Our resources are limited and it may not be possible to live on planet Earth forever. It is therefore imperative for us to search for the possibility of life on other planets and determine whether we can inhabit those territories. Of all the planet explorations taking place, the findings of planet Mars gives us hope to mankind about the possibility of another livable planet. Here are some of these findings.
How Far Is Mars From The Sun?
Mars has an elliptical orbit around the Sun, so sometimes it is closer to the Sun and sometimes its farther. When its closest, it is approximately 206,600,000 km away
What Are The Gases In The Planet Mars?
The atmosphere consists of mainly of carbon dioxide (95 per cent), argon and nitrogen. Mars has a very thin atmosphere. The suspicion of life on Mars was supported by the stream beds consisting of water, lava and frozen water ice at the poles. So there might even be traces of hydrogen in the planet's atmosphere.
Is There Water On Mars?
Evidence shows that water flowed abundantly on Mars during its first 500 million years of history. There are winding channels and great gorges similar to water cut canyons. One such canyon is the Valles Marineris which is 10 times longer and about four times deeper than the Grand Canyon on Earth.
Where Has The Water Gone?
It is believed that water on Mars dried up, because, at only about half the Earth's diameter, it was unable to retain the heat of its birth for as long. It is the dynamo action of molten material circulating deep inside a planet that creates a magnetic field. This magnetic field shields a planet's atmosphere from the ravages of the million-mile an hour solar wind. Without this magnetic shield, the atmosphere of Mars was quickly stripped away and so liquid water could no longer exist on its surface.
|Phoenix mars lander|
Advanced life forms require liquid water. Since the mid 1960's, studies have shown the presence of frozen water at the Martian poles. Tn recent years, NASA Rover robots on Mars (Mars Pathfinder, The Spirit and Opportunity Rovers and The Phoenix Mars Lander) coupled with data from Mars orbiters proved the previous existence of liquid water on Mars.
|NASA Mars Rover|
Also, from images and techniques used to measure ice levels, it appears that at the polar extremes of the planet there are large amounts of ice. If melted, this ice would lead to an average level of water covering the entire surface by 11 meters high, thereby generating oxygen in the atmosphere thus justifying the probability of life on the Planet.
Why Is Study Of Mars Important As Compared To Other Planets?
The existence of Earth-like life should necessarily be restricted to planets where Earth conditions exist or have existed. Taking a closer look at the other planets, we find Mars to be the only planet that can provide answers.
- WHY NOT VENUS? - With its crushingly high atmospheric surface pressure, lead- melting temperatures and thick carbon dioxide atmosphere that is resistant to sunlight, Venus's surface makes for an extremely unfriendly environment for any robotic lander.
- WHY NOT MERCURY? - Though it might be very much like the moon, half the planet and the satellites in orbit around it are subjected to high solar radiation. The heat from the sun could fry a spacecraft and the radiation could destroy all on board electronics. So nobody can ever live there.
- WHY NOT JUPITER? - The giant gas planet Jupiter is very, very, far away. So with our current and near-future propulsion technology, humans can only reach it in huge colony ships. And once we would get there, we would have only some small, dead moons to live on. So if Jupiter is improbable, then life on SATURN, URANUS and NEPTUNE is just impossible!
How Similar Is Mars To Earth?
- Each planet has roughly the same amount of land surface area. Atmospheric chemistry is relatively similar, at least as Earth is compared to the other planets in the solar system. Both planets have large, sustained polar caps, which is probably made of water ice. Mountains on Mars are much larger than Earth's mountains.
- Mars does not have the same kind of magnetic field as Earth. But evidence collected by the Mars Global Surveyor(MGS) indicates that the planet may have once had a global magnetic field, generated by and internal dynamo. Evidence suggests that the planet's magnetic field reversed direction, or flipped, several times in its early days as conditions in the mantle and core of the planet changed. But the dynamo faded, leaving only faint traces of its magnetic past locked in the Martian crust.
- On earth much of the planets fresh water is locked up in ice covering the two poles. This polar ice and the vast ice sheet covering Greenland in the north may only represents roughly three percent of the overall water contained on Earth, it represents two thirds of all the available fresh water, that is vital to many of the lifeforms found here. Likewise, data now indicate that Mars's northern polar region may contain as much water as that contained on Greenland's ice sheet, a vast tract of frozen water that's up to three kilometres thick in some places.
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