Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war, and is often referred to as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance that is distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.
The days and seasons are likewise comparable to those of Earth, because the rotational period as well as the tilt of the rotational axis relative to the ecliptic plane are very similar. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano and second-highest known mountain in the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris, one of the largest canyons in the Solar System. The smooth Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere covers 40% of the planet and may be a giant impact feature. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. These may be captured asteroids, similar to 5261 Eureka, a Mars trojan.
There are ongoing investigations assessing the past habitability potential of Mars, as well as the possibility of extant life. Future astrobiology missions are planned, including the Mars 2020 and ExoMars rovers. Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to low atmospheric pressure, which is less than 1% of the Earth's, except at the lowest elevations for short periods. The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water. The volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the entire planetary surface to a depth of 11 meters (36 ft). In November 2016, NASA reported finding a large amount of underground ice in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior.
Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye, as can its reddish coloring. Its apparent magnitude reaches −2.94, which is surpassed only by Jupiter, Venus, the Moon, and the Sun. Optical ground-based telescopes are typically limited to resolving features about 300 kilometers (190 mi) across when Earth and Mars are closest because of Earth's atmosphere.
Pictured in natural color in 2007[a]
(154800000 mi; 1.666 AU)
(128400000 mi; 1.382 AU)
(141634900 mi; 1.523679 AU)
(1.88082 yr; 668.5991 sols)
Average orbital speed
(86430 km/h; 53700 mph)
|3389.5 ± 0.2 km[b] |
(2106.1 ± 0.1 mi)
|3396.2 ± 0.1 km[b] |
(2110.3 ± 0.1 mi; 0.533 Earths)
|3376.2 ± 0.1 km[b] |
(2097.9 ± 0.1 mi; 0.531 Earths)
(55907000 sq mi; 0.284 Earths)
(0.1421 lb/cu in)
(12.2072 ft/s2; 0.3794 g)
(18100 km/h; 11250 mph)
Sidereal rotation period
24h 37m 22s
Equatorial rotation velocity
(868.22 km/h; 539.49 mph)
|25.19° to its orbital plane|
North pole right ascension
21h 10m 44s
North pole declination
|−2.94 to +1.86|
|0.636 (0.4–0.87) kPa|
|Composition by volume|
Mars is approximately half the diameter of Earth with a surface area only slightly less than the total area of Earth's dry land. Mars is less dense than Earth, having about 15% of Earth's volume and 11% of Earth's mass, resulting in about 38% of Earth's surface gravity. The red-orange appearance of the Martian surface is caused by iron(III) oxide, or rust. It can look like butterscotch; other common surface colors include golden, brown, tan, and greenish, depending on the minerals present.
Like Earth, Mars has differentiated into a dense metallic core overlaid by less dense materials. Current models of its interior imply a core with a radius of about 1,794 ± 65 kilometers (1,115 ± 40 mi), consisting primarily of iron and nickel with about 16–17% sulfur. This iron(II) sulfide core is thought to be twice as rich in lighter elements as Earth's. The core is surrounded by a silicate mantle that formed many of the tectonic and volcanic features on the planet, but it appears to be dormant. Besides silicon and oxygen, the most abundant elements in the Martian crust are iron, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, and potassium. The average thickness of the planet's crust is about 50 km (31 mi), with a maximum thickness of 125 km (78 mi). Earth's crust averages 40 km (25 mi).
Mars is a terrestrial planet that consists of minerals containing silicon and oxygen, metals, and other elements that typically make up rock. The surface of Mars is primarily composed of tholeiitic basalt, although parts are more silica-rich than typical basalt and may be similar to andesitic rocks on Earth or silica glass. Regions of low albedo suggest concentrations of plagioclase feldspar, with northern low albedo regions displaying higher than normal concentrations of sheet silicates and high-silicon glass. Parts of the southern highlands include detectable amounts of high-calcium pyroxenes. Localized concentrations of hematite and olivine have been found. Much of the surface is deeply covered by finely grained iron(III) oxide dust.
