Exploring Mars Where Life Can Be Possible in Future

Mars is situated four planets away from our sun. It features two uncommon moons and has an earth-toned hue. The Red Planet, located within our solar system, is a barren desert world with a thin atmosphere but dynamic weather systems. It boasts of being cold yet bright at the same time.

Marsquakes, or their equivalent on Mars, regularly cause seismic waves on our home planet. According to NASA Science, it’s no wonder why scientists find Mars so captivating; after all, it is one of the most studied bodies in our solar system.

Romans named their planet after Ares, their war god, for its red hue and bloody appearance. This practice was followed by ancient Greeks, who named their world after Ares – their god of war!

Other civilizations also used the colour of our planet as an identifier; Egyptians called it Her Desher – meaning “the Red One”, while ancient Chinese astronomers dubbed it the Fire Star.

Why is Mars Called the Red Planet?

Regolith, the loose rock and dust that covers Mars’ surface, is a regolith. Its bright rust colour is due to minerals rich in iron. Earth’s soil, rich in organic material, is also regolith.

NASA says that the iron minerals oxidize or rust and cause the soil to appear red, and that is the reason Mars is called the Red Planet.

Mars’ Surfaces

Liquid water may not exist for any significant period on Mars’ surface due to its thin atmosphere and cold temperatures, though some scientists speculate recurring slope lines may indicate briny lakes on its surface;

This remains unconfirmed, however, and hydrogen detected from orbit may suggest briny sals instead. Mars also boasts the same amount of dry land as Earth despite being half its diameter.

Olympus Mons, standing approximately 17 miles (27km), is three times taller than Mount Everest and stretches for roughly 2,500 miles (4000km) east to west across Mars – approximately one-fifth the distance around our solar system and about the width of Australia.

Valles Marineris Valley System, found by Mariner 9 space probe in 1971, is at least 6 miles (10km deep and extends east-west across approximately one-fifth the planet’s circumference, or roughly equivalent to Australia in width.

Scientists speculate that the Valles Marineris was formed primarily through the rifting of the crust during its stretching, with individual canyons reaching as wide as 100 km (60 miles).

Together, these canyons merge into an expanse that spans up to 370 miles wide at its centre; from their ends come large channels that emerge, suggesting they were once filled with liquid.

Olympus Mons is one of the largest volcanoes on Mars, covering an area large enough to encase New Mexico and measuring 370 miles wide (600 km).

Olympus Mons is a shield-shaped volcano with steep slopes similar to Hawaiian volcanoes, formed by long-distance lava flow that solidified.

However, Mars boasts many more volcanic landforms ranging from small cones with steep sides to vast plains covered in hardened lava flow; minor eruptions may still occur today on Mars!

Mars is covered with channels, valleys and gullies, indicating liquid water may have flowed over its surface recently. Some tracks stretch 1,200 km (2,000 miles).

There may also be water in cracks and pores beneath rock layers that may hold pockets of moisture that provide habitat for microorganisms to thrive – depending on pressure and temperature changes as Mars’ rotating axis tilts.

Scientists in 2018 conducted experiments that found salty waters underlying Mars may contain significant levels of oxygen, which support microbial life as pressure and temperature change with temperature changes related to changes on Mars’ rotational axis tilt changes over time, allowing microbes to thrive microbially growth depending on stress and temperature changes dependent upon pressure changes associated with tilts axis tilt.

Mars features numerous low-lying plains that are some of the smoothest places in our solar system, particularly those found near Mars’ northern pole.

Water may once have flowed across its surface. Furthermore, Mars’ northern hemisphere tends to have a lower elevation than its southern one, suggesting its crust may be thinner due to its impact shortly after Mars was born.

Researchers explain their discovery of an enormous lake of liquid water on Mars.

Roberto Orosei and his colleagues recently published a paper detailing the discovery of an immense body of liquid on Mars covering an area of 20 kilometres (12 miles). Credit goes to Stefano Parisini/Media INAF for this finding.

The number of craters can differ depending on where one lives and its age; those living in the southern hemisphere often feature more cavities due to an older surface;

For instance, Hellas Planitia in Greece boasts the largest one at 1,400 miles wide (2300 km). On the contrary, northern hemisphere surfaces have younger surfaces and have far fewer and younger craters (with some volcanic eruptions producing only recent lavas that filled any older ones) or contain deposits similar to solidified mudflows, which indicate where impacts might have hit groundwater or ice underground.

