Mars : Our Future home

Today I am very excited to learn about Red Planet or Mars or Mangal. There are various similarities between Mars and Earth which makes it more suitable for life than other planets. As we know, in upcoming years Earth can not be able to support life anymore, due to our activities, Pollution, Climate Change, Increasing Population, Solar Storms, Asteroid etc. Hence we have to search our new home, which may be Mars. Let us analysis about Mars.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. Named after the Roman god of war, and often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide.

Mars Planet Profile

Mass: 641,693,000,000,000 billion kg (0.107 x Earth)
Equatorial Diameter: 6,805
Polar Diameter: 6,755
Equatorial Circumference: 21,297 km
Known Moons: 2
Notable Moons: Phobos & Deimos
Orbit Distance: 227,943,824 km (1.38 AU)
Orbit Period: 686.98 Earth days (1.88 Earth years)
Surface Temperature: -87 to -5 °C
First Record: 2nd millennium BC
Recorded By: Egyptian astronomers

Pictures of Mars

Photos of Mars from the surface, orbit and flybys

Mars Surface
Mars Orbit

Facts about Mars

Mars and Earth have approximately the same landmass:
Even though Mars has only 15% of the Earth’s volume and just over 10% of the Earth’s mass, around two thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. Martian surface gravity is only 37% of the Earth’s (meaning you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars).

Mars is home to the tallest mountain in the solar system.
Olympus Mons, a shield volcano, is 21km high and 600km in diameter. Despite having formed over billions of years, evidence from volcanic lava flows is so recent many scientists believe it could still be active.

Only 18 missions to Mars have been successful
As of September 2014 there have been 40 missions to Mars, including orbiters, landers and rovers but not counting flybys. The most recent arrivals include the Mars Curiosity mission in 2012, the MAVEN mission, which arrived on September 22, 2014, followed by the Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter, which arrived on September 24, 2014. The next missions to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, comprising an orbiter, lander, and a rover, followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, slated for launch in March 2016 and a planned arrival in September, 2016.”

Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system:
They can last for months and cover the entire planet. The seasons are extreme because its elliptical (oval-shaped) orbital path around the Sun is more elongated than most other planets in the solar system.

On Mars the Sun appears about half the size as it does on Earth:
At the closest point to the Sun, the Martian southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun, causing a short, intensely hot summer, while the northern hemisphere endures a brief, cold winter: at its farthest point from the Sun, the Martian northern hemisphere leans towards the Sun, causing a long, mild summer, while the southern hemisphere endures a lengthy, cold winter.

Pieces of Mars have fallen to Earth:
Scientists have found tiny traces of Martian atmosphere within meteorites violently ejected from Mars, then orbiting the solar system amongst galactic debris for millions of years, before crash landing on Earth. This allowed scientists to begin studying Mars prior to launching space missions.

Mars takes its name from the Roman god of war:
The ancient Greeks called the planet Ares, after their god of war; the Romans then did likewise, associating the planet’s blood-red colour with Mars, their own god of war. Interestingly, other ancient cultures also focused on colour – to China’s astronomers it was ‘the fire star’, whilst Egyptian priests called on ‘Her Desher’, or ‘the red one’. The red colour Mars is known for is due to the rock and dust covering its surface being rich in iron.

Water on Mars?
Scientists believe that 3.5 billion years ago, Mars experienced the largest known floods in the solar system. This water may even have pooled into lakes or shallow oceans. But where did the ancient floodwater come from, how long did it last, and where did it go?

At present, Mars is too cold and its atmosphere is too thin to allow liquid water to exist at the surface for long. There's water ice close to the surface and more water frozen in the polar ice caps, but the quantity of water required to carve Mars's great channels and flood plains is not evident on—or near—the surface today. Images from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft suggest that underground reserves of water may break through the surface as springs. The answers may lie deep beneath Mars's red soil.

Unraveling the story of water on Mars is important to unlocking its past climate history, which will help us understand the evolution of all planets, including our own. Water is also believed to be a central ingredient for the initiation of life; the evidence of past or present water on Mars is expected to hold clues about past or present life on Mars, as well as the potential for life elsewhere in the universe. And, before humans can safely go to Mars, we need to know much more about the planet's environment, including the availability of resources such as water.

Mountains, Moons, and More
Mars has some remarkable geological characteristics, including the largest volcanic mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons; volcanoes in the northern Tharsis region that are so huge they deform the planet's roundness; and a gigantic equatorial rift valley, the Valles Marineris. This canyon system stretches a distance equivalent to the distance from New York to Los Angeles; Arizona's Grand Canyon could easily fit into one of the side canyons of this great chasm.
Mars also has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos. Although no one knows how they formed.

