– LEARNING ABOUT MARS – (by Dr. Ken Grady, 1980) –
->People have always been quite excited about details on Mars because Earth and Mars have many characteristics in common. Just like Earth, Mars turns around itself. It takes Mars twenty-four hours, thirty-seven minutes and twenty-seven seconds to complete one turn, so the day on Mars is a bit longer than ours.
Besides, both planets have similar seasons. Because of these similarities, astronomers were quite sure that there was life on Mars.
In 1877, with the help of improved telescopes, astronomers saw two tiny objects around Mars. Even serious astronomers said these two very small objects were spacecraft. In fact, they were two moons in orbit around Mars.
In the same year, Schiaparelli, a well-known astronomer of the time, drew a map of Mars. Although this was not the first map of Mars, it created a lot of interest among astronomers. The map showed lakes, seas and forests. It also showed narrow lines. Schiaparelli called these lines canali in Italian.
The correct English word for canali is channels, but it came into English as canals (which means man-made
waterways). Because of this mistake people thought that there were living things on Mars and they built these canals to carry water from one place to another.
20 In 1965 the spacecraft Mariner 4 flew past Mars. It did not land on
Mars, but it sent Earth twenty-two photographs. They gave a good idea
of the surface of Mars – a place full of craters and high areas of
volcanic rock. Then in 1971, Mariner 9 discovered four volcanoes on
Mars. They were much larger than the volcanoes here. The largest one,
25 Olympus Mons, was 25 kilometres high and 500 kilometres from side
In 1976, two spacecraft, Viking 1 and Viking 2, landed on the
surface of Mars. Radio signals from Earth controlled the two
spacecraft. Viking 1 and Viking 2 could feel and control their
30 environment. They could also do self-repair. That is, when there was a
problem with a part of the spacecraft, they could repair the damage
;Wng 1 left Cape Canaveral, Florida, for Mars on August 20,
“j. > / 5. It travelled around the sun and it took eleven months to complete
its trip of almost 1,000 million kilometres.
It was very difficult for Viking 1 to find a safe landing place because of the strong winds and the rough rocky surface of Mars. Finally on July 20, 1976, it landed safely on Mars. And Viking 2 landed on Mars on September 3, 1976.
The two Vikings sent a lot of new information to Earth. For example, they discovered the existence of the gases krypton and xenon in the Martian atmosphere. (Astronomers already knew about carbon dioxide,
water vapour, oxygen, nitrogen and argon).
Astronomers feel that many more important discoveries about Mars are possible. They expect to find some form of life there in the future.
In my opinion, they won’t know that for sure until they go to Mars.
MARS GLOBAL SURVEYOR PROJECT
SIMPLE FACT ABOUT MARS
PROMINENT FEATURES OF MARS
INSIDE PLANET MARS
INTEGRATED UNIT OVERWIES “THE SEARCH FOR LIFE ON MARS”
Primary – COGS style unit based around bioastronomy