mars-global-surveyor

So, what are we REALLY doing about Mars?

So, what are we REALLY doing about Mars?

Did you go on a Mars Adventure yet?

The first spacecraft from Earth to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Since then, several robotic spacecraft have flown by, orbited, or landed on Mars and sent back lots of information about this world so different from our own.

Mars is a cold, bleak wasteland, with very thin air that we Earthlings could never breathe. However, many of the pictures our telescopes, orbiters, and rovers have sent back show signs that liquid water might have been on the surface of Mars long ago. Also, we can see ice caps at the north and south poles.

Mars

This picture of Mars was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Notice the ice clouds.

Mars Global Surveyor

Mars Global Surveyor gathered Mars data for nine years.

All these signs of water are very exciting. Why? Because on Earth, almost everywhere there is water, there is life. Whether the water is boiling hot or frozen, some sort of creature seems to thrive in it. Is it the same on other planets? If water once flowed on Mars, did life once thrive there too? Or, maybe there is still water on Mars, only it has gone underground. Could there be tiny life forms, like bacteria, on Mars even now?

NASA's Mars Exploration Program is about "Following the Water." Even if we do not find life on Mars, if there is water, perhaps someday Mars could be inhabited by us!

NASA's four goals in exploring Mars:

  • Find out whether life ever existed on Mars.
    Mars fossils?

    NASA scientists will look for water, places where living things might use heat energy from under ground, signs of carbon, which is an element needed for klife as we know it. A few scientists think the Mars meteorite in this picture shows signs that tiny life forms might have existed on Mars.

  • Learn about the climate on Mars.
    Dust storm on Mars

    Scientists who study the Martian climate will study the melting and freezing of the polar ice caps and the many dust storms on Mars, like the one in this image.

  • Learn about the geology on Mars.
    Olympus Mons volcano on Mars

    Geologists will study Martian rocks, volcanoes (like Olympus Mons, shown in this image, the largest volcano in the solar system!), craters, valleys, ridges, cracks, crannies, and other land formations to try to figure out how they were formed.

  • Prepare for humans to go to Mars!
    Artist idea of a human settlement on Mars

    NASA will develop technologies, perhaps like some shown in this painting, to help humans survive the harsh Martian environment.

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