Mars has frozen water today.
We’re very interested in the question of water because it implies habitability; simply put, life as we know it is more likely to exist with water there. In fact, the Curiosity rover’s mandate on Mars right now is to search for habitable environments (in the past or present). Mars has a thin atmosphere that does not allow water to flow or remain in large quantities on the surface, but we know for sure that there is ice at the poles — and possibly frosty locations elsewhere on the planet. The question is if the ice is capable of melting enough water in the summer long enough to support any microbes.
Mars Express Data from Mars South Pole.  Credits: ESA/ Image Courtesy of F. Altieri (IFSI-INAF) and the OMEGA team

Mars Express Data from Mars South Pole. Credits: ESA/ Image Courtesy of F. Altieri (IFSI-INAF) and the OMEGA team

Mars used to have a thicker atmosphere.
For water to flow in the past, the Red Planet needs more atmosphere. So something must have changed in the past few billion years. What? It is thought that the Sun’s energy striking the atmosphere must have “stripped” the lighter forms of hydrogen from the top, scattering the molecules into space. Over long periods of time, this would lessen the amount of atmosphere near Mars. This question is being investigated in more detail with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft.

Mars has some extreme highs and lows in terrain.
The surface gravity of Mars is only 37% of what you would find on Earth, which makes it possible for volcanoes to be taller without collapsing. This is why we have Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano known on a planet in the Solar System. It’s 16 miles (25 kilometers) high and its diameter is approximately the same as the state of Arizona, according to NASA. But Mars also has a deep and wide canyon known as Valles Marineris, after the spacecraft (Mariner 9) that discovered it. In some parts, the canyon is 4 miles (7 kilometers) deep. According to NASA, the valley is as wide as the United States and is about 20% of the Red Planet’s diameter.

Valles Marineris as seen in this mosaic of Viking orbiter images. Noctis Labyrinthus at the left, Melas Chasma in the middle, Hebes Chasma just left of top center, Eos Chasma at lower right and Ganges Chasma just above center right. Credit: NASA/JPL

Valles Marineris as seen in this mosaic of Viking orbiter images. Noctis Labyrinthus at the left, Melas Chasma in the middle, Hebes Chasma just left of top center, Eos Chasma at lower right and Ganges Chasma just above center right. Credit: NASA/JPL

Mars has two moons — and one of them is doomed.
The planet has two asteroid-like moons called Phobos and Deimos. Because they have compositions that are similar to asteroids found elsewhere in the Solar System, according to NASA, most scientists believe the Red Planet’s gravity snatched the moons long ago and forced them into orbit. But in the life of the Solar System, Phobos has a pretty short lifetime. In about 30 million to 50 million years, Phobos is going to crash into Mars’ surface or rip apart because the tidal force of the planet will prove too much to resist.

We have pieces of Mars on Earth
Remember the low gravity on Mars that we talked about? In the past, the planet has been hit by large asteroids — just like Earth. Most of the debris fell back on the planet, but some of it was ejected into space. That sparked an incredible journey where the debris moved around the Solar System and in some cases, landed on Earth. The technical name for these meteorites is called SNC (Shergottites, Nakhlites, Chassignites — types of geologic composition). Gases trapped in some of these meteorites has been practically identical to what NASA’s Viking landers sampled on the Red Planet in the 1970s and 1980s.
Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two moons, with the Stickney crater seen on the right side. 
Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA

Mars would kill an unprotected astronaut quickly.
There are a lot of unpleasant scenarios for somebody who took of their helmet. First, Mars is usually pretty cold; its average temperature is -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 degrees Celsius) at the mid-latitudes. Second, it has practically no atmosphere. The air pressure on Mars is only 1% of what we have (on average) on the Earth’s surface. And third, even if it did have atmosphere, the composition is not compatible with the nitrogen-oxygen mix humans require. Specifically, Mars has about 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon and a few other elements in its atmosphere.

In the early Space Age, we thought Mars was like the moon.
The early NASA probes that flew by the Red Planet all, coincidentally, happened to image spots on the planets that had craters. This led some scientists to (mistakenly) believe that Mars has an environment similar to the moon: cratered and practically unchanging. This all changed when Mariner 9 arrived at the planet for an orbital mission in November 1971 and discovered the planet engulfed in a global dust storm. What’s more, odd features were poking out above the dust — features that turned out to be dormant volcanoes. And as mentioned earlier, Mariner 9 found the vast Valles Marineris. It changed our view of the planet forever.

Mars has methane in its atmosphere, but we don’t know how much.
Methane can be interpreted as a sign of biological activity — microbes emit it — or even of geologic activity. And active planets, it is thought, are more likely to have life on them. So the question of methane on Mars is one that scientists are trying to figure out. The consensus? There is no consensus. Telescopic observations have had wildly different measurements over the years, and few spacecraft have been designed to probe for the element in detail. The Curiosity rover has detected tenfold spikes in methane in its area, but we don’t know where it came from and why the fluctuations are happening.

Mars is a popular spacecraft destination.
There have been so many spacecraft that attempted a Martian mission that it’s hard to pick notable ones in a short article. NASA’s Vikings were the first landers in 1976; in fact, NASA is the only agency that has managed to land on the planet so far. Some of its other missions include Pathfinder-Sojourner (the first lander-rover combination) in 1997, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004, and the Curiosity rover of 2012. And this doesn’t even mention the fleet of orbiters that have mapped Mars over the years from the Soviet Union, NASA, the European Space Agency and India. And there are many more spacecraft to come in the next decade.

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