]

Mars may have moons smaller than 50 to 100 metres (160 to 330ft) in diameter, and a dust ring is predicted to exist between Phobos and Deimos.[22]

Dozens of crewless spacecraft, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, have been sent to Mars by the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, and India to study the planet's surface, climate, and geology.

As of 2018[update], Mars is host to eight functioning spacecraft: six in orbit2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Orbiter Mission and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiterand two on the surfaceMars Science Laboratory Curiosity (rover) and InSight (lander). The public can request images of Mars via the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiWish program.

The Mars Science Laboratory, named Curiosity, launched on November 26, 2011, and reached Mars on August 6, 2012 UTC. It is larger and more advanced than the Mars Exploration Rovers, with a movement rate up to 90m (300ft) per hour.[232] Experiments include a laser chemical sampler that can deduce the make-up of rocks at a distance of 7m (23ft).[233] On February 10, 2013, the Curiosity rover obtained the first deep rock samples ever taken from another planetary body, using its on-board drill.[234] The same year, it discovered that Mars's soil contains between 1.5% and 3% water by mass (albeit attached to other compounds and thus not freely accessible).[235] Observations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had previously revealed the possibility of flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.[236]

On September 24, 2014, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation, reached Mars orbit. ISRO launched MOM on November 5, 2013, with the aim of analyzing the Martian atmosphere and topography. The Mars Orbiter Mission used a Hohmann transfer orbit to escape Earth's gravitational influence and catapult into a nine-month-long voyage to Mars. The mission is the first successful Asian interplanetary mission.[237]

The European Space Agency, in collaboration with Roscosmos, launched the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander on March 14, 2016.[238] While the Trace Gas Orbiter successfully entered Mars orbit on October 19, 2016, Schiaparelli crashed during its landing attempt.[239]

In May 2018 NASA's InSight lander was launched, along with the twin MarCO CubeSats that will fly by Mars and provide a telemetry relay for the landing. The mission arrived at Mars in November 2018.[240][241] InSight detected its first potential marsquake in April 2019.[242][243]

InSight Lander panorama (December 9, 2018)

In 2019, MAVEN spacecraft mapped high-altitude global wind patterns at Mars for the first time.[244][245] It was discovered that the winds which are miles above the surface retained information about the land forms below.[244]

NASA plans to launch its Perseverance astrobiology rover between July 17 and August 5, 2020.[246] The rover will cache samples for future retrieval and return to Earth. The current concept for the Mars Sample Return mission would launch in 2026 and feature hardware built by NASA and ESA.[247]

The European Space Agency will launch the ExoMars rover and surface platform in July 2020.[248]

The United Arab Emirates' Mars Hope orbiter is planned for launch in 2020, reaching Mars orbit in 2021. The probe will make a global study of the Martian atmosphere.[249]

Several plans for a human mission to Mars have been proposed throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, but no active plan has an arrival date sooner than the 2020s. SpaceX founder Elon Musk presented a plan in September 2016 to, optimistically, launch a crewed mission to Mars in 2024 at an estimated development cost of US$10 billion, this mission is not expected to take place before 2026.[needs update?][250] In October 2016, President Barack Obama renewed U.S. policy to pursue the goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s, and to continue using the International Space Station as a technology incubator in that pursuit.[251][252] The NASA Authorization Act of 2017 directed NASA to get humans near or on the surface of Mars by the early 2030s.[253]

With the presence of various orbiters, landers, and rovers, it is possible to practice astronomy from Mars. Although Mars's moon Phobos appears about one-third the angular diameter of the full moon on Earth, Deimos appears more or less star-like, looking only slightly brighter than Venus does from Earth.[254]

Various phenomena seen from Earth have also been observed from Mars, such as meteors and auroras.[255] The apparent sizes of the moons Phobos and Deimos are sufficiently smaller than that of the Sun; thus, their partial "eclipses" of the Sun are best considered transits (see transit of Deimos and Phobos from Mars).[256][257] Transits of Mercury and Venus have been observed from Mars. A transit of Earth will be seen from Mars on November 10, 2084.[258]

On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring passed extremely close to Mars, so close that the coma may have enveloped Mars.[259][260][261][262][263][264]

The mean apparent magnitude of Mars is +0.71 with a standard deviation of 1.05.[12] Because the orbit of Mars is eccentric, the magnitude at opposition from the Sun can range from about 3.0 to 1.4.[266] The minimum brightness is magnitude +1.86 when the planet is in conjunction with the Sun.[12] At its brightest, Mars (along with Jupiter) are second only to Venus in luminosity.[12] Mars usually appears distinctly yellow, orange, or red. NASA's Spirit rover has taken pictures of a greenish-brown, mud-colored landscape with blue-grey rocks and patches of light red sand.[267] When farthest away from Earth, it is more than seven times farther away than when it is closest. When least favorably positioned, it can be lost in the Sun's glare for months at a time. At its most favorable timesat 15- or 17-year intervals, and always between late July and late Septembera lot of surface detail can be seen with a telescope. Especially noticeable, even at low magnification, are the polar ice caps.[268]

As Mars approaches opposition, it begins a period of retrograde motion, which means it will appear to move backwards in a looping motion with respect to the background stars. The duration of this retrograde motion lasts for about 72 days, and Mars reaches its peak luminosity in the middle of this motion.[269]

The point at which Mars's geocentric longitude is 180 different from the Sun's is known as opposition, which is near the time of closest approach to Earth. The time of opposition can occur as much as 8.5 days away from the closest approach. The distance at close approach varies between about 54 and 103millionkm (34 and 64millionmi) due to the planets' elliptical orbits, which causes comparable variation in angular size.[270][271] The last Mars opposition occurred on July 27, 2018,[272] at a distance of about 58millionkm (36millionmi).[273] The next Mars opposition occurs on October 13, 2020, at a distance of about 63millionkm (39millionmi).[273] The average time between the successive oppositions of Mars, its synodic period, is 780 days; but the number of days between the dates of successive oppositions can range from 764 to 812.[274]

As Mars approaches opposition it begins a period of retrograde motion, which makes it appear to move backwards in a looping motion relative to the background stars. The duration of this retrograde motion is about 72 days.

Mars made its closest approach to Earth and maximum apparent brightness in nearly 60,000 years, 55,758,006km (0.37271925AU; 34,646,419mi), magnitude 2.88, on August 27, 2003, at 9:51:13UTC. This occurred when Mars was one day from opposition and about three days from its perihelion, making it particularly easy to see from Earth. The last time it came so close is estimated to have been on September 12, 57,617 BC, the next time being in 2287.[275] This record approach was only slightly closer than other recent close approaches. For instance, the minimum distance on August 22, 1924, was 0.37285AU, and the minimum distance on August 24, 2208, will be 0.37279AU.[195]

Every 15 to 17 years Mars comes into opposition near its perihelion. These perihelic oppositions make a closer approach to earth than other oppositions which occur every 2.1 years. Mars comes into perihelic opposition in 2003, 2018 and 2035, with 2020 and 2033 being close to perihelic opposition.

The history of observations of Mars is marked by the oppositions of Mars, when the planet is closest to Earth and hence is most easily visible, which occur every couple of years. Even more notable are the perihelic oppositions of Mars, which occur every 15 or 17 years and are distinguished because Mars is close to perihelion, making it even closer to Earth.

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Mars - Wikipedia

Mars | Facts, Surface, Temperature, & Atmosphere | Britannica

Mars, fourth planet in the solar system in order of distance from the Sun and seventh in size and mass. It is a periodically conspicuous reddish object in the night sky. Mars is designated by the symbol .

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Englands Black Country got its name because of:

Sometimes called the Red Planet, Mars has long been associated with warfare and slaughter. It is named for the Roman god of war. As long as 3,000 years ago, Babylonian astronomer-astrologers called the planet Nergal for their god of death and pestilence. The planets two moons, Phobos (Greek: Fear) and Deimos (Terror), were named for two of the sons of Ares and Aphrodite (the counterparts of Mars and Venus, respectively, in Greek mythology).

