When the sun sets and the moon starts to dance, in the soft embrace of twilight, A region so divine exists there, where spirits entwine and colors meld. In the background of the enormous, infinite sea, The sky, and the ley are painted in a variety of colors. When the day is through, the flaming orange of the setting sun turns to purple. Where the dolphins play in the surf, Emerald and sapphire greens blend together, as turquoise licks the golden sand of the shore. Nature has a kind hand in this beautiful place.
The fourth planet, Mars, is also the one that is furthest distant from the Sun among the terrestrial planets. Its surface is a reddish tint because of soil that contains fine-grained iron(III) oxide dust, earning it the moniker “the Red Planet.” At 3,389.5 km (2,106 mi), Mars has the second-smallest radius of all the planets in the Solar System. On the surface, one can see the Martian dichotomy: generally speaking, the landscape on Mars‘ northern hemisphere is flatter and lower than that on its southern hemisphere. Mars features two atypically shaped natural satellites, Phobic and Deimos, and a thin atmosphere mostly composed of carbon dioxide.
Mars’ geology is relatively dynamic, with dust devils moving across the planet and mars quakes (the equivalent of earthquakes on Mars) shaking the ground. Olympus Mons, one of the Solar System’s biggest shield volcanoes, and Valli’s Mariner is, one of its largest canyons, can be found on the surface of Mars. Mars has a huge seasonal variation in the polar ice cap coverage and temperature swings between 110 °C (166 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F) due to its significant orbital eccentricity and axial tilt. A Martian solar year (sol) is equivalent to 1.88 Earth years, and a Martian sun day (sol) is equal to 24.5 hours.
Mars formed some 4.5 billion years ago, along with the rest of the planets in the Solar System. About 4.1 to 3.7 billion years ago, during the Noachian period, meteor strikes, valley creation, erosion, and the potential existence of oceans of water left their marks on Mars’ surface. Huge outflow channels were formed by massive volcanic activity and flooding during the Hesperian epoch, which lasted between 3.7 and 3.2-2 billion years ago. The impact of the wind on geological processes was a defining characteristic of the Amazonian epoch, which is still in effect now. Whether life has ever existed on Mars is uncertain.
Since Mars is one of the brightest celestial objects, it has been known about for a very long time. It is frequently used as a subject for telescopic gazing because to its high-contrast albedo characteristics. Since the late 20th century, unmanned spacecraft and rovers have been exploring Mars. The Mariner 4 probe made the first flyby in 1965, the Mars 2 probe made the first Mars orbiter in 1971, and the Viking 1 probe made the first landing in 1976. There are at least 11 active probes orbiting Mars or on the surface of Mars as of 2023. Mars is presently a desirable destination for the initial interplanetary human expeditions.
Mars is a harsh, arid planet. Its size is half that of Earth. Sometimes people refer to Mars as the Red Planet. Because of the rusty iron in the earth, it is red. Mars features weather, canyons, volcanoes, polar ice caps, and seasons just like Earth. Its atmosphere, which is composed of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon, is extremely thin. Although water is primarily present as ice soil and thin clouds now, there are still relics of historic floods on Mar. There is proof of groundwater in the form of liquid salt on several Martian mountain slopes.
Life on Mars?
Identifying fossilized bacteria on Earth is challenging enough. How might we possibly identify them on Mars?
Reporters, photographers, and TV camera crews barged into the NASA building in Washington, D.C. on August 7, 1996. The audience in NASA’s auditorium paid more attention to a little, clear plastic box on the table in front of the scientists than they did to the row of people sitting there. A velvet pillow from within the box has a rock from Mars nestling on top of it like a crown jewel. The researchers declared that they had discovered indications of life inside the meteorite. Daniel Goldin, the administrator of NASA, gushed that it was a “unbelievable” day. He was more precise than he realized.
The rock, according to the researchers, developed 4.5 billion years ago on Mars and remained there until it was propelled into space 16 million years ago, most likely by the impact of an asteroid. Before falling to Antarctica 13,000 years ago, the rock traveled the inner solar system. Geologists who were snowmobiling dug it up in 1984 after it had been left on the ice near Allan Hills.
Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, led by David McKay, discovered that the rock, designated ALH84001, had an unusual chemical composition. It contained a mix of minerals and carbon molecules, which are made by bacteria on Earth. Additionally, it included magnetite crystals, a magnetic iron oxide that is produced by some bacteria. Additionally, McKay showed the audience an image of the rock using an electron microscope that revealed chains of globules that were strikingly similar to the chains that some microorganisms on Earth generate. According to McKay, the data is “pointers in that direction” rather than “absolute proof” of past Martian life, but “we believe that these are indeed microfossils from Mars.”
J. William Scoff, a pale biologist with a focus on early Earth fossils at the University of California, Los Angeles, was among the last speakers that day. Scoff announced to the crowd, “I’ll show you the oldest evidence of life on this planet,” and then showed a slide of a chain of minute globules that he had discovered in Australia and that was 3.465 billion years old. Schopf stated, “These are demonstrably fossils,” meaning that NASA’s Martian images were not fossils. Carl Sagan, an astronomer, was quoted by the speaker as saying, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Scientists have questioned how they can determine whether a blob, crystal, or chemical abnormality is a sign of life—even on Earth—in response to the disagreement. The fossils Shop proudly presented in 1996 are among the earliest pieces of life-on-Earth evidence that have sparked discussion. This argument raises important issues, such as the origin of life on Earth. Some scientists assert that life did not resemble life as we know it today for the first few hundred million years that it existed.
NASA researchers are using what they’ve learned to address the debate over whether there is life on Mars. If everything goes according to plan, a new generation of rovers will reach Mars during the following ten years. These initiatives will make use of cutting-edge technologies developed to identify specific compounds produced by live or extinct Martian life.