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Mars -The Red Planet

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MISSION TO MARS
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Let’s go to Mars. But before going, we need to know some facts about Mars.

Measuring nearly half the diameter of the Earth, Mars, the red planet is the 7th largest in the solar system and the fourth from the sun, and the second smallest one too! Consisting of a thin atmosphere, surface consisting of valleys, cracks formed by strong impacts and desserts. Orbited by two moons and comprises of a rust-colored surface, this planet is a mystery unknown to many civilizations. Mars is a mysterious planet because we still don’t know much about it. Mars only has 37 percent gravity compared to Earth. A Martian day is 24.6 Earth hours long which makes one solar day for the planet. Mars was named after the Roman god of war due to its bloody red appearance and it was often associated with an omen in the night sky. Moreover, many other civilizations associated names with this planet due to its rusty manifestation the Egyptians called it “Her Desher” and the Chinese cosmologists called it “the fire planet”.

MARS, RED PLANET

Formation         

Mars came into existence 4.5 billion years ago and has been in its current layout to date. Scientists suggest that when the strong gravitational pulled gasses and dust towards itself presumably after the big bang or when the universe was forming.  

Weather On Mars And Its Physical Appearance

Since Mars is the 4th planet from the sun this fact largely contributes to its cold climate. On average, Mars has a temperature of -60 Celsius every day and the temperature decreases nearer to the polar caps. Since Mars’s axis on which it rotates changes more often than Earth’s, it faces frequent climate changes. Unlike Earth’s atmosphere which is rich in oxygen, the planet Mars has an atmosphere dense in carbon dioxide. However, the atmosphere’s density may vary according to the time of the year. For instance, during the winter season, the carbon dioxide freezes the air on Mars thus varying the density of air. Moreover, Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field due to which water molecules escaped from its atmosphere. According to scientists, millions of years ago, maybe there was water on the surface, but not anymore because it escaped due to no barrier to retain it. Mar’s extreme weather conditions are caused by snow clouds of carbon dioxide also causing watery-ice like snowfall. This characteristic makes Mars an unusual planet. Mars Express has recently found an icy zone in Korolev Crater which might be reminiscent of a large lake. When dust storms season strikes the red planet, it is unparallel to any other in the entire universe! If we talk about the physical characteristics of Mars, they really are distinct! The iron-rich minerals present in the rocks and the dust which cover its surface. As these iron minerals come in contact with the Martian air, they oxidize causing a rusted like appearance. The surface of Mars has many deep valleys and highest mountains. The Olympus Mons is about three times the size of Mouth Everest. Valleys Marineris, which is basically a system of valleys discovered by a mariner 9 probe is 10 kilometers deep and is as wide as our Earth’s continent Australia! As the crust got rifted and stretched over time, the valley deepened and widened. A single canyon in the valley measures 10 kilometers merging at the center of Valles Marineris. Sediment channels along the sides of the canyons suggest the presence of water back in time. One of the largest volcanoes measuring 600 kilometers in width can wholly cover the Mexican state. Minor eruptions keep occurring on the surface of this red planet and due to continues lava flowing which hardened with time, sloped have been formed on the mountain’s terrains. Scientists believe that liquid water might be found under rocks and deep in the cracks along channels. If you are wondering about how the water tastes, well scientists suggest it might be salty below the mineral iron surface which could be of help in growing microbial life. The surface of Mars has many flat plains; this is due to the water that once existed there. The hemisphere towards the north is comparatively lower to that in the south. This also suggests that right after the birth of Mars, a great change took place which altered the surface of the two hemispheres. The Southern hemisphere is older and thus has a large number of craters. The largest of them all, Hellas Planitia measures as wide as 2,300 kilometers. A few volcanoes also house craters, some of which contain mudflow like debris and others by solidified lava. 

WEATHER ON MARS

Below The Surface! 