In recent times Mars has intrigued people for more-substantial reasons than its baleful appearance. The planet is the second closest to Earth, after Venus, and it is usually easy to observe in the night sky because its orbit lies outside Earths. It is also the only planet whose solid surface and atmospheric phenomena can be seen in telescopes from Earth. Centuries of assiduous studies by earthbound observers, extended by spacecraft observations since the 1960s, have revealed that Mars is similar to Earth in many ways. Like Earth, Mars has clouds, winds, a roughly 24-hour day, seasonal weather patterns, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and other familiar features. There are intriguing clues that billions of years ago Mars was even more Earth-like than today, with a denser, warmer atmosphere and much more waterrivers, lakes, flood channels, and perhaps oceans. By all indications Mars is now a sterile frozen desert. However, close-up images of dark streaks on the slopes of some craters during Martian spring and summer suggest that at least small amounts of water may flow seasonally on the planets surface, and radar reflections from a possible lake under the south polar cap suggest that water may still exist as a liquid in protected areas below the surface. The presence of water on Mars is considered a critical issue because life as it is presently understood cannot exist without water. If microscopic life-forms ever did originate on Mars, there remains a chance, albeit a remote one, that they may yet survive in these hidden watery niches. In 1996 a team of scientists reported what they concluded to be evidence for ancient microbial life in a piece of meteorite that had come from Mars, but most scientists have disputed their interpretation.

Since at least the end of the 19th century, Mars has been considered the most hospitable place in the solar system beyond Earth both for indigenous life and for human exploration and habitation. At that time, speculation was rife that the so-called canals of Marscomplex systems of long, straight surface lines that very few astronomers had claimed to see in telescopic observationswere the creations of intelligent beings. Seasonal changes in the planets appearance, attributed to the spread and retreat of vegetation, added further to the purported evidence for biological activity. Although the canals later proved to be illusory and the seasonal changes geologic rather than biological, scientific and public interest in the possibility of Martian life and in exploration of the planet has not faded.

During the past century Mars has taken on a special place in popular culture. It has served as inspiration for generations of fiction writers from H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs in the heyday of the Martian canals to Ray Bradbury in the 1950s and Kim Stanley Robinson in the 90s. Mars has also been a central theme in radio, television, and film, perhaps the most notorious case being Orson Welless radio-play production of H.G. Wellss novel War of the Worlds, which convinced thousands of unwitting listeners on the evening of October 30, 1938, that beings from Mars were invading Earth. The planets mystique and many real mysteries remain a stimulus to both scientific inquiry and human imagination to this day.

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Mars | Facts, Surface, Temperature, & Atmosphere | Britannica

NASAs Mars Exploration Program

Astrobiology is a relatively new field of study, where scientists from a variety of disciplines (astronomy, biology, geology, physics, etc.) work together to understand the potential for life to exist beyond Earth. However, the exploration of Mars has been intertwined with NASAs search for life from the beginning. The twin Viking landers of 1976 were NASAs first life detection mission, and although the results from the experiments failed to detect life in the Martian regolith, and resulted in a long period with fewer Mars missions, it was not the end of the fascination that the Astrobiology science community had for the red planet.

The field of Astrobiology saw a resurgence due to the controversy surrounding the possible fossil life in the ALH84001 meteorite, and from the outsized public response to this announcement, and subsequent interest from Congress and the White House, NASAs Astrobiology Program (https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ )and one of its major programs, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (https://nai.nasa.gov/ ) were formed.

Also at this time, NASAs Mars Exploration Program began to investigate Mars with an increasing focus on missions to the Red Planet. The Pathfinder mission and Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) were sent to Mars to Follow the Water, recognizing that liquid water is necessary for life to exist on Earth. After establishing that Mars once had significant amount of water on its surface, the Mars Science Laboratory (which includes the Curiosity rover) was sent to Mars to determine whether Mars had the right ingredients in the rocks to host life, signaling a shift to the next theme of Explore Habitability. MEP is now developing the Mars 2020 rover mission (https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mars2020/ ) to determine whether life may have left telltale signatures in the rocks on Marss surface, a further shift to the current science theme Seek the Signs of Life.

Finding fossils preserved from early Mars might tell us that life once flourished on this planet. We can search for evidence of cells preserved in rocks, or at a much smaller scale: compounds called biosignatures are molecular fossils, specific compounds that give some indication of the organisms that created them. However, over hundreds of millions of years these molecular fossils on Mars are subject to being destroyed or transformed to the point where they may no longer be recognized as biosignatures. Future missions must either find surface regions where erosion from wind-blown sand has recently exposed very ancient material, or alternately samples must be obtained from a shielded region beneath the surface. This latter approach is being taken by the ExoMars rover (http://exploration.esa.int/mars/48088-mission-overview/ ) under development where drilled samples taken from a depth of up to 2 meters will be analyzed.

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NASAs Mars Exploration Program

Overview | Mars NASA Solar System Exploration

The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere.

This dynamic planet has seasons, polar ice caps and weather and canyons and extinct volcanoes, evidence of an even more active past.

Mars is one of the most explored bodies in our solar system, and it's the only planet where we've sent rovers to roam the alien landscape. NASA currently has three spacecraft in orbit, one rover and one lander on the surface and another rover under construction here on Earth. India and ESA also have spacecraft in orbit above Mars.

These robotic explorers have found lots of evidence that Mars was much wetter and warmer, with a thicker atmosphere, billions of years ago.

Go farther. Explore Mars In Depth

Ten Things to Know About Mars

10 Need-to-Know Things About Mars

1

If the Sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be the size of a dime, and Mars would be about as big as an aspirin tablet.

2

Mars orbits our Sun, a star. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun at an average distance of about 228 million km (142 million miles) or 1.52 AU.

3

One day on Mars takes a little over 24 hours. Mars makes a complete orbit around the Sun (a year in Martian time) in 687 Earth days.

4

Mars is a rocky planet. Its solid surface has been altered by volcanoes, impacts, winds, crustal movement and chemical reactions.

5

Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide (CO2), argon (Ar), nitrogen (N2), and a small amount of oxygen and water vapor.

6

Mars has two moons named Phobos and Deimos.

7

There are no rings around Mars.

8

Several missions have visited this planet, from flybys and orbiters to rovers on the surface.The first true Mars mission success was the Mariner 4 flyby in 1965.

9

At this time, Mars' surface cannot support life as we know it. Current missions are determining Mars' past and future potential for life.

10

Mars is known as the Red Planet because iron minerals in the Martian soil oxidize, or rust, causing the soil and atmosphere to look red.

Humans to Mars

NASA's latest robotic mission to the Red Planet, Mars 2020, aims to help future astronauts brave that inhospitable landscape.

While the science goal of the Mars 2020 rover is to look for signs of ancient life it will be the first spacecraft to collect samples of the Martian surface, caching them in tubes that could be returned to Earth on a future mission the vehicle also includes technology that paves the way for human exploration of Mars.

Robotic explorers, like the Mars 2020 rover, have long served as pathfinders to get humans into space, to the Moon and, eventually, the the surface of the Red Planet.

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Pop Culture

No other planet has captured our collective imagination quite like Mars.

In the late 1800s when people first observed the canal-like features on Mars' surface, many speculated that an intelligent alien species resided there. This led to numerous stories about Martians, some of whom invade Earth, like in the 1938 radio drama, The War of the Worlds. According to an enduring urban legend, many listeners believed the story to be real news coverage of an invasion, causing widespread panic.

Countless stories since have taken place on Mars or explored the possibilities of its Martian inhabitants. Movies like Total Recall (1990 and 2012) take us to a terraformed Mars and a struggling colony running out of air. A Martian colony and Earth have a prickly relationship in The Expanse television series and novels.

And in the 2014 novel and and its 2015 movie adaptation, The Martian, botanist Mark Whatney is stranded alone on the planet and struggles to survive until a rescue mission can retrieve him.

Kid-Friendly Mars

Kid-Friendly Mars

Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It's red because of rusty iron in the ground.

Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.

There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground.

Visit NASA SpacePlace for more kid-friendly facts.

Resources

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Overview | Mars NASA Solar System Exploration

Mars (TV Series 20162018) – IMDb

I thought this was horrible. I love The National Geographic Channel, they have some amazing programs. This is not one of them. To be fair, I have only seen the premier episode but from slugging through that I am not 1 bit interested in watching another episode.

They tried a new concept of mixing present day education of space travels past, present and possible with a fictional drama of an actual mission to Mars. The show bounces back and forth from documentary or classroom to fiction moving from past present to future, it's very disjointed. I think I would quite enjoy the documentary part on it's own. I would not enjoy the fictional drama on it's own because it's just plain bad. If you want to see a fictional mission to Mars there are several good Hollywood movies that cover this subject and they do a much better job, watch one of those instead.

