We learn something about everything everyday- whether it is ourselves or the fourth planet in our solar system.
The Red Planet is named after the Roman God of War. In fact, Romans had copied the Greeks as the latter had named the planet after their God of War- Ares. Even other civilizations named the planet as per its color. For instance, the Europeans call it “Her Desher”- it means the red one. Whereas the Chinese astronomers named it “the fire star”.
The bright rusty color of the planet is due to the iron-rich minerals found- the rock and the loose dust covering the surface, also known as regolith. Even the soil of Earth is similar to regolith and packed with organic content too. As per NASA, it is the iron minerals that oxidize making the soil look red.
The planet has a cold temperature and a thin atmosphere, meaning that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars. Recurring Slope Linae are some features that may have briny water flowing. But, this is a piece of disputed evidence. Some scientists say that those are the hydrogen spotted that appear to be briny salts. This means that even though this desert planet is Earth’s half in size, it has equally dry land.
The Red Planet includes both the highest mountain and the deepest longest valley in the entire solar system. Olympus Mons, three times that of Mt. Everest, is about 17 miles high. On the other hand, Valles Marineris, named after the Mariner 9 probe, was discovered in 1971. It is as deep as 6 miles and runs 2500 miles from east to west. It is about one-fifth of the distance around Mars, almost close to that of Australia.
As believed by scientists, Valles Mariners formed as the crust rifted and got stretched. Each individual canyon measures about 60 miles wide. And, the canyons merge in the central part of the valley in a 370 miles stretch. The huge channels formed on the end of the canyons and the layered sediments say that the canyons might have been once filled with liquid water.
Some channels are 60 miles wide, and 1200 miles long. Water may still be found in some cracks and pores in the underground rocks. A study in 2018 by scientists suggests that there is salty water below the surface of Mars, and can even hold a sustainable amount of oxygen to support microbial life. However, it is important to note that the presence of oxygen depends upon the factors like pressure and temperature. The temperature seems to alter from time to time depending upon the tilt as it rotates on its axis.
The region of Mars is mostly flat and low-lying plains. The northern plains are the lowest, flattest and smoothest place in the entire solar system. It potentially might have been created by water that once used to flow on the surface of Mars. The northern hemisphere is comparatively lower than the southern hemisphere- it implies that the crust is thin in the southern hemisphere. This variation amongst the hemispheres might be because of the impact right after the birth of the planet Mars.
The number of crates on the Martian surface varies from place to place, depending upon the surface type. The southern hemisphere has an old surface that is filled with craters- even the largest crater of the planet, namely, Hellas Planitia- it is 1400 miles wide. Whereas, the northern hemisphere has a new and young surface with few craters.
Human Missions to Mars
Robots are not the only ones making it to Mars. A NASA-led mission to Mars has been organized by a group of scientists from various government agencies, industry, and academia to be possible by the 2030s.
The past missions with Robots on the Red Planet were successful, but getting people on the planet Mars is still a challenge. With the recently available advanced technology, it will take at least 6 months for people to reach the surface of Mars. Therefore, the travelers to the Red Planet will be exposed to certain extremities like radiation, long stretches of microgravity – they have negative impacts on the human body.
Even more so, performing activities on the grounds of Mars can be very difficult after months of exposure to microgravity. The International Space Station is working on the research of microgravity and its effects.
NASA is not the only entity to crew people for Mars. Other nations like Russia and China are organizing their troops too. Above all, the well-known Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, had launched the company in 2002 primarily to settle human civilization on the Red Planet. The company is right now developing reusable transportation in the deep space known as Starship- this is believed to be the breakthrough needed to get people on Mars.