Mars is the fourth planet in our solar system if we count from Sun. It is also the second smallest planet in solar system and it appears red in color due to the presence of Iron oxide on its surface. Mars is sometimes referred to as the ‘Red Planet’ and it gets its name from the Greek god of war. It is very difficult to observe mars, even with very large telescopes, because of its small size. Mars is much smaller in size as compared to our planet but its surface area is approximately same as that of Earth. Gravitational force on mars is 62.5% less than that of earth. So if you go mars, you will feel much lighter. Orbit of mars is elliptical and as a result of this the temperature of Mars varies drastically across its surface. During summer the surface temperature of mars changes from 140 Kelvin to 300 Kelvin.
Mars has always been an interesting planet to be studied and there were many Mars exploration missions. In 1965, first spacecraft from earth visited mars. It was named as Mariner 4. After that several spacecraft have been sent to explore Mars by various countries. The Viking landers were the first spacecrafts which landed on the surface of Mars.
Here are some interesting facts about Mars:
Largest Mountain of the solar system is on Mars
Olympus Mons; that is its name. It is the largest volcano in the solar system. Olympus Mons has a diameter of about 624 kilo meters and 22 kilometers of height. Height of Olympus Mons is three times the height of Mount Everest and if it was on earth, it would have covered an area approximately equal to that of France.
Water was there on Mars
Scientists suspect that there was plenty of water on mars. According to NASA, there was a large amount of water on mars, which could cover 19% of area of the planet’s surface. They made these observations with the help of W.M. Keck Observatory (Hawaii) and the Very Large Telescope (Chile). There were two forms of water on Mars. One is H2O and other is HDO, where D is Deuterium. The Studies show that Mars lost about 87% of its water content, which was present before, to the outer space.
There have been 40 missions to reach mars until September 2014. But among them, only 18 missions were successful. Mars Curiosity mission (NASA, 2012), MAVEN mission (NASA, 2014) and, MOM- Mars Orbiter Mission (ISRO, 2014) are the recent, successful mars missions. ExoMars mission (European Space Agency) and InSight robotic lander missions (NASA) are the upcoming mars missions.
Valkyrie is going to visit Mars
Valkyrie is a human like robot that was created by NASA. It is of six feet high and weighs 300 pounds. This is their first ever bipedal robot which is expected to help the future Mars exploring astronauts. NASA aims to send humans to mars by mid 2030’s, but before that they are expecting to send these humanoid robots and set a habitat of robots. Valkyrie robots were initially designed to be used for disaster relief robotics competition conducted by Advanced Research Project agency of US Military. There are four of Valkyrie robots and one of them is kept in its birth place, Johnson Space Center (Houston).
Plants which can grow on Mars
NASA had developed a soil which resembles that of Mars. Scientists from Wageningen University (Netherlands) have been experimenting on this soil and they are able to raise about 10 crops, since there’s a chance for these plants to absorb heavy metals such as cadmium, copper and lead in mars soil, which is poisonous. Among the ten plants, four of them are found to contain very less amount of dangerous metals which will not create any harmful effect. The scientists successfully harvested radishes, tomatoes, rye and peas on the Martian like soil and they are tested to be safe for eating.
These current studies show that in future it is possible to have human settlements on the red planet. May be our successors will make a new community in mars and hope they will learn from our mistakes that we committed on Earth and build a good educated society on mars.