I Am A Martian on Facebook
I Am A Martian on Facebook: Mars has a 24-hour day. It has polar ice caps. Its axis is tilted compared with its orbit, just as Earth is tilted on its axis. That means Mars goes through seasons, just like Earth. Mars, as cold as it is, is not as oppressive an environment as almost any other place we can think of going in the Solar System. From a runaway greenhouse effect, Venus is 900 degrees Fahrenheit and would melt or vaporize most things you sent to its surface. Mercury is also very hot, being close to the Sun. So when you look at the nearby terrestrial planets, Mars is looking … just right, in spite of the challenges.
While that alone might make a trip to Mars compelling, it’s far from the most compelling reason. We learned in the 1960s that Mars’s surface has features that, as far as we can tell, can only have been made in the presence of water: standing water, running water, deluging water. There are features that look like they’re floodplains. There are riverbeds that are straight and riverbeds that meander. Combine all of this, and you consider how important water is to life on Earth, you can’t help but speculate that Mars was once a really wet place, possibly even harboring life at one point. So much of what drives cosmic exploration involves the quest to learn whether or not we’re alone in the Universe — as an intelligent species, or as life at all. Mars being so close compared with the rest of the cosmos — it’s a slam dunk as a place you want to go visit.