Mars has been explored for 20 years. Preparations are underway to send a manned mission there and subsequently to colonise the place. But what do we actually know about this planet?
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. It circulates the central star of our system in two terrestrial years. The length of the Martian day and night cycle, similar to that on the Earth, is 24 hours 39 minutes. Also, very much like on the Earth, seasons change on the Red Planet. The temperatures on the surface of Mars are characterised by their considerable variability. Owing to its greater distance from the Sun, the planet is much cooler than the Earth. The average temperature there is about -25 degrees Celsius
(-13F). On the poles it periodically drops even to -133 degrees Celsius (-207F). Only on the Martian equator does the summertime temperature remind that on the Earth reaching up to +27 degrees Celsius (81F). The pressure on Mars is very low with the planet’s very thin atmosphere. The surface is varied with both desert and mountain areas. Ice caps cover the poles. The planet is one of the extremes: the highest point is the mountain called Mont Olympus and is about 27 km high (that is 3 times more than Mont Everest); the lowest point called Valles Marineris is about 7 km deep.
Scientists consider that iron oxide dust drifting in the atmosphere of the planet is responsible for the red colour of Mars.
Comparison Mars and Earth; Wikipedia source
And at this point one can stop reading. The key facts have already been taken in. And yet, this planet, which ancient Egyptians called Red Horus, is full of mysteries. So I urge you to read on.
Water on Mars
From scientific perspective, with such low temperatures and pressure it is impossible for any liquid water to occur on the surface of Mars. Recently, however, more and more evidence has appeared that water does occur on Mars after all. For years now, probes and robotic exploration vehicles have been looking for traces of H2O, and consequently signs of life. Last year a telescope on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) took pictures of dynamically changing trails on the planet’s surface. With the negative temperature prevalent on Mars it seemed improbable that the trails could be rivers. However, subsequent exploration brought information about high concentration of salt in a flowing substance. Salt has the property of melting ice and the ice most probably comes from glaciers, which melt in the summertime. But there is no information about permanent occurrence of water on the surface of the planet. These are most likely periodical flows of water streams along striations of about 5 metres eroded on cater slopes. Additionally, according to a theory recently put forward by British scientists from the Open University, the Martian water is boiling. The probable cause of that is the low pressure of the planet.
Could life ever existed on Mars?
In many places on Mars deposit layers have been identified similar to those we know from the largest terrestrial lakes. On some areas those deposits are 5 kilometres thick, which proves not only that a dense and warm atmosphere in which water could remain liquid once existed on Mars, but also that water was present there for a very long time, which enabled the same sedimentation process as on the Earth. Thanks to the exploration data gathered by the Curiosity vehicle we know that the Red Planet might not have been red in the past. Water reservoirs may very well have been on the planet’s surface once and the atmosphere must have contained large amounts of oxygen. Evidence to support this claim was provided by rock samples collected by the robotic vehicle at the bottom of the Gale crater. The crater rocks contain a major share of manganese oxide. Two factors were necessary for it to occur: liquid water and a large amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Xipe Xólotl is the Aztec name of Mars, meaning the “planet ripped off its skin”.
One of the greatest mysteries of Mars is its division into two distinct areas: crater-ridden southern highland rising 2 kilometres above the reference point, and the relatively smooth lowland southern lowland situated a kilometre and lower below the reference point. The highland and the lowland occupy respectively the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars….
There are 3 large craters on the surface of the Red Planet (Hellas, Argyre and Isidis), looking like places hit by great missiles. Such an impact on the Earth might annihilate the entire world.
Finally, the Valles Marineris canyon gives the impression of Mars being almost cut in halves. 7 km deep, with the width reaching at places up to 200 km, at one of its ends it becomes a rubble of rocks, valleys and crevices. A large number of deep channels radiate from it. To follow the authors of The Mars Mystery, an amazing characteristic of those canyons, as geologists claim in agreement, is that they might only have come into existence during huge floodings, when hardly imaginable amounts of water rolled over the surface of Mars. What happened then? The loss of water and considerable impoverishment of the planet may only have been entailed by a huge cataclysm – a cosmic disaster that Mars may have experienced. Considering the small distance from the Earth, this may have happened when the ice age suddenly ended with great floods bringing the extinction of many species of animals. These are just theories. It should be remembered, however, that the space “lives”: it creates and destroys. Stars are born and die. Comets, meteorites and other cosmic debris that may threaten the life of the planet rush through the space. Since the beginning of its great civilisation the ancient Egyptians saw the mission and destiny of humanity and inseparably linked to the space and dependent on it. That should be remembered when one looks at night at those little dots in the sky. The history of Mars is a warning.
Mars mysteries – science yes, but what about fiction?