The dramatic part of the show is incredibly slow moving, things move along so slowly I had trouble keeping my eyes open, it made me want to take a nap. The filming of the dramatic section was weird, the camera was too close to the actors, I suppose the director thought that would impart a feeling of claustrophobia and cramped spaces, I could have gotten the same idea if the camera had been pulled back. Being so close to everything kind of creates a dizzying effect and made me even more uncomfortable watching.

I was so excited to see this series so when I actually saw it and how bad it was it was extra disappointed. I felt like the Drama part was very unrealistic, it seemed like they got a lot of things wrong, I never felt like the actors were actually on Mars, it looked and felt like they were in a desert in Arizona or some such place.

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Mars (TV Series 20162018) - IMDb

Mars Facts: Life, Water and Robots on the Red Planet | Space

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. Befitting the Red Planet's bloody color, the Romans named it after their god of war. In truth, the Romans copied the ancient Greeks, who also named the planet after their god of war, Ares. Other civilizations also typically gave the planet names based on its color for example, the Egyptians named it "Her Desher," meaning "the red one," while ancient Chinese astronomers dubbed it "the fire star."

The bright rust color Mars is known for is due toiron-rich mineralsin its regolith the loose dust and rock covering its surface. The soil of Earth is a kind of regolith, too, albeit one loaded with organic content. According to NASA, the iron minerals oxidize, or rust, causing the soil to look red.

Thecold, thin atmospheremeans liquid water likely cannot exist on the Martian surface for any length of time. Features called recurring slope lineae may have spurts of briny water flowing on the surface, but this evidence is disputed; some scientists argue the hydrogen spotted from orbit in this region may instead indicate briny salts. This means that although this desert planet is just half the diameter of Earth, it has the same amount of dry land.

The Red Planet is home to both the highest mountain and the deepest, longest valley in the solar system.Olympus Monsis roughly 17 miles (27 kilometers) high, about three times as tall as Mount Everest, while theValles Marineris system of valleys named after the Mariner 9 probe that discovered it in 1971 reaches as deep as 6 miles (10 km) and runs east-west for roughly 2,500 miles (4,000 km), about one-fifth of the distance around Mars and close to the width of Australia.

Scientists think the Valles Marineris formed mostly by rifting of the crust as it got stretched. Individual canyons within the system are as much as 60 miles (100 km) wide. The canyons merge in the central part of the Valles Marineris in a region as much as 370 miles (600 km) wide. Large channels emerging from the ends of some canyons and layered sediments within suggest the canyons might once have been filled with liquid water.

Mars also has the largest volcanoes in the solar system, Olympus Mons being one of them. The massive volcano, which is about 370 miles (600 km) in diameter, is wide enough to cover the state of New Mexico. Olympus Mons is a shield volcano, with slopes that rise gradually like those of Hawaiian volcanoes, and was created by eruptions of lavas that flowed for long distances before solidifying. Mars also has many other kinds of volcanic landforms, from small, steep-sided cones to enormous plains coated in hardened lava. Some minor eruptions might still occur on the planet.

Channels, valleys and gullies are found all over Mars, and suggest that liquid water might have flowed across the planet's surface in recent times. Some channels can be 60 miles (100 km) wide and 1,200 miles (2,000 km) long.Water may still lie in cracks and pores in underground rock. A study by scientists in 2018 suggested that salty water below the Martian surface could hold a considerable amount of oxygen, which would support microbial life. However, the amount of oxygen depends on temperature and pressure; temperature changes on Mars from time to time as the tilt of its rotation axis shifts.

Many regions of Mars are flat, low-lying plains. The lowest of the northern plains are among the flattest, smoothest places in the solar system, potentially created by water that once flowed across the Martian surface. The northern hemisphere mostly lies at a lower elevation than the southern hemisphere, suggesting the crust may be thinner in the north than in the south. This difference between the north and south might be due to a very large impact shortly after the birth of Mars.

The number of craters on Mars varies dramatically from place to place, depending on how old the surface is. Much of the surface of the southern hemisphere is extremely old, and so has many craters including the planet's largest, 1,400-mile-wide (2,300 km) Hellas Planitia while that of northern hemisphere is younger and so has fewer craters. Some volcanoes also have a few craters, which suggests they erupted recently, with the resulting lava covering up any old craters. Some craters have unusual-looking deposits of debris around them resembling solidified mudflows, potentially indicating that the impactor hit underground water or ice.

In 2018, the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft detected what could be a slurry of water and grains underneath icy Planum Australe. (Some reports describe it as a "lake," but it's unclear how much regolith is inside the water.) This body of water is said to be about 12.4 miles (20 km) across. Its underground location is reminiscent of similar underground lakes in Antarctica, which have been found to host microbes. Late in the year, Mars Express also spied a huge, icy zone in the Red Planet's Korolev Crater.

Vast deposits of what appear to be finely layered stacks of water ice and dust extend from the poles to latitudes of about 80 degrees in both hemispheres. These were probably deposited by the atmosphere over long spans of time. On top of much of these layered deposits in both hemispheres are caps of water ice that remain frozen year-round.

Additional seasonal caps of frost appear in the wintertime. These are made of solid carbon dioxide, also known as "dry ice," which has condensed from carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. In the deepest part of the winter, this frost can extend from the poles to latitudes as low as 45 degrees, or halfway to the equator. Thedry ice layerappears to have a fluffy texture, like freshly fallen snow, according to a report in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets.

Mars is much colder than Earth, in large part due to its greater distance from the sun. Theaverage temperatureis about minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 60 degrees Celsius), although it can vary from minus 195 F (minus 125 C) near the poles during the winter to as much as 70 F (20 C) at midday near the equator.

The carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere of Mars is also about 100 times less dense than Earth's on average, but it is nevertheless thick enough to support weather, clouds and winds. The density of the atmosphere varies seasonally, as winter forces carbon dioxide to freeze out of the Martian air. In the ancient past, the atmosphere was likely thicker and able to support water flowing on its surface. Over time, lighter molecules in the Martian atmosphere escaped under pressure from the solar wind, which affected the atmosphere because Mars does not have a global magnetic field. This process is being studied today by NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found the first definitive detections ofcarbon-dioxide snow clouds, making Mars the only body in the solar system known to host such unusual winter weather. The Red Planet also causes water-ice snow to fall from the clouds.

The dust storms on Mars are the largest in the solar system, capable of blanketing the entire Red Planet and lasting for months. One theory as to why dust storms can grow so big on Mars is because the airborne dust particles absorb sunlight, warming the Martian atmosphere in their vicinity. Warm pockets of air then flow toward colder regions, generating winds. Strong winds lift more dust off the ground, which, in turn, heats the atmosphere, raising more wind and kicking up more dust.

The axis of Mars, like Earth's, is tilted with relation to the sun. This means that like Earth, the amount of sunlight falling on certain parts of the Red Planet can vary widely during the year, giving Mars seasons.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get to Mars

However, the seasons that Mars experiences are more extreme than Earth's because the Red Planet's elliptical, oval-shaped orbit around the sun is more elongated than that of any of the other major planets. When Mars is closest to the sun, its southern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, giving it a short, very hot summer, while the northern hemisphere experiences a short, cold winter. When Mars is farthest from the sun, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, giving it a long, mild summer, while the southern hemisphere experiences a long, cold winter.

The tilt of the Red Planet's axis swings wildly over time because it's not stabilized by a large moon, such as Earth is. This led to different climates on the Martian surface throughout its history. A 2017 study suggests that the changing tilt also influenced therelease of methaneinto Mars' atmosphere, causing temporary warming periods that allowed water to flow.

Facts about Mars' orbit:

Average distance from the sun: 141,633,260 miles (227,936,640 km). By comparison: 1.524 times that of Earth.

Perihelion (closest): 128,400,000 miles (206,600,000 km). By comparison: 1.404 times that of Earth.

Aphelion (farthest): 154,900,000 miles (249,200,000 km). By comparison: 1.638 times that of Earth.

Atmospheric composition (by volume)

According to NASA, the atmosphere of Mars is 95.32 percent carbon dioxide, 2.7 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent argon, 0.13 percent oxygen, 0.08 percent carbon monoxide, with minor amounts of water, nitrogen oxide, neon, hydrogen-deuterium-oxygen, krypton and xenon.

Magnetic field

Mars currently has no global magnetic field, but there are regions of its crust that can be at least 10 times more strongly magnetized than anything measured on Earth, which suggests those regions are remnants of an ancient global magnetic field.

