Earth Science Class Topic Mars Attached Documents Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
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  • Subject: Astronomy
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #41611731

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Earth Science class topic Mars. Attached documents style report properly. 2-10 sources peer-reviews journal. And 2 figures. Please read documents. In text citations needed .

Mars has always been one of the most intriguing planets in the solar systems and society did not hesitate to relate through the planet both from an astronomic point-of-view and from a cultural perspective. The fact that it is very probable for primitive life to exist below the planet's surface makes it possible for the masses to understand that this planet is not as different from earth as they might be inclined to imagine. One of the most effective methods to learn more about Mars would be to compare it to Earth. This would enable individuals to become acquainted with the planet's particularities and with its similarities to other planets in the solar system.

The planet's history and its relationship to mankind

a. Mars' contemporary significance

When seen first Mars appears to be very different from Earth and the fact that the social order has come to associate the concept of alien life forms with Martians demonstrates that people actually believe that the planet is nothing like the one they call home. However, the planet has most probably had running waters on its surface several billions of years ago and has had active volcanoes. "Recent high-resolution images of the surface of Mars have strengthened earlier views that water may once have run across the surface of the planet" (Kusky 262). The fact that water is no longer present on the planet's surface points toward the belief that it is frozen under the planet's surface. This is most probably owed to a massive global cooling that took place on Mars approximately four billions of years ago (Kusky 262).

b. Humanity's interest in Mars

The fact that there has been little to no direct contact to Mars until the recent years and most missions attempting to reach Mars have failed to do so is one of the main reasons for which people have a limited understanding of the planet. Even with this, humanity has been fascinated with the planet for hundreds and even thousands of years, ever since the appearance of the first telescope. While this fascination generated a lot of interest in the planet, it also distorted people's ability to learn more about it. The red planet influenced many in associating it with war and death, this being especially visible through the fact that the Romans named it Mars, in an attempt to link it to the god of war (LaFontaine).

People knew very little about Mars in ancient times, but in addition to its unique color they could only associate two ideas with it: it appeared every two years and it follows a peculiar, loop-like path through the sky. "Only one important advance was made before the modern era, when Aristotle observed an occultation of Mars by the Moon and inferred that Mars "was higher up in the heavens" than the Moon, i.e., farther away" (Matthews 2). Many communities emphasized that Mars had an essential astrological role and that its movements could reflect negatively or positively on particular individuals (Matthews 2).

Astronomers in the late nineteenth century fueled people's imagination by emphasizing that Mars contained a lot of surface canals that probably held running waters at a certain point in history. This influenced many novelists to focus their works on the planet and on relating to how it was the place where intelligent life could be present. Numerous scientists have actually been affected as a result of reading Mars-related fiction stories and directed their attention toward this impressive planet. This being said, authors like H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury are partly responsible for the fact that scientists in recent years focused on devising missions meant to provide humanity with more information about Mars (LaFontaine Cover1).

c. Mars exploration missions

Even with the fact that people were very interested in Mars through the years, it was not until July 1965 that they actually came to observe the planet's surface from a closer perspective. The Mariner missions involved probes that would photograph the planet's surface and send the photos back with the purpose of having experts examine them. The U.S. landed two Viking probes on Mars in 1975 and they both failed to find life on the planet. However, they provided the first pictures showing the planet's surface and its atmosphere and further contributed to humanity's understanding of Mars.

Mars Pathfinder landed on the planet on the 4th of July 1997 after travelling for 469 million kilometers through space. It contained the Sojourner, a Mars rover that travelled across the planet's surface and returned with data and resources to the ship. The rover itself was particular proficient in revealing information concerning the planet, as it

"was fitted with numerous instruments to examine Martian rocks" (Bergin & Salariya 9).

Mars exploration rovers have made it possible for scientists to conduct field experiments on Mars by using a mobile laboratory that they could program in a series of ways. NASA has had a series of robot geologists working on Mars and the ones that produced data concerning the planet during the recent years are probably among the most notable. Spirit and Opportunity are part of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission and have been launched on the 10th of June 2003 and on the 7th of July 2003, respectively. Scientists had limited expectation concerning their evolution and were hesitant about expressing opinions about how the overall mission would turn out. Even with this, both rovers managed to amaze everyone as a consequence of the fact that they performed exemplary. They were initially expected to last for three months -- the time period it took for them to provide more information concerning the history of water on Mars. They lasted for much more as Opportunity continues to travel around the planet while communication with Spirit ended in 2010, when it stopped ten times further than it was initially expected to stop. One of the most intriguing concepts regarding Opportunity is that no one knows when the rover is going to stop because experts never thought about performing tests regarding failure of important components. Opportunity can basically end its mission in the next few days or it can continue to work for several years (Doyle).

Both Opportunity and Spirit produced a great deal of information pointing toward the belief that water is, indeed, present on Mars' surface and they can practically be considered responsible for most of the information that science has in regard to the planet. Opportunity came across a series of iron meteorites which it discovered had landed on a soft and wet Martian surface several millions of years before it came across them. The rover also discovered that Mars is an active planet as a result of observing winds covering its tracks. This stands in harsh contrast with conditions on the Moon, taking into account that footprints belonging to astronauts visiting it several decades earlier continue to be present on its surface. Opportunity will continue to receive energy from the sun as long as its solar panels continue to be active and it is likely to generate even more surprise as it discovers more and more information about Mars. Individuals controlling the rover have devised a program allowing it to act without needing to communicate on a constant basis with them and are enthusiastic about providing the machine with even more missions that it can perform (Doyle).

Although it is difficult to determine the exact moment when man is going to walk the surface of Mars, it is only safe to assume that people are going to reach the planet within the next decades. This is surely debatable, considering that more and more spatial agencies are provided with less government funding and that it is very expensive for them to continue to work on programs meant to provide more information concerning space in general.

Curiosity is the latest rover to have reached Mars and it is very different from previous rovers because it has the size of a car and because it contains far more advanced technology. "The car-size Curiosity is about twice as long and more than five times as heavy as Spirit and Opportunity" (Rusch 74). Experts believe that this rover will have problems equaling the twin rovers when considering their strength, but consider that it is going to compensate as a result of more advanced and powerful devices. Curiosity's builders practically took all of the instruments that worked well on the twin rovers and modified them in order to be even more effective on the new rover (Rusch 74).

The fact that Curiosity is much better in comparison to Spirit and Opportunity is observable by looking at how it found clear evidence that water once ran across Martian fields. By analyzing a mound of layered rock called Mount Sharp, Curiosity discovered that this formation was actually what remained as a result…

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