SEISMIC WAVE, COURTESY NASA

It consists of the crust, mantle, and core. The thickness cannot be exactly measured but can be predicted by estimating the depth of Valles Marineris. This valley’s depth gives scientists an idea that the crust might be thicker than that of Earth’s. The core mainly composed of iron measures 300 kilometers in width, however, scientists still aren’t sure about how solid the core is but there is also a possibility that the core is somewhat of liquid consistency. The presence of magnetic rocks on the surface of Mars does support this possibility.

Polar Caps

The two poles of Mars have enormous deposits of water ice stacks. These thin layers were mainly formed over time by ice storm deposits. Atop these layers are solid ice caps which stay frozen throughout the year. Seasonal caps appear only during the winters giving these caps a frosty appearance, however, in reality, its dry ice which consists of carbon dioxide in condensed form. 

ICE IN MARS

Chemical Composition

The core of this red planet is made out of sulfur, iron, and nickel. According to scientists, the mantle of our Earth and the core of Mars have a similar composition consisting of magnesium, oxygen, iron, and silicon. The crust of this planet is composed of basalt and volcanic rocks. 

CORE OF MARS

Cosmic Companions

Orbiting the red planet are two unevenly shaped moons Deimos and Phobos. The probability of how they came into existence is not accurate but scientists suggest that they were formed among asteroids in the belt and then Mars’s gravity captured them. Another suggestion is that they were formed over time as the dust from the debris on Mars which flung overtime after a large collision. Deimos is the larger of the two and the cycle for one moon lasts 30 days. Phobos has a scarred surface featuring craters and grooves. With each passing century, the gravity of Mars pulls Phobos five feet closer so, in about fifty million years, this moon is likely to crash in Mars and maybe even break it to bits. 

MARS

The Orbit And Rotation

Mar’s orbit has the second-largest eccentricity after Mercury; the orbit is oblong and not circular like most planets. Mars’s unusual orbit, however, hasn’t always been like this. Scientists suggest this unusual orbit is due to the gravitational pull of other planets that have impacted Mars. Every planet’s year is shorter than that of the Earth’s excluding Mars’s which is another reason for its eccentricity. One Mars year makes 668 days on Earth. One Martian day, however, lasts 24 hours and 40 minutes which is almost equal to a day which the Earth takes to make a rotation around the sun. Earth and Mars tilt almost the same degrees on the axis and this is one main reason why the climate is almost the same on both planets. Both planets have summers springs, winters and sandstorms too! The only difference lies at the hemispheres where mar’s hemisphere have deathly and freezing cold weather unfamiliar to that on Earth’s hemispheres. 

Unsuccessful Mission To Mars

Reaching Mars is no easy task. In the conquest to explore its surface, NASA, China, Russia, and Japan have all been trying vigorously to make better spacecraft for the red planet’s expedition. However, many countries that have launched the Mars mission in the past have also lost a lot of money and spacecraft. These include:

· Mars Observer by NASA (1992)

· Beagle 2 Lander By ESA (2003)

· Mars Climate Orbiter by NASA, Japan’s Nozomi (1998)

· Fobus-Grunt mission by Russia alongside China’s Yinghuo-1 orbiter. This mission was to Phobos and took place in 2011.

· Mars 96 by Russia (1996)

· Schiaparelli test Lander by ESA (2016)

Could Humans Live on Mars?

The red planet could offer brand new horizons for life. But the question is how to overcome all the obstacles on Mars. The obstacles which humans could face are as follows:

Trouble Landing

At present, NASA can land only one ton of vehicle on the surface of Mars. However, if w want humans to land on Mars NASA would need 10 tons of vehicles, a parking space and also take measures before the landing as it needs to be a smooth one, it should not be landing on a mountain or a valley!

We Would Need A Two Way Ticket

NASA is still finding a way in which they could bring back or blast back the vehicle that would land. That’s the concept on which Mars 2020 Rover is made.

We Would Have To Wear A Spacesuit 24/7

Due to extreme climate changes on Mars, we would need a spacesuit all the time. The average temperature is below zero and the air is also largely composed of carbon dioxide which would make breathing a lot more difficult. 