Watching the Red Planet in 1877, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli drafted a map showing diches/canals (canali) on its surface. Photographs taken by Mariner and Viking probes also provided food for thought. Objects which could not have emerged naturally are visible on the planet’s surface. The structures remind the Egyptian pyramids. In some pictures, a face can be recognised or even a regular assembly of objects resembling a town with buildings, streets and a larger structure that brings to mind a fort. Among a cluster of other objects on the plant’s surface there is one which very much resemble the sphinx face. Some of those objects are very similar to the pyramids. As we know, those Martian structures are situated at points of major geodesic significance and show the same properties as the monuments making up the necropolis in Giza. According to NASA, that is merely the play of lights and shadows plus human imagination.
the Martian face, photo of Viking probe, 1976; Wikipedia source
the Martian region Cydonia on which are placed mysterious objects like the city, the pyramids and the face
If on top of that we add the theory that Mars has not always been so red, desert-like and inhospitable, as its atmosphere and landscape once resembled the conditions prevalent on the Earth, then why would not life, developed life have existed there as well? Assuming that it has structures similar to those in Giza, the question springs to mind who created them. A civilisation similar to ours? According to some theories, the inhabitants of Atlantis evacuated after the destruction of their empire not only to other continents on the Earth but also to Mars. There is also the theory that the device used for interplanetary transport shown in the Stargate film and series is not a myth but a fact: a means of transport that was once and maybe still is used by some chosen ones.
The believers in the stargate theory, or in star portals, claim that there is an energetic connection between the pyramids in Giza with those on Mars. The portal in the Cheops pyramid was used by the civilisation on Mars to communicate with the Earth and to wield control. That brings us back again to the plot of the Stargate film, where the aliens considered as gods on Earth control everything through the pyramid which is at the same time a spaceship.
At present the atmosphere on Mars is not inviting to the life on the planet’s surface, at least not for creatures resembling humans. And there is a theory about that as well. Kilometres of corridors and chambers have been built under the planet’s surface. When drafting the map of Mars, Schiaparelli may have presented the canals under the surface, which as a result of being in use (higher temperature) had a colour different from that of the surface. Does in that case the Martian brother of the Giza sphinx protect the entrance to that underground world?
Following this track, there is a probability that people have already reached Mars and live there in underground bases. That is the Martians are humans…
Why then no robotic exploration vehicle sent from the Earth has ever encountered traces of anybody’s presence? And by the way, if actually anybody lives there, they may be annoyed that we are putting junk in their gardens by sending again and again some metal devices digging among carrots in search for ground samples that would confirm the existence of life forms. They do not show up? They do not want us there? Maybe not so much they do not want us as they think that we have not reached civilisational and mental maturity for any contact.
There is a theory that the probes sent to Mars over the past year did record something after all. But that is kept secret from the general public. In 1988 the USSR sent two probes in the vicinity of the Red Planet. One was lost on the way, the other reached its destination. It sent to the Earth a photograph of a large, cigar-shaped object about 25 km long in the vicinity of one of the Mars moons – Phobos. A moment later a trail of light appeared and the image disappeared… hmm…
Is the Red Planet red?
There is a theory that the Red Planet is not red at all. The sky is blue and white like on the Earth, there are seas and oceans on the surface, and consequently steam and oxygen are produced. Therefore, the conditions for normal exist. However, the truth about that is carefully hidden by artificially colouring the surface of Mars in red.
Admittedly, space agencies do not say and do not show everything and do say something inadvertently, they put theories on that, theories on theories, and we, instead to learning more, know less and less and get lost in speculations.
Colonisation of the Red Planet
What was previously possible only in science-fiction books is becoming reality today. In accordance with NASA plans, the first human (or more accurately, four people) is to appear on Mars in 2026. By 2035, the Red Planet is to have 20 settlers.
It is unknown whether the schedules will not have to be shortened, since private initiative is emerging. At the end of April this year Elon Musk – the founder of SpaceX – announced that he was planning a flight to Mars as early as in 2018 (!). The Red Dragon capsule would be used for that purpose.
Red Dragon graphics, SpaceX source
Going to Mars is one thing, but surviving there is a completely different issue. The planet without permanent water, with gravity different from the terrestrial one, with negative temperatures, dust storms blocking access to sun rays that may last even up to several weeks. And on top of that the not very dense cover protecting the planet, causing stronger than on the Earth action of sun rays and not providing any protection from smaller meteorites falling on the surface. All those factors cause such threats as: problem with obtaining water, risk of greater prevalence of cancer, risk of skeletal problems, problems in the functioning of devices, risk of suddenly being hit on the head with space debris and, obviously, risk of depression. It is a series of risks which scientists must eliminate or mitigate. Before humans go to Mars, someone has to come up with an idea how they may function there. Should they get water in the way the Fremen people from F. Herbert’s Dune do? What about farming? One cannot take enough water and food on a spaceship to feed a colony in the long term. That has to be produced on the site and the conditions are not particularly conducive to that. Where would people live? Infrastructure must be built for them – possibly, given the strong radiation on the surface – underground. And once they are settled there, what regime, what religion should be there? After all people need to have everything defined and classified. It may turn out that someone has less of something than someone else and this person’s opinions and beliefs are better so why they do not prevail.
Let us hope that everything will succeed. We will reach another milestone in the development and that people will not convert Mars over time into a heap of junk and radioactive waste, as they did on the Earth.
"Greetings from Mars", source: Julien Mauve / www.julienmauve.com
This document was prepared with the following sources:
- Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, John Grigsby „The Mars Mystery. A Tale of the End of Two Words”, Publisher Prima, Warszawa 2000;
- Dominika Jasińska „Na podbój Marsa“, „Astronomia“ nr 45, marzec 2016;
- Zespół Kosmonauta.net „Dużo tlenu w dawnej atmosferze Marsa?“, „Red Dragon na Marsie już w 2018 roku?“, „Czy marsjańska woda wrze w trakcie płynięcia“ –„Astronimia“ nr 48, czerwiec 2016;
- NASA Webside;