In 2018, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express probe discovered a possible slurry beneath the Planum Australe of Mars, sometimes referred to as a lake; reports vary as to its true nature;

Reports claim there may be more regolith than previously anticipated in this body of water that measures roughly 12.4 miles (20 km).

Similar bodies of water exist underground in Antarctica, which provide habitats for microbes. Mars Express also discovered an extensive, icy zone inside Korolev Crater late last year – yet another discovery made possible thanks to Mars Express.

Mars Moons

Asaph Hall, an American astronomer, discovered the Phobos and Deimos of Mars in 1877. Hall almost gave up when his wife Angelina encouraged him to continue searching.

Deimos was found the following night while Phobos six more days later; both moons are named after Ares’ sons, Phobos and Deimos.

Phobos and Deimos appear composed of carbon-rich rocks mixed with ice, covered in dust and stones. Both moons appear small compared to Earth; neither has enough gravity for circular shapes like those seen on our Moon.

Phobos is more extensive at around 17 miles (27km), while Deimos is about 9 miles (15km). Our Moon is 2,159 miles wide or 3,475 kilometres across.

Both Mars’ moons contain craters left by meteor impacts. Phobos also feature intricate grooves caused by an effect that created its most giant crater – an 8-mile (10km) wide hole that covers half its width – leaving an impression similar to our own Moon’s. Both satellites appear on the same side as their parent planet, ours.

Deimos and Phobos’ origin is still unclear; it could have been former asteroids captured by Mars’ gravitational pull or formed around its time of formation, according to Italian astronomers who claim that Phobos reflects ultraviolet light as evidence that it’s made up of captured asteroids.

Phobos is currently spiralling toward Mars at approximately 6 feet (1,8 metres) per century. If it continues on its current course, Phobos is projected to impact Mars within 50 million years or disintegrate, becoming part of an orbital ring around it.

Mars Facts Quick: Size Composition Structure

Mars has an Earth-like diameter of 4,220 miles (6,791 kilometres). However, the gravity pull on Mars is 38% stronger, about 10% of Earth’s size; an individual weighing 100 pounds would only consider 38 on Mars; their mass remains the same.

Atmospheric Composition (by Volume)

According to NASA, the atmosphere of Mars is 95.32% carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, 0.13% oxygen and 0.08% carbon monoxide, with minor amounts of water, nitrogen oxide, neon, hydrogen-deuterium-oxygen, krypton and xenon.

Magnetic Field

Mars’ global magnetic field was lost about 4 billion years ago. This led to solar winds stripping its atmosphere of most of it.

There are still regions on Mars that are at least 10 times more magnetised than anywhere else on Earth. This suggests they are remnants of an ancient global magnetic system.

Internal Structure

NASA’s InSight Lander arrived on Mars near its equatorial region in November 2018 and since then has been probing its interior, monitoring marsquakes and tracking wobbles over time in its tilt by precisely following InSight on its surfaces.

These data have provided invaluable insight into Mars’ internal structure. Recently, InSight team members estimated that its core lies between 1,110-1,300 miles (1,780-2,080 km).

InSight observations show crust thickness ranges between 14 to 45 miles (24 and 72 km). At the same time, mantle volume accounts for the remaining non-atmospheric book of Mars.

Earth has an approximate mantle thickness of 1,800 miles (2900 km). By comparison, its core is 4,400 miles wide (7,100 km), larger than Mars.

Furthermore, two distinct kinds of crust exist on our planet: continental and oceanic, with thicknesses ranging between 25 miles to 40 km and 8 km to 5 miles, respectively.

Chemical Composition

Mars has a solid, iron-nickel-sulphur core. Mars’ mantle is similar to Earth’s, primarily composed of peridotite. This is a volcanic rock made up of silicon, oxygen and iron.

The crust of Mars is likely to be mainly made of basalt volcanic rock, which also occurs in the crusts on Earth and the Moon. However, some crustal rocks in the northern hemisphere may contain more silica.

Mars Polar Caps

The poles span about 80 degrees latitude on either hemisphere. Their formation may have occurred over long periods by atmospheric deposition, with water ice caps remaining frozen year-round atop some layers in both hemispheres.

Winter brings seasonal frost caps of solid carbon dioxide (or “dry ice”) that have formed from our atmosphere, containing 95% carbon dioxide gas, similar to Mars, where 95% is found. Frostcaps such as these can reach latitudes 45 degrees – halfway to the equator.

According to one study published by the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets, dry ice appears fluffy, similar to freshly fallen snow.