Chemical composition

Mars likely has a solid core composed of iron, nickel and sulfur. The mantle of Mars is probably similar to Earth's in that it is composed mostly of peridotite, which is made up primarily of silicon, oxygen, iron and magnesium. The crust is probably largely made of the volcanic rock basalt, which is also common in the crusts of the Earth and the moon, although some crustal rocks, especially in the northern hemisphere, may be a form of andesite, a volcanic rock that contains more silica than basalt does.

Internal structure

Scientists think that on average, the Martian core is between 1,800 and 2,400 miles in diameter (3,000 and 4,000 km), its mantle is about 900 to 1,200 miles (5,400 to 7,200 km) wide and its crust is about 30 miles (50 km) thick.

The twomoons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, were discovered by American astronomer Asaph Hall over the course of a week in 1877. Hall had almost given up his search for a moon of Mars, but his wife, Angelina, urged him on. He discovered Deimos the next night, and Phobos six days after that. He named the moons after the sons of the Greek war god Ares Phobos means "fear," while Deimos means "rout."

Both Phobos and Deimos are apparently made of carbon-rich rock mixed with ice and are covered in dust and loose rocks. They are tiny next to Earth's moon, and are irregularly shaped, since they lack enough gravity to pull themselves into a more circular form. The widestPhobosgets is about 17 miles (27 km), and the widest Deimos gets is roughly 9 miles (15 km).

Both moons are pockmarked with craters from meteor impacts. The surface of Phobos also possesses an intricate pattern of grooves, which may be cracks that formed after the impact created the moon's largest crater a hole about 6 miles (10 km) wide, or nearly half the width of Phobos. They always show the same face to Mars, just as our moon does to Earth.

It remains uncertain how Phobos andDeimoswere born. They may have been asteroids captured by Mars' gravitational pull, or they may have been formed in orbit around Mars the same time the planet came into existence.Ultraviolet lightreflected from Phobos provides strong evidence that the moon is a captured asteroid ,according to astronomers at the University of Padova in Italy.

Phobos is gradually spiraling toward Mars, drawing about 6 feet (1.8 meters) closer to the Red Planet each century. Within 50 million years, Phobos will either smash into Mars or break up and form a ring of debris around the planet.

The first person to watch Mars with a telescope wasGalileo Galilei. In the century following, astronomers discovered the planet's polar ice caps. In the 19th and 20th centuries, researchers believed they saw a network of long, straight canals on Mars, that hinted at possible civilization, although later these proved to be mistaken interpretations of dark regions they saw.

A number of martian rocks have fallen to the surface of Earth over the eons, providing scientists a rare opportunity to study Martian rocks without having to leave our planet. One of the most controversial finds was Allan Hills 84001 (ALH 84001) a Martian meteorite that in 1996, was said to contain shapes reminiscent of small fossils. The find garnered a lot of media attention at the time, but subsequent studies dismissed the idea. The debate was still ongoing in 2016, the 20th anniversary of the announcement. In 2018, a separate meteorite study found that organic molecules the building blocks of life, although not necessarily life itself could have formed on Mars through battery-like chemical reactions.

Robotic spacecraft began observing Mars in the 1960s, with the United States launchingMariner 4 in 1964 and Mariners 6 and 7 in 1969. The missions revealed Mars to be a barren world, without any signs of the life or civilizations people had imagined there. In 1971,Mariner 9orbited Mars, mapping about 80 percent of the planet and discovering its volcanoes and canyons.

The Soviet Union also launched numerous spacecraft in the 1960s and early 1970s, but most of those missions failed. Mars 2 (1971) and Mars 3 (1971) operated successfully, but were unable to map the surface due to dust storms. NASA'sViking 1lander touched down on the surface of Mars in 1976, the first successful landing on the Red Planet. The lander took the first close-up pictures of the Martian surface but found no strongevidence for life.

The next two craft to successfully reach Mars were the Mars Pathfinder, a lander, andMars Global Surveyor, an orbiter, both launched in 1996. A small robot onboard Pathfinder namedSojourner the first wheeled rover to explore the surface of another planet ventured over the planet's surface analyzing rocks.

In 2001, the NASA launched theMars Odysseyprobe, which discovered vast amounts of water ice beneath the Martian surface, mostly in the upper 3 feet (1 meter). It remains uncertain whether more water lies underneath, since the probe cannot see water any deeper.

In 2003, Mars passed closer to Earth than anytime in that past 60,000 years. That same year, NASA launched two rovers, nicknamedSpiritandOpportunity, which explored different regions of the Martian surface. Both rovers found signs that water once flowed on the planet's surface.

In 2008, NASA sent another mission, Phoenix, to land in the northern plains of Mars and search for water which it succeeded in doing.

In 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission sent theMars Curiosity rover, to investigate Martian rocks and determine the geologic processes that created them. Among the mission's findings was thefirst meteoriteon the surface of the Red Planet. The rover has found complex organic molecules on the surface, as well as seasonal fluctuations in methane concentrations in the atmosphere.

NASA has two other orbiters working around the planet,Mars Reconnaissance OrbiterandMAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution). The European Space Agency (ESA) also has two spacecraft orbiting the planet:Mars Expressand the Trace Gas Orbiter.

In September 2014, India'sMars Orbiter Missionalso reached the Red Planet, making it the fourth nation to successfully enter orbit around Mars.

In November 2018, NASA sent a stationary lander called Mars InSight to the surface. InSight will examine the planet's geologic activity by burrowing a probe underground.

NASA plans to launch a successor rover mission to Curiosity, called Mars 2020. This mission will search for ancient signs of life and, depending on how promising its samples look, it may "cache" the results in safe spots on the Red Planet for a future rover to pick up.

ESA is working on its own ExoMars rover that should also launch in 2020, and will include a drill to go deep into the Red Planet, collecting soil samples from about 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep.

Mars is far from an easy planet to reach. NASA, Russia, the European Space Agency, China, Japan and the Soviet Union collectively lost many spacecraft in their quest to explore the Red Planet. Notable examples include:

1992 NASA's Mars Observer

1996 Russia's Mars 96

1998 NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter, Japan's Nozomi

1999 NASA's Mars Polar Lander

2003 ESA's Beagle 2 lander

2011 Russia's Fobus-Grunt mission to Phobos with the Chinese Yinghuo-1 orbiter

2016 ESA's Schiaparelli test lander

Robots aren't the only ones getting a ticket to Mars. A workshop group of scientists from government agencies, academia and industry have determined that aNASA-led manned mission to Marsshould be possible by the 2030s. However, in late 2017, the Trump administration directed NASA to send people back to the moon before going to Mars. NASA is now more focused on a concept called the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway that would be a moon-based space station and headquarters for further space exploration.

Robotic missions to the Red Planet have seen much success in the past few decades, but it remains a considerable challenge to get people to Mars. With current rocket technology, it would take several months for people to travel to Mars, and that means they would live for several months in microgravity, which has devastating effects on the human body. Performing activities in the moderate gravity on Mars could prove extremely difficult after many months in microgravity. Research on the effects of microgravity continues on the International Space Station.

NASA isn't the only one with Martian astronaut hopefuls. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has outlined multiple concepts to bring people to Mars. In November 2018, Musk rebranded SpaceX's future "Big Falcon Rocket" to "Starship". Other nations, including China and Russia, have also announced their goals for sending humans to Mars.

Additional resources:

This article was updated on Feb. 7, 2019, by Space.com contributor Elizabeth Howell.

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Mars Facts: Life, Water and Robots on the Red Planet | Space

NASA’s next Mars rover is just one month away from launch – Space.com

NASA's next Mars rover is in the home stretch now.

The launch of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance, the life-hunting, sample-caching Red Planet explorer, is just a month away. The car-size robot is scheduled to lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a window that runs from July 20 through Aug. 11.

Getting to this point has not been easy. Mission teams have had to prep the rover and rocket for liftoff while the coronavirus pandemic swirled around them, forcing the closure of many NASA facilities. But the space agency prioritized getting Perseverance to the pad on time (while protecting workers' safety as well), given that Mars-mission launch windows open just once every 26 months.

"If we have to take Perseverance and put it back into storage for a period of two years, it could cost half a billion dollars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a news conference last Wednesday (June 17).

Related: NASA's Mars 2020 rover Perseverance in pictures

That would be on top of the $2.7 billion total price tag for Perseverance's mission, which is called Mars 2020.

Whenever the six-wheeled rover lifts off during the coming window, it will land on Feb. 18, 2021, inside the Red Planet's 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater. Jezero harbored a lake and river delta billions of years ago, and Perseverance will use its seven science instruments to characterize that potentially habitable ancient environment and look for evidence of long-dead Mars life, among other things.

