Incredible Journey to Mars in Fact & Fiction

Mars Rover Curiosity

Next to Earth, Mars has the most hospitable climate in our solar system. It is thought to have once supported bacteria-like life.

The Crater where the robot Curiosity landed was thought to have been an ocean of sorts.

The climate of Mars has cooled considerably and understanding the conditions on Mars might help us better understand climate change.

A photo of sand dunes thawing on Mars
Seasonal Thawing

Robotic spacecraft were sent past Mars in the 1960’s. The first robot to land on Mars was The Pathfinder in 1997. Photos of volcanoes and chasms taken by the craft started up a new wave of fascination with the planet.

Every 26 months since then, robots have been sent to Mars. Scientists hope to learn about the climate, geology and history of the planet closest to ours.

The fascination has always been there. In the 1870’s, looking through a telescope, Italian astronomer, Giovanni Schiapparelli, found the canals on Mars. That stirred the imagination of businessman, Percival Lowell, who founded an observatory in Arizona to study them.

A canal on Mars. Was this once a riverbed?
The canals of Mars as depicted by Schiaparelli and Lowell
Lowell Observatory

I visited the Lowell Observatory a couple years ago and it was well worth the visit. People going to Arizona should include this in their itinerary. They have a telescope that one can look through which magnifies the moon so much as to make it seem like one is actually there. [Lowell Observatory]

In 1996, Stanford found a meteorite that originated on Mars and it contained fossils of ancient microbes. It was one of the many reasons, scientists became more interested in the possibility of life on Mars and what it could teach us about our own planet’s origins and future.

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Mars has long been fodder of science fiction tales. Take a look at this trailer from 1953.

Check out this curiosity. This photo is factual, not fiction.