Although Mars has no evidence of a structured global magnetic field, observations show that parts of the planet's crust have been magnetized, suggesting that alternating polarity reversals of its dipole field have occurred in the past. This paleomagnetism of magnetically susceptible minerals is similar to the alternating bands found on Earth's ocean floors. One theory, published in 1999 and re-examined in October 2005 (with the help of the Mars Global Surveyor), is that these bands suggest plate tectonic activity on Mars four billion years ago, before the planetary dynamo ceased to function and the planet's magnetic field faded.
It is thought that, during the Solar System's formation, Mars was created as the result of a stochastic process of run-away accretion of material from the protoplanetary disk that orbited the Sun. Mars has many distinctive chemical features caused by its position in the Solar System. Elements with comparatively low boiling points, such as chlorine, phosphorus, and sulphur, are much more common on Mars than Earth; these elements were probably pushed outward by the young Sun's energetic solar wind.
After the formation of the planets, all were subjected to the so-called "Late Heavy Bombardment". About 60% of the surface of Mars shows a record of impacts from that era, whereas much of the remaining surface is probably underlain by immense impact basins caused by those events. There is evidence of an enormous impact basin in the northern hemisphere of Mars, spanning 10,600 by 8,500 km (6,600 by 5,300 mi), or roughly four times the size of the Moon's South Pole – Aitken basin, the largest impact basin yet discovered. This theory suggests that Mars was struck by a Pluto-sized body about four billion years ago. The event, thought to be the cause of the Martian hemispheric dichotomy, created the smooth Borealis basin that covers 40% of the planet.
Geological activity is still taking place on Mars. The Athabasca Valles is home to sheet-like lava flows created about 200 Mya. Water flows in the grabens called the Cerberus Fossae occurred less than 20 Mya, indicating equally recent volcanic intrusions. On February 19, 2008, images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed evidence of an avalanche from a 700-metre-high (2,300 ft) cliff.
The Phoenix lander returned data showing Martian soil to be slightly alkaline and containing elements such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and chlorine. These nutrients are found in soils on Earth, and they are necessary for growth of plants. Experiments performed by the lander showed that the Martian soil has a basic pH of 7.7, and contains 0.6% of the salt perchlorate. This is a very high concentration and makes the Martian soil toxic (see also Martian soil toxicity).
Streaks are common across Mars and new ones appear frequently on steep slopes of craters, troughs, and valleys. The streaks are dark at first and get lighter with age. The streaks can start in a tiny area, then spread out for hundreds of metres. They have been seen to follow the edges of boulders and other obstacles in their path. The commonly accepted theories include that they are dark underlying layers of soil revealed after avalanches of bright dust or dust devils. Several other explanations have been put forward, including those that involve water or even the growth of organisms.
Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to low atmospheric pressure, which is less than 1% that of Earth's, except at the lowest elevations for short periods. The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water. The volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the entire planetary surface to a depth of 11 meters (36 ft). A permafrost mantle stretches from the pole to latitudes of about 60°. Large quantities of water ice are thought to be trapped within the thick cryosphere of Mars. Radar data from Mars Express and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show large quantities of water ice at both poles (July 2005) and at middle latitudes (November 2008). The Phoenix lander directly sampled water ice in shallow Martian soil on July 31, 2008.
Landforms visible on Mars strongly suggest that liquid water has existed on the planet's surface. Huge linear swathes of scoured ground, known as outflow channels, cut across the surface in about 25 places. These are thought to be a record of erosion caused by the catastrophic release of water from subsurface aquifers, though some of these structures have been hypothesized to result from the action of glaciers or lava. One of the larger examples, Ma'adim Vallis is 700 km (430 mi) long, much greater than the Grand Canyon, with a width of 20 km (12 mi) and a depth of 2 km (1.2 mi) in places. It is thought to have been carved by flowing water early in Mars's history. The youngest of these channels are thought to have formed as recently as only a few million years ago. Elsewhere, particularly on the oldest areas of the Martian surface, finer-scale, dendritic networks of valleys are spread across significant proportions of the landscape. Features of these valleys and their distribution strongly imply that they were carved by runoff resulting from precipitation in early Mars history. Subsurface water flow and groundwater sapping may play important subsidiary roles in some networks, but precipitation was probably the root cause of the incision in almost all cases.