No robot has hunted for signs of life on the Martian surface since NASA's twin Viking landers, which touched down in the mid-1970s to look for extant organisms.

But, as the Vikings' ambiguous results show, making a definitive detection of alien life is a tall order for a lonely robot on a faraway world. So, Perseverance will also collect and cache several dozen pristine samples, which will be brought to Earth by a joint NASA/European Space Agency effort in 2031, if current plans hold.

"On the Perseverance side, we see it as our job to identify potential biosignatures things that are worthy of additional study here on Earth, with the full arsenal of analytical capabilities that we have here in our own laboratories," Mars 2020 deputy project scientist Katie Stack Morgan, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said during Wednesday's news conference. "I think that's how we're going to approach that question of the surface of Mars."

Perseverance will also test out tech for future exploration efforts. For example, one of the rover's instruments will generate oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, which is thin and dominated by carbon dioxide. Such tech could help human pioneers live and work on the Red Planet someday, NASA officials have said.

The Mars 2020 mission also features a tiny helicopter named Ingenuity, which will travel to the Red Planet on Perseverance's belly. Ingenuity will make a few short test flights in the Martian sky, potentially paving the way for future rotorcraft that could serve as rover scouts and/or gather lots of data on their own.

"Getting it to Mars, getting it safely off the vehicle we're going to learn a lot," Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace said of Ingenuity. "We are not looking for an extensive and ambitious return from this technology; we're looking to learn those first few things that we need to learn."

The nuclear-powered Perseverance is also outfitted with 23 cameras and two microphones. If all goes according to plan, the mission will capture high-definition video of Perseverance's dramatic sky-crane landing and record the sounds of the Martian surface. Both types of data collection would be unprecedented.

"Perseverance is the most sophisticated mission we've ever sent to the Red Planet's surface," said Lori Glaze, the director of NASA's Planetary Science Division.

Two other NASA robots are active on the Martian surface at the moment: the InSight Mars lander, which has been monitoring marsquakes since its November 2018 touchdown, and the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater since August 2012.

Curiosity is Perseverance's forebear in multiple ways. Perseverance's chassis is based heavily on that of the older rover, which also pioneered the sky-crane landing strategy that Mars 2020 will employ. And Curiosity has determined that at least some parts of Mars were capable of supporting Earth-like life in the ancient past, paving the way for Perseverance to take the next step and hunt for signs of native Martian organisms.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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NASA's next Mars rover is just one month away from launch - Space.com

NASA needs your help teaching its Curiosity rover how to drive on Mars – Space.com

NASA is asking for your help to guide its Curiosity rover around sand traps, sharp rocks and other obstacles on the Red Planet.

A new online tool called AI4Mars, hosted on Zooniverse, allows anyone to label parts of the terrain in the landscape surrounding Curiosity, which has been roving on Mars since 2012.

The tool is a form of "machine learning" that allows rover planners assisting with Curiosity's movements to train the rover's intelligence for safe route planning. Picking an appropriate pathway is a pressing problem for Martian rovers. Curiosity's wheels wore down in the early years of its mission from driving over sharp rocks, while another Mars rover called Spirit got permanently stuck in a sand trap in 2010.

Related: How do you drive a Mars rover from home?

The first stage of training the algorithm, called SPOC (short for "Soil Property and Object Classification"), will allow it to distinguish between different types of terrain. SPOC is already used by Martian rover drivers, but bringing in the public will provide more training information at a faster pace. Curiosity's challenges are distinct from the self-driving car algorithms available, for example, as the rover isn't working with roads, pedestrians or traffic signs. So more help is needed to get the algorithm trained quickly.

"In the future, we hope this algorithm can become accurate enough to do other useful tasks, like predicting how likely a rover's wheels are to slip on different surfaces," Hiro Ono, an artificial intelligence researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

A typical rover drive takes about four to five hours to plan, including several people writing and reviewing hundreds of lines of code, JPL said in the statement. Coders aren't the only ones involved in the process. Geologists look at the terrain for safety issues, planners make sure the rover's high-gain antenna has a clear line of sight to Earth so the rover can communicate with mission control, and teams also consider how shadows may interfere with the rover's distance measurements. (Curiosity uses visual odometry, a technique that compares camera images to landmarks in the vicinity, so shadows can make the process more difficult, NASA said.)

"It's our job to figure out how to safely get the mission's science," Stephanie Oij, one of the JPL rover planners involved in AI4Mars, said in the same statement. "Automatically generating terrain labels would save us time and help us be more productive."

Curiosity's training will also give a boost to the Perseverance rover, which is expected to launch no earlier than July 20 for a landing on Mars in 2021. More than 8,000 Curiosity images are available on the AI4Mars site already, allowing the public to start labeling images to help Curiosity and eventually, Perseverance.

Images from the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity who have both ended their missions may be available on AI4Mars in the future, Ono added. More languages are also expected shortly on AI4Mars to assist volunteers, including Spanish, Hindi and Japanese.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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NASA needs your help teaching its Curiosity rover how to drive on Mars - Space.com

What’s the science on the Emirates Mars Mission? – DW (English)

Every 18 to 24 months, Earth and Mars align in such a way as to make deep-space travel that little bit easier, or at least a bit faster. That reduces a trip or "trajectory" to the Red Planet from about nine months down to seven.

That means that July is shaping up to be a very busy time for missions to Mars.

There are three all launching within days of each other the Emirates Mars Mission, with its atmospheric probe, Hope or "Al-Amal," NASA's Mars 2020, carrying a lander called Perseverance, and China's "Tianwen-1", a collection of orbiters and landers. In fact, there would have been a fourth mission in Europe's ExoMars 2020.

Read more:A question about race in space

"If they don't go know, they will have a very long wait," says Malcolm Macdonald, a professor of space technology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. "That's why the Americans, for instance, through the current pandemic, prioritized Demo-2, the SpaceX crewed mission to the International Space Station, and their Mars mission."

How the coronavirus pandemic has affected the Chinese mission is hard to know. And Europe's ExoMars 2020 was already heading for delays.

As for the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), failing to leave now would set a 100-year plan for national and interplanetary transformation back by two years. So, after a round of ultra-fast thinking, which predicted the lockdown and those closed international borders, the team dispatched its spacecraft, Hope, and a team of Emirati engineers for the launch in Japan before it was too late.

A sense of urgency

There is a sense of urgency in the UAE that harks back to when the nation was established in 1971, starting from a point where infrastructure like transport and education were underdeveloped.

It was "evident then that you needed to do things rapidly to get on a par with the world," says Sarah Al-Amiri, the EMM's Science Lead, in an interview with DW.

Read more:SpaceX rocket ship blasts off on historic flight to International Space Station

And you can see that in the way the EMM has grown. The UAE has been developing Earth Observation spacecraft since 2006, which is a short time in itself. But the Mars mission has gone from a feasibility study in 2013 to its announcement a year later, and now a launch in 2020. Six short years.

Emirates Mars Mission - Al-Amal Probe in construction and testing

"We don't have a hundred years to sit around and grow organically. It's always been that way, developing in leaps and bounds," says Al-Amiri.

That culture of rapid growth has been hastened by a dwindling demand for oil.

"There is a drive to diversify," she says. "And the way to do that is use today's oil, which is knowledge and expertise that's routed in science and technology."

For Al-Amiri and mission manager, Omran Sharaf, seeing UAE's space sector blossom is a long-held passion. They were perhaps among the more fortunate, being able to study abroad. But they are back and among the country's pioneers.

Read more:Our first InSight into the interior of Mars

Al-Amir says she "never dared to dream of space, just for a lack of existing opportunities" at home, but she had started programming by the 5th Grade at school, studied computer engineering, and is now UAE's Minister of State for Advanced Sciences.

Meanwhile, Sharaf says he was always curious about satellites "I wished I could work on a space program." He studied electrical engineering in the US, came back to the UAE and joined a team of young Emiratis charged with setting up that space program. They started gathering experience in South Korea, working on Earth observation satellites, DubaiSat-1 and 2.

Why not the moon?

It's not only about getting to space. The mission is designed to establish the UAE's space capabilities to encourage homegrown innovation and inspire new generations of scientists, with job prospects and a sustainable future.

As such, it's reasonable to ask, "Why not go to the moon?" It is closer after all.

The answer lies in the science.

