EXPLORE THE WORLDS ABOVE

EXPLORE THE WORLDS ABOVE

LET’S EXPLORE MARS

  • The planet Mars is about half the size of the Earth.
  • Mars is called the Red Planet because rusty iron oxide gives its soil a reddish appearance.
  • A day on Mars is 24 hours, 37 minutes long, almost the same as on Earth.
  • The Grand Canyon of Mars, called Mariner Valley is 2,500 miles long, five miles deep and over 200 miles wide. This is the largest canyon in the Solar System.
  • Mars also has the largest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons. At 16 miles high, it is 3 times taller than Mount Everest.

Perseverance Rover / Ingenuity Helicopter (Mars 2020)
Launch Date: July 15, 2020
Perseverance – the largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world – touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-2020-rover/in-depth/

InSight
Launch Date: May 5, 2018
InSight will investigate the dynamics of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, which could offer clues about such phenomena on Earth. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/insight/in-depth/

Mars Cube One (MarCO)
Launch Date: May 5, 2018
The twin MarCO spacecraft demonstrated the ability of CubeSats to operate far beyond Earth. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-cube-one/in-depth/

Mars Atmospheric and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN)
Launch Date: November 18, 2013
Insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water and planetary habitability by determining how volatiles from the Martian atmosphere have escaped into space over time. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/maven/in-depth/

Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)
Launch Date: November 26, 2011
Building on the success of the two rover geologists that arrived at Mars in January, 2004, NASA’s next rover mission, the Mars Science Laboratory, carrying the Curiosity rover, arrived at Gale Crater on Mars. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/curiosity-msl/in-depth/

Phoenix
Launch Date: August 4, 2007
Phoenix was sent to Mars to search for evidence of past or present microbial life and to study geology and climate on the icy arctic plains of the Martian north pole. Source: solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/phoenix/in-depth/

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Launch Date: August 12, 2005
Now in its fourth mission extension after a two-year prime mission, the orbiter and its suite of powerful instruments are investigating seasonal and longer-term changes on the surface of Mars. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-reconnaissance-orbiter/in-depth/

Opportunity
Launch Date: July 6, 2003
Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/opportunity/in-depth/

Spirit
Launch Date: June 10, 2003
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers—Opportunity and its twin Spirit—were designed to study the history of climate and water at sites on Mars where conditions may once have been favorable to life. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/spirit/in-depth/

Mars Odyssey
Launch Date: April 7, 2001
Still in orbit around Mars, NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft has collected more than 130,000 images and continues to send information to Earth about Martian geology, climate, and mineralogy. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-odyssey/in-depth/

Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2
Launch Date: January 3, 1999
Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 were to explore the Martian ice cap. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-polar-lander-deep-space-2/in-depth/

Mars Pathfinder
Launch Date: December 4, 1996
Mars Pathfinder was the first rover to successfully land on another planet and the first rover on Mars.
Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-pathfinder/in-depth/

Mars Global Surveyor
Launch Date: November 7, 1996
Mars Global Surveyor overhauled our understanding of Mars, including finding evidence water still flows in short bursts down hillside gullies. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-global-surveyor/in-depth/

Viking 2
Launch Date: August 20, 1975
The Viking 2 lander set down on Utopia Planitia and operated until April 1980. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/viking-2/in-depth/

Viking 1
Launch Date: August 20, 1975
Viking 1 was the first successful mission to land on Mars (the Soviet Mars 3 lander survived for a few seconds after landing in 1971, but sent back no science data). Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/viking-1/in-depth/

Mariner 09
Launch Date: May 30, 1971
Mariner 9 was the second in a pair of identical spacecraft launched in 1971 to orbit Mars. The first spacecraft, Mariner 8, failed to reach Earth orbit. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mariner-09/in-depth/

Mariner 07
Launch Date: March 27, 1969
Identical to Mariner 6, Mariner 7 had a similar mission of flying by Mars. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mariner-07/in-depth/

Mariner 06
Launch Date: February 25, 1969
Mariners 6 and 7, identical spacecraft intended to fly by Mars, were the first Mariner spacecraft launched by the Atlas-Centaur, permitting a heavier instrument suite. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mariner-06/in-depth/

Mariner 04
Launch Date: November 28, 1964
The Mariner 4 mission, the second of two Mars flyby attempts in 1964 by NASA, was one of the great early successes of the Agency, returning the very first photos of another planet from deep space. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mariner-04/in-depth/

Mariner 03
Launch Date: November 5, 1964
NASA approved two probes for the Mariner-Mars 1964 project in November 1962. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mariner-03/in-depth/

Source: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Published: October 22, 2018
On Mars the seasonal polar caps are composed of dry ice (carbon dioxide). In the springtime as the sun shines on the ice, it turns from solid to gas and causes erosion of the surface. Dry ice goes directly from solid to vapor, unlike water ice which melts into liquid when it gets warm.
This image shows eroded channels filled with bright ice, in contrast to the muted red of the underlying ground. In the summer the ice will disappear into the atmosphere, leaving just the channels of ghostly spiders carved in the surface.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU/Texas A&M/Navigation camera
Published: May 1, 2019
Historical Date: March 24, 2008
Opportunity turned its rover eyes skyward to observe clouds drifting overhead that look like cirrus clouds on Earth – featherlike formations composed mostly of ice crystals.
By looking at the clouds, Opportunity learns about seasonal and daily weather patterns on Mars. Scientists want to understand how water vapor is transported around the planet. For example, on the extremely cold red planet, surface ice warmed by sunlight can briefly turn to vapor that rises into the atmosphere and then quickly cools to form ice crystals again, either in clouds or back on the ground. Scientists also estimate wind speed and direction based on the movement of the clouds. It definitely gives you the sense of what it might feel like to sit back and watch clouds on Mars.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
Published: March 15, 2018
Martian weather between March 5, 2018 and March 11, 2018:
The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) acquires a global view of the Red Planet and its weather patterns every day.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Published: May 1, 2019
Historical Date: April 24, 2019
Martian Sunrise (Above)
NASA’s InSight lander used its Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on the spacecraft’s robotic arm to image this sunrise on Mars on April 24, 2019, the 145th Martian day (or sol) of the mission. This was taken around 5:30 a.m. Mars local time.

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