Along crater and canyon walls, there are thousands of features that appear similar to terrestrial gullies. The gullies tend to be in the highlands of the southern hemisphere and to face the Equator; all are poleward of 30° latitude. A number of authors have suggested that their formation process involves liquid water, probably from melting ice, although others have argued for formation mechanisms involving carbon dioxide frost or the movement of dry dust. No partially degraded gullies have formed by weathering and no superimposed impact craters have been observed, indicating that these are young features, possibly still active. Other geological features, such as deltas and alluvial fans preserved in craters, are further evidence for warmer, wetter conditions at an interval or intervals in earlier Mars history. Such conditions necessarily require the widespread presence of crater lakes across a large proportion of the surface, for which there is independent mineralogical, sedimentological and geomorphological evidence.
Further evidence that liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars comes from the detection of specific minerals such as hematite and goethite, both of which sometimes form in the presence of water. In 2004, Opportunity detected the mineral jarosite. This forms only in the presence of acidic water, which demonstrates that water once existed on Mars. More recent evidence for liquid water comes from the finding of the mineral gypsum on the surface by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity in December 2011. It is estimated that the amount of water in the upper mantle of Mars, represented by hydroxyl ions contained within the minerals of Mars's geology, is equal to or greater than that of Earth at 50–300 parts per million of water, which is enough to cover the entire planet to a depth of 200–1,000 m (660–3,280 ft).
In 2005, radar data revealed the presence of large quantities of water ice at the poles and at mid-latitudes. The Mars rover Spirit sampled chemical compounds containing water molecules in March 2007. The Phoenix lander directly sampled water ice in shallow Martian soil on July 31, 2008.
On March 18, 2013, NASA reported evidence from instruments on the Curiosity rover of mineral hydration, likely hydrated calcium sulfate, in several rock samples including the broken fragments of "Tintina" rock and "Sutton Inlier" rock as well as in veins and nodules in other rocks like "Knorr" rock and "Wernicke" rock. Analysis using the rover's DAN instrument provided evidence of subsurface water, amounting to as much as 4% water content, down to a depth of 60 cm (24 in), during the rover's traverse from the Bradbury Landing site to the Yellowknife Bay area in the Glenelg terrain. In September 2015, NASA announced that they had found conclusive evidence of hydrated brine flows on recurring slope lineae, based on spectrometer readings of the darkened areas of slopes. These observations provided confirmation of earlier hypotheses based on timing of formation and their rate of growth, that these dark streaks resulted from water flowing in the very shallow subsurface. The streaks contain hydrated salts, perchlorates, which have water molecules in their crystal structure. The streaks flow downhill in Martian summer, when the temperature is above −23 degrees Celsius, and freeze at lower temperatures. On September 28, 2015, NASA announced the presence of briny flowing salt water on the Martian surface.
Researchers suspect that much of the low northern plains of the planet were covered with an ocean hundreds of meters deep, though this remains controversial. In March 2015, scientists stated that such an ocean might have been the size of Earth's Arctic Ocean. This finding was derived from the ratio of water to deuterium in the modern Martian atmosphere compared to that ratio on Earth. The amount of Martian deuterium is eight times the amount that exists on Earth, suggesting that ancient Mars had significantly higher levels of water. Results from the Curiosity rover had previously found a high ratio of deuterium in Gale Crater, though not significantly high enough to suggest the former presence of an ocean. Other scientists caution that these results have not been confirmed, and point out that Martian climate models have not yet shown that the planet was warm enough in the past to support bodies of liquid water.
Near the northern polar cap is the 81.4 kilometres (50.6 mi) wide Korolev Crater, where the Mars Express orbiter found it to be filled with approximately 2,200 cubic kilometres (530 cu mi) of water ice. The crater floor lies about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) below the rim, and is covered by a 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) deep central mound of permanent water ice, up to 60 kilometres (37 mi) in diameter.
Mars has two permanent polar ice caps. During a pole's winter, it lies in continuous darkness, chilling the surface and causing the deposition of 25–30% of the atmosphere into slabs of CO2 ice (dry ice). When the poles are again exposed to sunlight, the frozen CO2 sublimes. These seasonal actions transport large amounts of dust and water vapor, giving rise to Earth-like frost and large cirrus clouds. Clouds of water-ice were photographed by the Opportunity rover in 2004.