"We're not underestimating the moon it's difficult, too. Getting there is not easy," says Sharaf, in the same interview. "But Mars is the next level. When it comes to the scientific questions and the purpose of exploring Mars, we can build a better rationale behind it. It's a planet that scientists believe was once alive and became a dead planet. Understanding what happened there and why it lost its atmosphere will help us understand our own planet."

Mars is an active area of research that relies on data collected "at the planet," says Al-Amiri, rather than via telescopes and other forms of observation. So, she says, the EMM will deliver data that is actually needed by the global science community.

The team has collaborated with universities in the US and UK, and they have consulted the NASA-affiliated Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG).

Some roam, some drill The InSight lander collects seismic data by drilling into Martian ground

MEPAG is a gathering of experts that publishes scientific "vision papers," detailing scientific goals and questions that need to be answered about the planet.

Key scientific objectives for Hope

The Hope Probe aims to be the first to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. It will try to explain why or how Mars loses hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of a Martian year.

Significantly, Hope will explore Mars' "diurnal," or day-to-night cycle, which has never been done before.

Using three instruments an ultraviolet spectrometer, a digital camera and an infrared spectrometer, they will overlay images to create a picture from the lower to upper atmosphere. But Hope's orbit will be central to getting the data they want.

The EMIRS InfraRed Spectrometer one of three instruments onboard the Emirates Hope Probe that will orbit Mars

As Franois Forget, an astrophysicist at the Laboratoire de Mtorologie Dynamique in Paris, France, puts it: "The instruments are not revolutionary, but the orbit is completely new."

A new Martian orbit

"Mars rotates, like Earth, but in 24 hours and 38 minutes, and the spacecraft will have an elliptical orbit of about 20,000 kilometers at its lowest to 43,000 kilometers at the top," says Forget, who is also involved in the Emirates Mars Mission.

"When it's at 20,000 km, it will stay above the same [location on Mars], rotating with the planet for 8 hours and that will let us monitor what's going on throughout the day so, for instance, we'll see morning fog disappearing here, a storm start there," says Forget, " and then it will move up again, and when it's higher, the spacecraft moves slower, while the planet keeps rotating below it. When it returns to the lowest altitude, it will rotate with the planet again. So, we'll see what's happening over time."

Read more:NASA taps first woman to lead human spaceflight

With each swing of the orbit, Hope will track different locations from its lower and higher orbits. In the end, all the data will be stitched together to make a complete picture of those locations over a full 24-hour period, day and night. But it may take three orbits of a particular location to accumulate a full diurnal cycle, says Forget.

Weather patterns and dust storms

The data will be open to the scientific community, allowing it to be combined with other data, like seismic information collected by the InSight lander or other atmospheric data from the MAVEN probe.

Collaborators in space the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) probe is focused on the Martian upper atmosphere

There are so many questions to answer and no single mission can answer them all.

But, ultimately, scientists want to know how Mars became uninhabitable for humans, why its atmosphere wouldn't protect us like the atmosphere on Earth.

Mars' atmosphere is thin like Earth's, but it mostly consists of carbon dioxide (CO2), and there's only a small amount of oxygen and water vapor. So, finding out more about why that little oxygen which humans need to live and breathe escapes Mars is crucial to our understanding of the planet.

Read more:After Apollo: A new era for American human spaceflight

"MEPAG has set questions for the community, things we need to learn to understand Mars' evolution, and one of those things is historical atmospheric change," says Al-Amiri. "That's understanding the weather system, the day-to-night cycle, and the dynamics there what are the seasonal changes?"

Or why Mars gets global dust storms. "We get localized, regional dust storms. But Mars gets global dust storms. So, what factors allow a planet to be engulfed by a single dust storm," asks Al-Amiri.

What role does Mars play in its own atmospheric loss?

Then there's the specific question of why the planet is losing its atmosphere.

Scientists have looked at whether that's due to space itself for instance, that the atmosphere is being "stripped" by solar winds streams of charged particles that shoot out from the sun at speeds of up to 900 km per second.

The Emirates Mars Mission probe, Hope, spreads its solar panel wings

But some other theories suggest Mars may play its own role.

"There are dust storms, cloud formations, water vapor cycles, and we're asking how much impact that has on the loss of hydrogen and oxygen from Mars into its exosphere," says Al-Amiri.

The mission will do that by taking simultaneous measurements infrared technology in the lower atmosphere, where Hope will study temperatures and ice clouds, and ultraviolet technology for the Martian ozone in the lower atmosphere and hydrogen and oxygen loss in the upper atmosphere.

Finally, there's a simple camera that will enable Hope to take full "disc images" of the planet, which may reveal "interesting phenomena," says Forget.

"For example, a couple of years ago, we found these elongate clouds forming near the top of Olympus Mons [the largest volcano on Mars]. They went for 2,000 kilometers, and this had never been seen, because we were always looking at Mars in strips from the same local time," says Forget. "So, a full disc image can be spectacular, fun and scientific."

Mission to collaborate

Much has been made of the mission's launching from Japan. But the Japanese space agency, JAXA, points out that the mission is "UAE's independent program."

Japan has an overall good track-record for space launches a H-IIA rocket, similar to the one for the EMM, launched from Tanegashima Space Center

Even the launch on a Japanese H-IIArocketfrom JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center will be operated not by the agency but by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

But the Japanese connection is interesting to note because Japan has its own interests in Mars.

In an email to DW, JAXA's Nobuyoshi Fujimoto writes that Japan's MMX mission in 2024 will "survey Mars's two moons and collect a sample from one of them and bring it back."

There is also a good chance that data from the Emirates Mars Mission will flow into Japan's MMX moons mission.

"The Japanese have got fantastic capabilities, but they've never been to Mars," says Macdonald, "so, working as partners in the international community will give them more confidence for the next time they decide to go."

Read more:Why isn't Germany taking over the moon?

The EMM is all about international collaboration, which, Sharaf says, has been good with American teams at the University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State University, and University of California, Berkeley.

"Getting some of the knowledge for our mission was not easy and we had to think about how it could be done in a way that serves everyone our national interests, that of our partners, and humanity," says Sharaf. "So, this is a case study from which other nations can learn. For instance, how we collaborated in 2006 with Korea a very different mindset and system and in 2014 with the US."

Hope's high-gain antenna dish for communicating with MBRSC Mission Control on Earth

That collaborative spirit will possibly also seep into other areas of research as the UAE moves towards a "post-oil" economy.

"Our space program is a tool for other goals," says Sharaf. "It's linked to national challenges like food and water, and clean energy is an issue, but also economic opportunities. Those are the pillars that dictate our program. It's not just about getting to space. So, if asteroid mining or rocket fuel addressed one of those pillars, we would look into it."

Read more:Of 'white guys on the Moon' and black America

All that's left

The only question that's left for now is whether the UAE and its first Mars mission will succeed.

"Going to Mars is difficult, not a lot of people have successfully gone to Mars," says Macdonald. "The Americans, Europe, Russia and India have orbited it. But Russia's had a lot of failures trying to land on Mars, and the Japanese have failed before."

So, what are the UAE's chances?

"Well, the launch vehicle tends to be a fairly big stumbling block, but the Japanese have a good heritage there, so you'd expect the launch to work and for the spacecraft to get to Mars," Macdonald says. "And as long as it wakes up and gets onto its correct trajectory But you can't expect success, because space is difficult."

The new NASA Mars rover has arrived. It will support the currently operating Curiosity rover in its work on the red planet. The new rover weighs just over 1 tonne (2,000 lbs) and is therefore 100 kg heavier than its predecessor. And, at 3 meters in size, it is also 10 centimeters longer. It can load more research equipment and sensors, and its gripper arm with cameras and tools is also stronger.

This is what the rover looks like when it travels. On board a C-17 Globemaster, it traveled from California to Florida in the US. From there, it will set off to Mars on July 17. The new rover is able to collect samples from Mars. It is equipped with 23 cameras and many other instruments. Among other things, it aims to find out whether oxygen can be extracted from the Martian rocks.

Curiosity is the largest and most modern of all Mars rovers currently deployed. It landed on August 6, 2012 and has since traveled more than 21 kilometers. It is much more than just a rover. Its official name is "Mars Science Laboratory," and it really is a complete lab on wheels.

For example, it contains special spectrometer, which can analyze chemical compounds from a distance with the help of a laser; a complete meteorological station that can measure temperature, atmospheric pressure, radiation, humidity and wind speed; and most importantly, a chemistry lab that can run detailed analyses of organic compounds and is always on the hunt for traces of alien life.

Curiosity has shown that life would theoretically be possible on Mars. But it hasn't discovered any life, yet. The robot's arm is equipped with a full power drill. Here, it's taking a sample in "Yellowknife Bay" inside the Gale Crater.