Mars’ Climate

Mars is much colder than Earth due to its greater distance from the sun, with temperatures often hovering at or below minus 80 F (minus 60 C), although winter temperatures near poles may drop as low as minus 195F; during midday near equators, it could even hit 70F!

Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere is roughly 100 times thinner than Earth’s, yet still thick enough to support winds, weather and clouds. Winter brings freezing temperatures, which cause carbon dioxide levels to fluctuate due to being frozen out of its atmosphere, thus altering its density.

Mars may once have had a thicker atmosphere that could have supported water flowing across its surface in past times. However, it has since lost volume as the solar wind gradually forced lighter molecules out due to the absence of a global magnetic pole.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter identified carbon-dioxide clouds on Mars – making it unique among all other planets to experience unusual winter weather, with water-ice snowfall from shadows on its surface.

Dust storms on Mars are some of the largest dust storms in our solar system, covering large portions of its surface for months and becoming some of the most significant dust clouds on our solar system.

Their size is made possible because dust particles absorb sunlight to heat the atmosphere around them, creating pockets of warm air that then flow towards colder regions, producing winds;

Strong winds then raise more dust from the ground, causing further heating, which causes additional wind blowing and more dust being kicked up from below, fuelling an endless cycle.

Dust storms pose a severe threat to robots operating on Mars’ surface. NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover died after becoming enveloped in one such dust storm, which blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels and rendered its energy sources inoperable.

Mars Orbits Around Sun

Mars is farther away from the Sun than Earth, which means that the Red Planet’s year is more extended — 687 days as opposed to 365 on our planet.

Mars and Earth have similar day lengths. It takes Mars 24 hours and 40 minutes to rotate around its axis compared to Earth’s 24 hours.

Mars’ axis is also tilted, just like Earth’s. Mars has seasons because, like Earth, the amount and type of sunlight that falls on the Red Planet varies throughout the year.


Distance from the Sun: 227,936,640 kilometres. Comparatively, space is 1.524 times greater than that of Earth.

Perihelion: 128,400,000 km (206,600,000 miles). Comparatively, it is 1.404 times the size of Earth.

Aphelion: 154.900.000 miles (249.200,000 km). Comparatively, it is 1.638 times the size of Earth.

Mars experiences more extreme seasons due to its long and oval orbit. When near our star, its southern hemisphere tilts toward it, giving rise to warm summers accompanied by cold winters;

At further distances away, the opposite occurs, whereby its northern hemisphere tilts in its favour, creating mild, long summers. In contrast, its southern counterpart endures harsh, long winters.

Due to being unsupported by large satellites, Mars’ tilt has steadily varied over time without stabilisation by any one body or entity, resulting in different climates on its surface throughout history.

According to a 2017 study, tilting also affected methane release into its atmosphere, causing temporary warming periods that resulted in water flowing freely on Mars’s surface.

Mars Missions & Research

Galileo Galilei first used a telescope to observe Mars in 1610; astronomers later discovered its polar ice cap in that century.

Researchers in the 19th century, such as Percival L. Lowell, believed they saw straight canals that might indicate civilization on Mars; these sightings turned out to be misinterpretations of geological features.

Scientists have the unique opportunity to study Mars’ rocks without leaving our planet. One such meteorite, Allan Hills (ALH84001), remains one of the most contentious discoveries; according to a 1996 report, it likely contained tiny fossils and evidence of life on Mars.

However, other researchers have contested this interpretation, and its performance remains ongoing despite disagreement with some scientists who conducted this 1996 research project. Debate regarding ALH84001 remains constant today.

An additional 2018 study suggested that organic molecules – carbon-containing compounds essential to life – could have originated on Mars through battery-like chemical reactions.

In the 1960s, robotic spacecraft began studying Mars. In 1969, the United States launched Mariner 4 and Mariners 6 & 7 from NASA – these early missions revealed no signs of life or civilizations as Lowell had imagined;

Mariner 9 then orbited Mars for one orbit around its planet, mapping 80% of its surface while uncovering volcanoes, canyons, and large canyons on its surface.

Mars Helicopter’s Perseverance missions captured in colour and black-and-white photos.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reports that Ingenuity will climb 32.8 feet 10 m for 169 seconds before flying 1,476ft (450m) roundtrip to scout the South Seitan area for Perseverance on August 16, 2021.

In the 1960s and 70s, Soviet Russia launched numerous spacecraft to explore Mars; most of their missions proved unsuccessful due to dust storms that prevented mapping of its surface.

NASA’s Viking 1 landing craft became Mars’s first successful landing vehicle six weeks after Viking 1. Viking 2 made another successful touchdown on another region six weeks after Viking 1.