Dust Storms Would Be A Ritual

Living on Mars means frequent dust storms. Dust storms can last for months and make a bright day dark. Since Mars has summers after every 26 months, the sand storms are also longer and unlike those on Earth.

The Apollo Program And Its Relation To Mars

The man walked the moon for the very first time on the Apollo mission. It is to this day still considered one of the most marvelous feats that humans have ever achieved. This mission paved the way for other space missions. Many people don’t realize this but Apollo mission wasn’t a one-off try. NASA had to try again and again before succeeding in 1969. It is human nature to always want more. When humans realized that they can reach the Moon, they wanted to take the next step in space exploration. Since the moon landing, scientists have made Mars the proposed destination for their next manned mission to a large planetary body.

Can We Use The Same Type Of Spacecrafts For A Manned Mars Mission As We Did For The Moon

Apollo Command Module was very well designed. NASA’s engineers and scientists developed it in the best way possible. It could house three astronauts and the room for astronauts was spacious as a car. The other part of the spacecraft was the Lunar Module. This is the part that landed on the surface of the Moon. This is the part that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Another equipment to facilitate a successful landing was tow rockets. One, Saturn I (1) Brocket which was 22-story building tall, it had two parts which carried fuel. In case one emptied, it was dropped onto the Earth’s atmosphere which surrounds the surface. This was done so that the Apollo Capsule could be tested in the Earth’s Orbit. Saturn V rocket was 36-story building tall and contained 3 fuel parts and was successful in sending the Apollo Spacecraft on the moon’s surface. As you can see the technology used for manned Moon mission was way ahead of its time. These days, NASA has access to modern and updated technology. The technology of the current world is far superior to the technology in the late 1960s however the technique and mechanism of the technology can be the same as the 1960s. If scientists ever plan to make manned Mars mission a reality, they can use the same technique and same type of spacecraft and other technology that they used in the Manned Moon mission. However, they will have to give it a modern touch to make the process more efficient. If man could reach the moon with 1960s tech then they can do a lot more with the technology available today.

The Mars 2020 Rover

Following the Apollo Mission, NASA planned a Mars landing after a successful moon landing in the year 2020. NASA representatives state the engineering is almost over, the carousal which is meant to collect the tools for testing samples on Mars is all set, the wheels, scientific instruments as well as the mast are all set and ready to go. NASA plans on launch this mission any day between the 17th of July to the 5th of August! To make the mission a success the rover’s testing is ongoing until it is launched. NASA plans to land Mars 2020 Rover on a crater name Jezero where it will collect samples. So basically there are two missions. Firstly, a rocket named the Mars Ascent Vehicle is to land alongside a spacecraft and put the rover in the crater for it to collect the relevant information. Once this is done, the samples would be rendezvoused with the second mission and brought back to the Earth.

Is There Life on Mars?

That’s perhaps that one question everyone is the most interested in knowing, can the planet harbor life? Or perhaps was there life on Mars ever? As we know, Earth is the only planet with an adequate atmosphere and soil for life to survive, however many a times people have been tricked that there might be life on the red planet. Spacecrafts which have been orbiting Mars have found some evidence that there might have been life on Mars. The discovery of ice caps that might have been snowy mountains, flat surfaces which might have been covered by lakes and oceans shows evidence that it might have catered to live. In 1984 scientists came across a meteorite weight 1.9 kilograms in Antarctica which is a chip which seems to have blasted from Mars’s surface. That meteorite seems to have rod-shaped structures like a biological process has taken place which is evidence that there might have been life once on Mars. There is also evidence that Mars had enough water once with a thick atmosphere. Moreover, scientists are still looking for the right place to find life on Mars, where the traces are the strongest