The Mars dust is processed by a large number of instruments. First, it's filtered and separated into different-sized particles. Then, those get sorted and sent off to different analytical laboratory machines.

Curiosity's predecessors were much smaller. On July 4, 1997, the small Mars rover Sojourner left its first tire tracks behind in the dust of the red planet. It was the first time a mobile robot had been left to its own devices there, equipped with an X-ray spectrometer to conduct chemical analyses and with optical cameras.

Three rover generations. (The tiny one up front is Sojourner.) At 10.6 kilograms (23 pounds), it's not much bigger than a toy car. Its top speed: 1 centimeter per second. Opportunity weighs 185 kilograms roughly the equivalent of an electric wheelchair. Curiosity is as big as a small car, at 900 kilograms. The big ones travel up to 4 or 5 centimeters per second.

Sojourner travelled about 100 meters during its lifetime and delivered data and pictures until September 27, 1997. This is one of the last pictures of it, taken nine days before the radio connection broke down. Sojourner probably died because the battery did not survive the cold nights.

Without the experience of Sojourner, newer rovers could have hardly been envisaged. In 2004, NASA landed two robots of the same model on Mars: Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit survived for six years, travelling a distance of 7.7 kilometers. The robot climbed mountains, took soil samples and withstood winter and sandstorms. Its sibling, Opportunity, lost contact on February 13, 2019.

Opportunity passed the marathon distance of 42 kilometers back in 2015, and to this day, it has covered much more ground than Curiosity. It can take ground probes with its arm. It has three different spectrometers and even a 3D camera. It was last operating in "Perseverance Valley," an appropriate workplace for the sturdy robot, before being incapacitated by a sand storm.

This panorama was taken by Curiosity's mast camera. The most modern of the rovers will stay in service as long as possible hopefully at least another five years and much longer. The Martian landscape looks familiar somehow, not unlike some deserts here on Earth. Should we give in to our wanderlust, then or would it be better leave Mars to the robots?

Author: Fabian Schmidt

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What's the science on the Emirates Mars Mission? - DW (English)

Alien hunters spot carving on Martian warrior in cliffs of Mars – claim – Express.co.uk

UFO enthusiasts believe they have spotted a mountain carving - similar to that of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota - in the cliffs of Mars. The figure appears to be human-like with an elongated head, which some self proclaimed alien experts believe is the typical characteristics of a Martian. One alien hunter believes this is proof of life on Mars, and that intelligent aliens also hold high-standing members of civilisation in high regards.

Prominent conspiracy theorist Scott C Waring spotted the supposed statue in NASA images, and believes this is the elusive proof that intelligent life once existed on the Red Planet.

Mr Waring explained on his blog ET Database: "I found this figure in a hillside on Mars in the latest NASA rover photo.

"The figure could be male or female, because often on Earth ancient warrior chest armor of warriors often has an enhance chest area to make them look more muscular in battle and put fear into the enemy.

"The tall hat looks to be part of the armour and could be filled 30 percent with the person's head. Some aliens have an enlarged or elongated cranium compared to humans.

"It's placed on the side of a hill and reminds me of the time I lived near Mount Rushmore and saw the presidents faces on the side of the mountain.

"It's a typical thing to do for intelligent species, because being proud of certain individuals in your culture and carving them into stone makes them last forever. Their memory will last forever as we see her today."

However, sceptics and NASA would say the statues and other similar findings are just the effects of pareidolia a psychological phenomenon when the brain tricks the eyes into seeing familiar objects or shapes in patterns or textures such as a rock surface.

Another recent finding which supposedly supports the argument of life on Mars was that of a supposed statue of a Martian god.

READ MORE:Aliens in New York: UFO hunter shares bizarre Google Maps sighting

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Alien hunters spot carving on Martian warrior in cliffs of Mars - claim - Express.co.uk

Cosmic ‘Lighthouses’ to Help Space Travellers Find Ways to Moon, Mars – The Weather Channel

Artist illustration of a Pulsar

Just as lighthouses have helped sailors navigate safely into harbour for centuries, future space travellers may receive similar guidance from the steady signals created by pulsars.

Scientists and engineers are using the International Space Station to develop pulsar-based navigation using these cosmic lighthouses to assist with wayfinding on trips to the Moon under NASA's Artemis programme and on future human missions to Mars, the US space agency said on Wednesday.

Pulsars, or rapidly spinning neutron stars, are the extremely dense remains of stars that explode as supernovas. They emit X-ray photons in bright, narrow beams that sweep the sky like a lighthouse as the stars spin.

From a great distance, they appear to pulse, hence the name pulsars.

An X-ray telescope on the exterior of the space station, the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer or NICER, collects and timestamps the arrival of X-ray light from neutron stars across the sky.

Software embedded in NICER, called the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology or SEXTANT, is using the beacons from pulsars to create a GPS-like system.

This concept, often referred to as XNAV, could provide autonomous navigation throughout the solar system and beyond.

"GPS uses precisely synchronised signals. Pulsations from some neutron stars are very stable, some even as stable as terrestrial atomic clocks in the long term, which makes them potentially useful in a similar way," said Luke Winternitz, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The stability of the pulses allows highly accurate predictions of their time of arrival to any reference point in the solar system.

Scientists have developed detailed models that predict precisely when a pulse would arrive at, for example, the centre of Earth.

Timing the arrival of the pulse to a detector on a spacecraft, and comparing that to when it is predicted to arrive at a reference point, provides information for navigating far beyond our planet.

"Navigation information provided by pulsars does not degrade by moving away from Earth since pulsars are distributed throughout our Milky Way galaxy," said SEXTANT team member Munther Hassouneh, navigation technologist.

"It effectively turns the G' in GPS from Global to Galactic," added team member Jason Mitchell, Director of the Advanced Communications and Navigation Technology Division in NASA's Space Communication and Navigation Program.

"It could work anywhere in the solar system and even carry robotic or crewed systems beyond the solar system."

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Cosmic 'Lighthouses' to Help Space Travellers Find Ways to Moon, Mars - The Weather Channel

Scientist calculates 110 humans would be needed to start new civilization on Mars – New York Post

At least 110 humans would be needed to start a new civilization on Mars, a study has calculated.

That number would ensure enough tools and commodities could be produced before supplies run out.

Any human colony would have to set up home in an oxygen-filled dome and start their own agriculture and other industries.

The study assumes support from Earth has been cut off due to war, failing resources, or settlers declaring an independent republic.

In 2015s The Martian, Matt Damons character Mark Watney was stranded there.

But space expert Professor Jean-Marc Salotti estimates he could have set up a permanent home if he had 109 colleagues.

The scientist, at Frances Bordeaux Institut National Polytechnique, used a mathematical model to determine the feasibility of survival on another planet and being self-sustaining.

He said survival would depend on access to natural resources, work conditions and other assumptions.

Elon Musks SpaceX program hopes to one day colonize Mars, which is around 140 million miles away.

Prof Salotti added: This question is of particular importance for the future of space conquest and perhaps also for the future of humanity in general.

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Scientist calculates 110 humans would be needed to start new civilization on Mars - New York Post

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Took a Picture of Earth and Venus in the Mars Sky – Thrillist

The Mastcam is the same tool the rover has used to take stunning panoramaslike the incredibly high-resolution image of the Martian landscape it took late last year.

The goal of the image wasn't just to spot Earth but to get a look at the twilight brightness on Mars. It's spring in Mars' southern hemisphere where Curiosity is hanging about. "During this time of year on Mars, there's more dust in the air to reflect sunlight, making it particularly bright," said Mastcam co-investigator Mark Lemmon from the Space Science Institute.

Toward the bottom of the images, you can see the top of a rock formation called Tower Butte. Curiosity has been exploring this region for more than a year. This image should get people excited about NASA's next rover mission to Mars, Perseverance, which will land on the red planet in February 2021. It's currently scheduled to launch on July 20, 2020.

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NASA's Curiosity Rover Took a Picture of Earth and Venus in the Mars Sky - Thrillist

‘Leading in space’: NASA chief Bridenstine talks SpaceX, Mars and the first woman on the moon with Tulsa Regional Chamber – Tulsa World

America is getting excited about space again.

That was one of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstines chief takeaways from a recent phone call from movie star Tom Cruise.

He said he was interested in doing a movie on the International Space Station and wanted to talk about that, said the Tulsan, who takes it as another good sign that a renewed national emphasis on space exploration is inspiring people.

