|What We Know About the Red Planet|
|Moons||Dust Storms||Stats||Closest||Kid Pix|
|Lunar||Movies||Life Search||Wanted||Exploring Mars|
Sophisticated probes should unravel old mysteries:
What Would We Like to Know?
The new era of sophisticated robot probes launched from Earth by the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and China will teach us many new things about Mars and should further unravel some old mysteries.
What would we like the coming flotilla of space probes to tell us about Mars? Among other things, Solar System astronomers and physical scientists hope to find:
Researchers say Mars once was more like Earth — warmer and wetter with a denser atmosphere.
- Large amounts of water frozen beneath the rusty red surface or at the poles.
- Landing sites where astronauts can walk someday.
- Conclusive evidence that life once existed on Mars.
Over the next two decades, many landers have been scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet and many orbiters are scheduled to circle above, mapping the Martian terrain and relaying communications back to Earth.
- What happened to its climate and geology?
- Did the planet foster life?
- Could hardy organisms be hanging on in crevices or soil on Mars?
- Do the climate changes raise a yellow flag for life on Earth?
MORE ON PAST AND FUTURE MARS PROBES »
It's all about the search for life. The biggest Mars mystery is whether life ever did, or still does, exist on the Red Planet. The discovery on Earth of meteorites from Mars which seem to contain evidence of primitive life out there has raised many new questions about the origin of life in the Solar System.
Answering such questions and unraveling mysteries would lead to an age of enlightenment on Earth. The answers undoubtedly would bring up even more profound questions.
- Could Mars have had simple forms of life before organic life appeared on Earth?
- Could a chunk of Mars have landed on Earth and seeded our planet? That's a far-out suggestion, but, if true, we would be the result three or four billion years later.
- Are we Martians? Some scientists find it a fascinating speculation that perhaps the home planet of the human race might actually be Mars.
- With one of Earth's nearest neighbors showing evidence of life, could life be far more prevalent in the galaxy than people have imagined?
MORE ON THE SEARCH FOR LIFE »
Sending human life to Mars. Human flights to the Red Planet probably will commence sometime between 2015-2030. NASA, Russia, Europe, Japan and China are contemplating plans for human crews to explore Mars eventually.
It takes time to design and carry out such elaborate missions. NASA says six years would be required between a final decision to send humans to Mars and blastoff. The actual blastoff date depends on what the robot Mars probes find at the Red Planet. The data on Mars climate and geology they collect will be essential for planning ahead. The sample-return probes will return to Earth from Mars with pounds of Martian rock and soil for analysis.
The orbiters, landers and sample returns will confirm that Mars has mysteries requiring the presence of humans to solve.
MORE ON HUMAN FLIGHTS TO MARS »
Learn more: Human Exploration of Mars:
There have been three stages of exploration so far
Probes fly by Mars taking pictures
Spacecraft fly into orbit above Mars
Landers and Rovers:
- Mariner 8-9
- Viking 1-2
- Mars Observer
- Mars Climate Orbiter
- Mars Global Surveyor
- Mars Global Surveyor home
- 2001 Mars Odyssey
- 2001 Mars Odyssey home
- Mars Express
- Mars Express home
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 2005
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter home
Landers and rovers drop to the surface
- Space Today Online
- National Park Service
- Washington State
- US Army Training
- Princeton Univ
Ice: Mars Photo Galleries:
- Mars Sand Dunes Gallery
- Mars Dust Storms Gallery
- Mars Terrain Gallery
- Mars Polar Ice Caps Gallery
- Mars Volcanoes Gallery
- Mars Water Features Gallery
- Mars Craters Gallery
- Mars Canyons Gallery