Midnight On Mars

Recently, mar’s magnetic field has been associated with a certain kind of pulse. Discovered by InSight Lander, NASA’s geophysicist robot has been collecting valuable information so that more can be learned about this mysterious planet. Alien quakes, the strength of the magnetic field and the crusts’ temperature all are being recorded and analyzed. Scientists are suspecting Mar’s gravitational pull much stronger than they were actually expecting. The Lander has picked on magnetic pulses which are pretty odd. Furthermore, a layer which is electrically conductive measuring 2.5 miles in thickness may be a reservoir of water lying right beneath the Martian surface. At midnight, the magnetic field recorded by Insight’s magnetometer was twenty times stronger than the Earth’s. At first, scientists thought that this magnetic field might be coming from a rock which is nearby but they couldn’t say where it exactly was. This surely gave scientists food for thought that maybe the magnetic field has been there much longer than they think. 

More water

Below the Martian surface, magnetic signals can be registered from underneath the layers, and scientists think, the depth these signals are coming from might be 62 miles deep below the surface. InSight’s magnetometer which identified a layer of an aquifer which could be of dissolved layers of ice and water could be wide enough to cover the entire red planet; however, there isn’t a surety yet. Scientists also say that as you go deeper in the surfaces of the red planet, it tends to get warmer which might justify the idea that the liquid water aquifers do exist.  

Some Interesting Facts About Mars!

Frozen Waters

Even today Mars has frozen ice caps, this is an interesting fact because it leads to another trail of thought that life might have existed. Since Mars does have summers too, do the ice caps melt, and make a sustainable environment for microbes?

Mars Has Two Moons

MARS MOON

Phobos and Deimos a similar composition as those of asteroids, scientists believe that once mar’s gravity was so strong, it pulled the two moons towards it. Phobos is considered to have a shorter life because it is being pulled closer to the Martian surface each year and one day it will crash to the surface causing it to blast into pieces. 

The Earth Has Bits of Mars too!

Just like other planets, Mars has also been hit by asteroids. Some debris stayed on its surface and others remained suspended in the solar system and some came to the Earth. They have been examined and trapped gasses have been identified in some meteorites. 

Martian Air Can Kill You

MARS AIR

The Marian air is very cold and the temperatures can normally fall below zero. Moreover, the air is composed of 95 percent carbon dioxide and other elements making the atmosphere incompatible for human breathing. 

Successful Mission To Mars

The 39 missions including rovers, spacecraft, and Landers only 16 have been successful in reaching Mars. The Exobiology on Mars program is meant to find the signs of any living organisms on the red planet. It will identify the hazards, terrain and the exact atmosphere changes which could be adapted to make a manned mission to Mars. 

A Methane Atmosphere

We know from the Earth and scientific researches that methane is a sign of some biological activity. There is methane in the Martian atmosphere though we really can’t say where it came from and why it is fluctuating. 

Mars Houses The Tallest Mountain In The Entire Solar System 

Olympus Mons is the tallest volcanic mountain which measures 21 kilometers! That’s even taller to our very own Mount Everest! 

The Sun Looks Really Small From Mars!

Looks only half the size from what it looks like from Earth. However, whenever Mars orbits closer to the sun, the summer seasons can feel blazing hot!

We Actually Thought The Moon and Mars Are Alike

When NASA probes orbited space, they spotted craters similar to that on the moon’s surface. This is why they thought these two were most probably twin planets, however as Mariner 9 explored the Martian surface, we came to know it’s a different terrain altogether! 

Mars Is Very Eccentric 

Mars’s orbit is the most unorganized, this means it does revolve on its access but its orbit is not completely circular like our Earth’s.

Human Living On MARS

Mars has a completely different environment unknown to humans, intensely cold weather with an unbreathable atmosphere and extreme radiation it could really do damage to us. If we want to explore the galaxy and find an alternate home, then we will need to understand more about other planets out there. So even though it might be a challenge living on Mars colonizing it, it is our only possible last resort after Earth where life might be possible.  