Bridenstine, a former U.S. congressman representing Tulsa who now heads the nations space agency, was the guest Tuesday for a virtual discussion hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

Fresh off the historic SpaceX launch and with NASAs sights set on both the moon and Mars Bridenstine said he couldnt be more excited to be leading the agency at this time in history.

We have a presidential administration right now that is putting space on steroids, he said. They really see this as part of American greatness. We need to do stunning achievements. The world needs to see it. The world needs to partner with us on these things.

Bridenstine added: Its hard to lead on earth if youre not leading in space. And I think thats as true today as it was in the 1960s. We havent had this much support for space activities since John F. Kennedy.

A collaboration between NASA and Elon Musks SpaceX firm, the spacecraft launch on May 30 carried two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, to the International Space Station.

The pair were the first astronauts the U.S. had launched into space in almost a decade since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.

Bridenstine said NASA is also moving forward with the Artemis program, the goal of which is to return to the moon by 2024, establish a sustainable presence there and let it pave the way for a mission to Mars.

Artemis, he added, will involve another milestone: the first woman to set foot on the moon.

We love the Apollo program. History loves the Apollo program, said Bridenstine. But in those days all of our astronauts came from a fighter pilot or test pilot background and there were no opportunities for women, and very few opportunities for underrepresented minorities.

This time, we have a very robust, very capable, very talented and very diverse astronaut corps.

The SpaceX launch marked the first time a commercial aerospace company carried humans into Earths orbit.

Bridenstine said private-sector partnerships will be the model for how space is explored in the future, and that SpaceX has demonstrated its potential.

Asked about Oklahomas possible future role in space exploration, Bridenstine highlighted the University of Oklahomas GeoCarb program, for which it was awarded a $161 million government contract.

OU has got the absolute best weather scientists, he said, adding that they are going to help NASA better understand the correlation between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and weather events.

He said, If the program is successful and we can get good science out of it, I think theres going to be a lot of missions that come after that at the University of Oklahoma, and then we build from there.

He added that the Choctaw Nation, which has a test range, is playing a role in urban air mobility.

I know it sounds like science fiction, he said of whats been described as a flying taxi service. But theres billions of dollars of investment going into that right now.

Speaking of Elon Musk, whose automobile company Tesla is reportedly looking at Tulsa as a possible site for a new factory, Bridenstine was asked if hed had a chance to plug Tulsa with the entrepreneur.

I have not personally pitched him on it, he said, adding that he has to be careful as the head of a government agency.

What Ill tell you is that certainly Elon Musk knows that Im from Tulsa. He knows that I love Tulsa and I live here by choice.

I think Tulsa would be a great selection, Bridenstine added.

The virtual audience on Tuesday included area school students, chamber officials said.

Bridenstine said he hoped that young people are motivated by all the exciting things happening.

If you go around the country and talk to the engineers and the scientists that work for us, who are of age, they will tell you exactly where they were when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, he said. Those are moments of inspiration that transform lives.

He said he hopes the SpaceX launch and upcoming Artemis mission can provide those moments for a new generation.

Heres this whole generation of young people that dont remember the last time we flew humans into space from American soil, he said.

But if all goes as planned, the next generation should have some inspiring memories all its own. Asked where the space program will be in 20 years, Bridenstine said:

There is a very real chance, depending on budgets and how they materialize, that we could have a crew on Mars, or maybe even coming home from Mars.

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'Leading in space': NASA chief Bridenstine talks SpaceX, Mars and the first woman on the moon with Tulsa Regional Chamber - Tulsa World

We need to send at least 110 people to Mars to build a civilisation, study finds – The Independent

Humanity would need to send at least 110 people to Mars to build a self-sustaining civilisation there, according to research.

A study has attempted to understand just how many people and resources would be required to settle elsewhere in the universe.

The paper, written by Jean-Marc Salotti from the Bordeaux Institut National Polytechnique, attempted to solve the question using mathematical modelling. It tried to find out both the minimum number of people that would have to live on the planet as well as the way of life they would have to pursue if their life there was to be self-sustaining.

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He found that 110 would be the minimum number of individuals required, although having more people would change the calculations.

He also noted that the success of those people would depend on a range of factors, including how well they would be able to work together and share their time and resources.

Professor Salotti noted that the question was largely theoretical at the moment, but could have considerable effects for the future of humanity. Life on Earth could one day be threatened by some cataclysmic event, he noted, and it would be possible that the only way humanity would survive would be to head to Mars or some other planet.

Some companies, including SpaceX, have attempted to build ways to ensure this could happen, with rockets made to carry people on the long journey to Mars. But any attempt to do so will inevitably be limited in the number of people that it can take, which Prof Salotti noted will lead people to make important calculations about the minimum number of people that could survive there and create enough resources and tools to allow their life to become self-sustaining.

The research attempted to understand the work the people would have to do to make that possible, and how much time they would have to do that work. The number of 110 people is the minimum number who would be able to do that work, Prof Salotti found.

The study Minimum Number of Settlers for Survival on Another Planet is published in Scientific Reports this week.

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We need to send at least 110 people to Mars to build a civilisation, study finds - The Independent

Elon Musk Loves Mars so Much That He Called it His Souldog – News18

SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks at a post-launch press conference after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (Image: Reuters)

Seoul: Multi-billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk on Sunday took to the Twitter to describe his relationship with Mars by calling the red planet his souldog.

"Mars is my souldog," Musk said in tweet.

Responding to Musk, a user tweeted, "Elon is from Mars. The Galactic Federation has no say. They agree with his awakening tactics."

"Why Mars? There's plenty of planets out there," mentioned another user.

Another user posted to him, "YOU are my souldog I don't even care how many other people have said this already."

Meanwhile, Musk is building floating spaceports at least 35 kms from the coastline and would be used for launching starship rockets to the Moon, mars and even hypersonic travel around Earth.

The floating spaceports would be accessed via tunnels dug under the water and Musk-owned The Boring Company would construct those.

Musk had earlier tweeted that most Starship spaceports will probably need to be around 35 kms offshore for "acceptable noise levels".

SpaceX is currently hiring "offshore operations engineers" to help develop floating spaceports for Starship.

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Elon Musk Loves Mars so Much That He Called it His Souldog - News18

Mars Wrigley and Sankalp Beautiful World join hands with Sourav Ganguly Foundation to salute the COVID Warriors – IBG NEWS

Mars Wrigley and Sankalp Beautiful World join hands with Sourav Ganguly Foundation to salute the Covid Warriors

Kolkata, 20th June 2020: Mars Wrigley recently joined hands with Sourav Ganguly Foundation, Sankalp Beautiful World and A Satadru Dutta Initiative to express gratitude to doctors, health care providers and caregivers during the pandemic.

Health care workers have been on the frontline of the current crisis to ensure safety and wellbeing of others. In an effort to appreciate and acknowledge their relentless spirit and hard work, Sourav Ganguly, President of BCCI, handed over a token of gratitude including Mars Wrigley products such as SNICKERS, GALAXY, BOUNTY, TWIX and M&MS to Dr Saptarshi Basu, Dr Sanjoy Holme Choudhury and Dr Shovon Das from the West Bengal Doctors Forum. Other heroes who were lauded included Briti Kar and Rudranil Raha, who fed 100 people daily throughout the lockdown, Rupa Das, a social worker, Rabi Mukherjee who has been actively involved in sanitization during the lockdown and Sree Basu. Chocolates were also distributed to the entire COVID department of Medica Super Specialty Hospital.

At Mars Wrigley, the purpose is to create beautiful moments to make the world smile. This small gesture to the everyday heroes was a collective way to say, Thank You.

About MARS Wrigley:

Mars is a family-owned business with more than a century of history-making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love. With almost $35 billion in sales, the company is a global business that produces some of the worlds best-loved brands: M&Ms, SNICKERS, TWIX, MILKY WAY, DOVE, PEDIGREE, ROYAL CANIN, WHISKAS, EXTRA, ORBIT, 5, SKITTLES, UNCLE BENS, MARS DRINKS and COCOAVIA. Mars also provides veterinary health services that include BANFIELD Pet Hospitals, Blue Pearl, VCA and Pet Partners. Headquartered in McLean, VA, Mars operates in more than 80 countries. The Mars Five Principles Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom inspire its more than 100,000 Associates to create value for all its partners and deliver growth they are proud of every day.

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Mars Wrigley and Sankalp Beautiful World join hands with Sourav Ganguly Foundation to salute the COVID Warriors - IBG NEWS