Viking landers were the first to take close-up images of Mars’s surface, yet found no indications of life there. Gil Levin, principal investigator for their Labelled Release experiment to detect life on Mars, has maintained that they saw signs of metabolic activity within its soil; unfortunately, he died just months later at age 97.

Mars Pathfinder was the first lander to reach Mars, and Mars Global Surveyor was launched by NASA in 1996. Sojourner, an autonomous subcomponent aboard Pathfinder — which featured wheels — explored and analysed rocks on Mars for 95 Earth days while travelling over its surface.

NASA launched their Mars Odyssey orbiter in 2001 and found large amounts of subsurface water beneath the Martian surface. Still, they cannot see anything more profound. Therefore, there may be more below.

Mars was closer than ever in 2003, drawing NASA closer than ever in its history. NASA deployed two golf cart-sized rovers called Spirit and Opportunity that year.

Since landing on January 4, 2004, they have explored different areas of Martian terrain and discovered evidence that water once flowed on Mars’ surface.

Spirit and Opportunity had been initially assigned three-month missions on Earth, yet both proved much longer. NASA declared Spirit dead in 2011, while Opportunity kept operating until mid-2018 when an intense dust storm struck her path.

NASA launched a lander named Phoenix to explore Mars’ northernmost plains in 2008. This robot discovered, among other findings, subsurface water ice.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory launched Curiosity as part of their exploration project in 2011 to investigate past possibilities of life on Mars.

Not surprisingly, Curiosity, when landing at Gale Crater on August 12, determined that an ancient lake-and-stream system that may have supported aquatic life at one time once existed.

Furthermore, Curiosity discovered complex organic molecules and seasonal variations in Mars’ methane levels.

NASA operates two orbiters around Mars: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and MAVEN, which were launched between 2006 and 2014.

Two spacecraft have also been orbiting Mars as part of European Space Agency projects: Mars Express and Trace Gas Orbiter.

India successfully orbited Mars for the fourth time with their Mars Orbiter Mission, becoming only the fourth nation ever.

NASA recently deployed Mars InSight onto the surface in November 2018. As stated, InSight primarily measures and characterises marsquakes to explore Mars’ internal composition and structure.

NASA announced in July 2020 the launch of Perseverance, a rover designed to search for life and collect samples on Mars’ Jezero Crater floor in February 2021 with Ingenuity as a technology demonstration helicopter.

By September 2021, Ingenuity had completed over a dozen flights to Mars, proving aerial exploration possible. Perseverance recorded Ingenuity’s initial flights before shifting its focus towards scientific missions of its own.

Several samples have already been collected by NASA and ESA, which will be brought back home via NASA & ESA in 2031.

Tianwen 1, China’s inaugural effort at Mars exploration, was successfully launched in July 2020; the Hope orbiter arrived on the Red Planet in February 2021 and is studying its climate, weather patterns and atmosphere.

Tianwen 1, an orbiter and lander rover combination, entered Mars orbit in February 2021 and touched down several months later on May 1, with its landing component, Zhurong Rover, rolling off its landing pad to start exploring Mars’ surface.

ESA is currently developing Rosalind Franklin, previously known as ExoMars. This multi-part European project led by ESA is intended to explore Mars both from above and below but has repeatedly been delayed; therefore, it seems unlikely that the launch will occur before 2028.

Future Human Missions on Mars

Scientists representing government agencies, universities and industry have concluded that NASA could conduct a human mission to Mars by the 2030s.

President Donald Trump’s administration directed NASA in late 2017 to send astronauts back to the Moon before heading towards Mars.

To this end, Artemis is being developed to establish an ongoing, sustainable human presence on the Moon by the late 2020s.

According to NASA officials, this lunar mission will provide invaluable lessons and skills needed for astronauts landing on Mars in future missions.

Robotic missions to Mars have proven highly successful over recent decades, but getting people there remains a significant challenge. Current rocket technology takes at least six months to transport people there.

It exposes Red Planet explorers to long periods of deep space radiation and microgravity exposure, which both have devastating effects on human bodies – after months of microgravity exposure, it may even become difficult for humans to perform activities under moderate gravity levels on Mars – an effect being researched at International Space Station currently.

NASA isn’t alone with Mars crewed ambitions – China and Russia have also announced their desire to send humans there.

Elon Musk has long maintained that SpaceX was founded with one goal: helping humanity colonize Mars. SpaceX has developed and is testing Starship as part of this endeavour – hoping it may provide the breakthrough necessary to bring people there.


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