Why Should We Go To Mars

We are chossing Mars. Let’s face it; humanity wants to go, Mars, because the violent climate changes are indicating a number of natural catastrophes on the way. For one, there’s the nature of discovery, setting foot on a new planet and searching a new horizon, crossing the next great border – like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did in the late 60s. It is believed that the Earth would die out someday. Some billion years from now, our Earth will not be what it is today. It might not even be as habitable as it is now. This is why it is crucial for humans to have a backup home in case something disastrous happens to Earth. In addition to that, we can also look for resources on the red planet once our planet runs out of an important resource.

The Best Alternative To Earth

There might be a lot of radiation on Mars but it is still considered the best alternative to Earth. There are specific underground cave systems on Mars that can be an ideal location for residents. You can also extract certain important material from the surface of Mars like regolith. Regolith can be used to make concrete which can be very useful in creating the first building block of Mars colony.

MARS Colony

When it comes to building a colony on Mars, Elon Musk is at the front of the line. He wants to start a colony on Mar with around 80000 volunteers. Mars is actually one of the best choices to build a colony as it possesses some significant qualities that a habitable planet should have. Mars is beautiful and maybe agriculture and farming could make it even better if the soil is fertile. It is a great place with great seasonal wind speeds, clouds, and outdated riverbeds.

Why Should Humans Avoid Going To Mars

If humans could live without oxygen then Mars could have been the best planet for them to live on after Earth. Otherwise, it’s extremely tough to sustain. It’s not much more liveable than the cold vacuity of space. There is no oxygen on Mars so you might like the view and the red mountains but you once you land in mars, you will not be able to enjoy the view for long as the lack of oxygen will make you faint. The temperature in Mars is really cold with literally no air pressure and of course, there’s the endless radiation running from space with no natural shield to stop the harmful raises. In addition to that, the soil on Mars is very toxic. One of the most important problems that residents might face would be access to things like medical supplies or even spare parts for the machines. Life on Mars would be full of such deadly problems. We will have to rely on our Earth technology to stay alive on Mars for the first few centuries and maybe after a few years man will evolve to live on Mars freely.

Manned Mars Mission

A human mission to Mars had never been taken seriously since the 19th century, people have always taken it as a scientific narration, a space engineering mission and sending colonies and terraforming the red planet has always been on the minds of many scientists. Maybe one-day humans could arrive on Mars but for right now, there are only rovers sent to take samples and investigate how suitable the Mars climate actually is and could we possibly colonize it one day? Maybe our present generation babies could one day visit the red planet but this thinking needs a whole lot of processing and precision. We would need infrastructure machinery and a lot many facilities not only to survive there but since the distance from the Mars to the moon is going to be a long journey, we also need to take safety travel precautions. 

Travel To MARS

Every trip to mars will take a little above 2 years to complete. Scientists are continuously researching to find ways to reach Mars by spending the lowest amount of energy. In addition to spending less energy, scientists want to reach Mars in the least time possible. However, what is unfortunate is that if you want to reach Mars quicker than you will have to spend a large amount of energy. So a mechanism where there is a balance between the speed and energy would be ideal. Nowadays the topic of discussion is if it feasible to live in Mars in the future because scientists will determine that Mars has qualities and physical characteristics like climate and the layers similar to our planets so it is very much possible to find new kind of life that will expand our horizon, but for that we will have to improve our technology. The primary advantage of a manned mission to Mars would be the amount of knowledge we would gain as a result. We have tourists already doing science and do research on Mars’ surface but the amount they can do is reduced.

Why Have Scientists Chosen MARS For Colonization

A few decades back if people talked about colonizing Mars then society would have frowned upon them. Even though humans reached the Moon in 1969, reaching Mars was still considered as an unachievable task. In this modern age where technology dominates our daily lives, it is said that we know more about the space than we know about the depth of our oceans. However, with all the technology available to us, shifting the human race to a new planet still looks a far fetched idea. People like Elon Musk are very optimistic about it and believe it can happen in our lifetime. He believes that moving to Mars will not only be good for scientific research but that it will save the human race from extinction. Many scientists believe that with so many countries possessing a nuclear weapon, a nuclear war may wipe out our planet. In such a scenario we need a back up home where the human race can flourish.

