Published on March 31st, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie12
The Planet Mars: Our Infatuation With The Red Neighbour
Planet Mars. One of the most stunning sights in the Solar System. It has caused panics and love-affairs. Thousands of different types of people have given their opinion on it.
Academics, politicians, writers, celebrities have talked about it yet not one single human being has ever seen its surface. Our enduring love-affair with the little red planet, Mars.
Stoking Our Fascination With The Red Planet
Mars, since time immemorial, has captured the spirit and imagination of mankind. Long have humans speculated on what it must be like to set foot on the surface of the planet. In fact, many believed that planet Mars harboured life.
The first successful probes to land on Mars occurred in the 1970’s with the Viking probes.
Since 1997 rover’s, which are landing crafts with wheels, have gathered detailed pictures and provided analysis.
Since probes have been sent to take startling pictures and gather data on the planet – it has become clear that, whatever about the past, there is now no life on our red-coloured neighbour. Or so we currently believe.
Planet Mars And Martian Reality
It takes light three minutes and six seconds on average to breach the distance between planet Mars and the Earth. So while not in easy reach, Mars is our second-closest neighbouring planet after Venus.
At just 6,792 kilometres (4,245 miles) in diameter, Mars is quite small with only one-third the gravity, just over one-tenth the mass, and one-hundred the atmosphere of the Earth.
A day on planet Mars, at 24 hours and ten minutes, is almost identical to our planet but a Mars year lasts much longer at 687 days.
Mars has a simple structure in comparison to other terrestrial planets in the Solar System such as Earth. With a relatively small solid core and a thick mantle, planet Mars has a slightly different structure than the other planets.
A Harsh Martian Climate
The surface of Mars can be a very hostile place with frequent dust storms covering almost the whole of the planet. The mean surface temperature is a mind-blowing minus 63 degrees Celsius (minus 81 degrees Fahrenheit).
Nonetheless, temperatures can plummet as low as minus 87 degrees Celsius (minus 124 degrees Fahrenheit) while they can also reach a mildly pleasant 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).
Planet Mars: Seasonally Eccentric
Although Mars experiences similar seasons to those of what we experience on Earth, because of the elliptical orbit of the planet, its seasons can last much longer. This causes its distance from the Sun to be quite varied. Its orbit also quite eccentric which means seasons can vast for long periods of time.
Mars has intrigued people for ages. Its dark markings and what appeared to be canals stoked astronomer’s curiosity.
The first probes soon dispelled these notions, showing a planet that seemed lifeless. Although they only took one side of the planet so the mystery remained.
The Red Lure
Planet Mars has long attracted our sights to its red hue. It has greeted our visions for hundreds of thousands of years while we have marvelled at its gaze. Countless dreams and thoughts have possessed us as we contemplated what wondrous feelings and visions would await us if we stepped on its surface.
While we have yet to set foot on its soil, our machines have vicariously do this for us. And in have them do so, we are getting ever closer to our first intimate rendez-vous. Our unending love-affair continues.
Highly Recommended Reading
Check out Yellow Magpie’s Mars’s Moons: The Oddness Of Phobos And Deimos, Mars’s Volcanoes: A Stunningly Mysterious World With Colossal Vents, Terraforming Mars: How To Create Another Home Planet, The Planet Mars And The Valles Marineris: A Wonderland Of Canyons and The Red Planet And Water: Is There Life On Mars? for further insight into The Red Planet.
You may also wish to take a gander at The Solar System And Beyond: A Guide To The Cosmos.
Cosmos is a highly recommended book. It contains large, full-page pictures of Mars and writing on the subject by the highly competent author, Giles Sparrow.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Cosmos from here.
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain: Cosmos here.
For Germany: Cosmos.
For France: Cosmos.