Technology

Mars: Just a Planet or Former Home?

The planet Mars and its unique color are not of interest only to today's people, but it has also been valued by ancient civilizations as well. For instance, the ancient Romans named their god of war "Mars" due to its reddish color and the way it reminded of blood. Additionally, Egyptians named it "Her Desher" which had the meaning of "the red one". However, the recent explorations conducted on the planet Mars have proved its other unique and striking features that are similar to the ones of our current home: the Earth, which raised the question whether there might have been a life in Mars before the Earth. In this post, we are going to provide some possible answers to that question by comparing "the Red Planet Mars" and our one an only home "the Earth" .

The Earth has been the most convenient planet for humanity for thousands of years together with its atmosphere, soil, drinkable water springs, and gravity. All of these have helped the Earth become our home. However, we are unfortunately incapable of protecting the Earth as it protects us from the dangers of space. Due to the damage and extravagant use of the valuable resources of Earth, we have become more into space travel and finding a habitable place in space as in the case of most science fiction movies. Even though the research done so far has not found a future home at least in our solar system, the recent explorations by the rovers called Curiosity and Perseverance interestingly show that there might have been a life in Mars or Mars might have been a habitable planet thousands years ago because they discovered some strikingly similar features between the Red Planet Mars and our current home Earth, and this post is going to discuss those similarities in the following by taking you to an interesting journey to Mars. So, enjoy the ride!

1. Size

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and it is much smaller than the Earth: almost its half size. Although it is much smaller than Earth, one Martian day (24.6 hours) is recorded to last almost the same length as a day on Earth.

A demonstration of solar system and the orbits of Mars and Earth from NASA website (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/our-solar-system/overview/)

2. Temperature and Climate

A photo showing the winter clouds on Mars drifting across the sky from NASA website (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2427/cloudy-skies-on-mars/?category=planets_mars)

Similar to Earth, Mars also has an atmosphere, but this atmosphere is much thinner (around 100 times) than the one on Earth. Therefore, Mars cannot retain heat energy as much as the Earth does. In spite of its thin atmosphere, the temperature on Mars can go up to around 20 °C in a summer day, which is an ideal temperature for human race to survive. However, this number can drastically decreases up to -75 °C during the night, which is even colder than the temperatures recorded around the poles of Earth. However, there are still some places on the Earth as well whose temperatures go below that number such as Dome Fuji ( -93.2°C, Antarctica); Vostok Research Station (-89.2°C, Antarctica); Dome Argus, (-82.5°C, Antarctic Plateau).

3. Geography

Although there is no life on Mars today, Mars can still be considered as a dynamic planet together with its seasons, polar ice caps, canyons, extinct volcanoes.

A photo of an ice-filled crater on Mars taken from NASA website (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2510/ice-filled-crater/?category=planets_mars)

Even though it has been known as the Red Planet by humans, Mars has different colors indeed. The reddish color that we see on its surface is due to rusting of the iron inside the rocks, Martian soil and the dust. Interestingly, the surface of Mars covers almost the same area as the surface of Earth though it is half the size of Earth thanks to its volcanoes, dynamic atmospheric and crustal movements that have lasted for thousands of years.

An infographic used by NASA to show how big the Valles Marineris is (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/mars/in-depth/)

Another interesting fact about the geography of Mars is that it has the largest volcano in the solar system and its name is Olympus Mons. It is almost three times taller than the Everest Mountain on Earth. On the other hand, there is a large canyon system called Valles Marineris. The total length of this system (4,800 kilometers) is as long as the distance between California and New York, and this canyon is estimated to be ten times bigger than the Grand Canyon in the USA when its depth (7 kilometers) and width (320 kilometers) are taken into consideration.

4. Water

Valles Marineris is one of the hugest proof of the fact that Mars was a wetter planet than it is today. There is still water on Mars today; however, the water cannot remain on the surface for long time due to huge temperature differences throughout the day and the thin atmosphere. Water can only be found in the form of ice in the polar regions.

5. Moons

Similar to the moon of Earth, Mars also has two small potato-shaped moons, and their names are Phobos and Deimos.

A video of Hubble recording the touring of Phobos around Mars from NASA website (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2273/hubble-sees-phobos-orbiting-mars/?category=planets_mars)

6. Potential for Life

As being opposed to what most science fiction movies promise, life on Mars seems impossible right now. However, all the geographical findings till now strongly suggest that Mars could be a habitable planet thousands years ago. Maybe the saying “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” could be right. Who knows? 🙂

I hope to meet you in my upcoming posts. Take care 😀

References

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