After the Earth, Mars is the most livable planet in our solar system due to some reasons:

  • Its soil contains water to isolate.
  • It is not too cold or too hot weather.
  • There is abundant sunlight to use solar panels
  • Gravity on Mars is 38% that is similar to our Earth’s gravity. 
  • It has an atmosphere that offers security from outer space and the Sun’s radiation
  • The day and night pulse is very similar to Earth. A Mars day is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds.

Future On MARS

A new study shows how humans could possibly colonize Mars and create a self-supporting research base that could help manned missions for several years. Scientists at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EPFL) came up with a multi-step plan, which requires sending a robot to the Red Planet to build the base, using the planet’s natural sources to maintain it, and sending a team to its surface. The researchers recommend setting up a base at the north pole of Mars due to the natural resources in that region.

NASA Will Launch 2 Rockets To Test A MARS Fall

NASA has set a competition asking different teams to participate and submit 3-D printed habitats that they think can be used in the future to colonize the red planet. The research base would consist of three different components, according to scientists, and is termed as a “minimal living space.”A ceiling made of polyethylene fiber and a three-meter heavy layer of ice would cover the structure, giving it the form of an igloo.

NASA’S $1 Million Carbon Dioxide Challenge For Martians

If humans ever want to establish a colony on Mars then one thing that should be kept in mind that we cannot bring everything from Earth. We have to be very creative and use Mars to our advantage. There has been a lot of continuous research on Mars and new and updated information is added to the database on a regular basis. Scientists are coming up with ways to use Mars to our advantage. They believe that in order to create a successful colony on Mars, we should first know how to adapt to the atmosphere there and then use that atmosphere to our advantage. This is why NASA and other affiliated organizations and researchers are carrying out the competition for converting carbon dioxide into sugar. The atmosphere of Mars has a massive quantity of carbon dioxide. So if scientists can use that to our advantage then this would be a great step forward for the human race. The monetary price has motivated a lot of people to work hard and vigorously to try and come up with efficient ways to turn Carbon Dioxide into sugar. It should be noted that just converting the gas into sugar isn’t everything. You have to come up with an efficient mechanism that can be used on Mars.

Transfer Of Goods From Earth To Mars

Researchers predict a crane system that would orbit the Red Planet to serve as a transfer point for goods between space shuttle coming up from Earth. However, before sending any humans to Mars, for safety precautions, a robot aircrew would be developed and it would set the base and test all the available natural resources safe for humans. The researchers think that the poles would be the most expected place to build up a base, as hints of life are most probable to be found due to ice that could turn into water and dust. 

Myths About Mars

Mar’s face looks like a human’s. When NASA’S Viking 1 spacecraft took photos of Mars they looked a lot like human face however later it was discovered that it was merely the impact of shadows which were giving the planet a false façade. 

Mars Appears As A Big Moon

Another myth which circulated during the year 2003, mar’s orbit did bring the red planet up close to the Earth however it looked nothing like the moon. In fact, it only looked brighter and larger than the usual. Mars is far away from the Earth and to ever look as big as the moon, it will have to get in the moon’s orbit which isn’t likely to happen till we live!

Intelligent Beings On Mars?

While there might be a possibility of life on the red planet but the curiosity rover hasn’t found any traces yet. Yes, we could expect tiny microbe but full beings that are more intelligent to humans don’t look possible. There is no extraterrestrial life on the planet yet. 

Oceans on Mars

Dark areas on Mars were associated with oceans on the surface, however, this wasn’t true. But this isn’t totally a myth too as probes today who identify deep valleys and ice caps on the poles could be some proof that maybe oceans did exist a long time back, maybe when, Mars was born. 

Conclusion

Mar’s is a mystery till today, scientists have been trying to discover the possibility of life on the red planet, maybe in time, they might be able to collect enough data to get to know more about the planet. Maybe one day we might be buying a ticket to Mars, who knows!

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