The caps at both poles consist primarily (70%) of water ice. Frozen carbon dioxide accumulates as a comparatively thin layer about one metre thick on the north cap in the northern winter only, whereas the south cap has a permanent dry ice cover about eight metres thick. This permanent dry ice cover at the south pole is peppered by flat floored, shallow, roughly circular pits, which repeat imaging shows are expanding by meters per year; this suggests that the permanent CO2 cover over the south pole water ice is degrading over time. The northern polar cap has a diameter of about 1,000 km (620 mi) during the northern Mars summer, and contains about 1.6 million cubic kilometres (380,000 cu mi) of ice, which, if spread evenly on the cap, would be 2 km (1.2 mi) thick. (This compares to a volume of 2.85 million cubic kilometres (680,000 cu mi) for the Greenland ice sheet.) The southern polar cap has a diameter of 350 km (220 mi) and a thickness of 3 km (1.9 mi). The total volume of ice in the south polar cap plus the adjacent layered deposits has been estimated at 1.6 million cubic km. Both polar caps show spiral troughs, which recent analysis of SHARAD ice penetrating radar has shown are a result of katabatic winds that spiral due to the Coriolis Effect.
The seasonal frosting of areas near the southern ice cap results in the formation of transparent 1-metre-thick slabs of dry ice above the ground. With the arrival of spring, sunlight warms the subsurface and pressure from subliming CO2 builds up under a slab, elevating and ultimately rupturing it. This leads to geyser-like eruptions of CO2 gas mixed with dark basaltic sand or dust. This process is rapid, observed happening in the space of a few days, weeks or months, a rate of change rather unusual in geology – especially for Mars. The gas rushing underneath a slab to the site of a geyser carves a spiderweb-like pattern of radial channels under the ice, the process being the inverted equivalent of an erosion network formed by water draining through a single plughole.
Although better remembered for mapping the Moon, Johann Heinrich Mädler and Wilhelm Beer were the first "areographers". They began by establishing that most of Mars's surface features were permanent and by more precisely determining the planet's rotation period. In 1840, Mädler combined ten years of observations and drew the first map of Mars. Rather than giving names to the various markings, Beer and Mädler simply designated them with letters; Meridian Bay (Sinus Meridiani) was thus feature "a".
Today, features on Mars are named from a variety of sources. Albedo features are named for classical mythology. Craters larger than 60 km are named for deceased scientists and writers and others who have contributed to the study of Mars. Craters smaller than 60 km are named for towns and villages of the world with populations of less than 100,000. Large valleys are named for the word "Mars" or "star" in various languages; small valleys are named for rivers.
Large albedo features retain many of the older names, but are often updated to reflect new knowledge of the nature of the features. For example, Nix Olympica (the snows of Olympus) has become Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus). The surface of Mars as seen from Earth is divided into two kinds of areas, with differing albedo. The paler plains covered with dust and sand rich in reddish iron oxides were once thought of as Martian "continents" and given names like Arabia Terra (land of Arabia) or Amazonis Planitia (Amazonian plain). The dark features were thought to be seas, hence their names Mare Erythraeum, Mare Sirenum and Aurorae Sinus. The largest dark feature seen from Earth is Syrtis Major Planum. The permanent northern polar ice cap is named Planum Boreum, whereas the southern cap is called Planum Australe.
Mars's equator is defined by its rotation, but the location of its Prime Meridian was specified, as was Earth's (at Greenwich), by choice of an arbitrary point; Mädler and Beer selected a line for their first maps of Mars in 1830. After the spacecraft Mariner 9 provided extensive imagery of Mars in 1972, a small crater (later called Airy-0), located in the Sinus Meridiani ("Middle Bay" or "Meridian Bay"), was chosen for the definition of 0.0° longitude to coincide with the original selection.
Because Mars has no oceans and hence no "sea level", a zero-elevation surface had to be selected as a reference level; this is called the areoid of Mars, analogous to the terrestrial geoid. Zero altitude was defined by the height at which there is 610.5 Pa (6.105 mbar) of atmospheric pressure. This pressure corresponds to the triple point of water, and it is about 0.6% of the sea level surface pressure on Earth (0.006 atm). In practice, today this surface is defined directly from satellite gravity measurements.
For mapping purposes, the United States Geological Survey divides the surface of Mars into thirty "quadrangles", each named for a prominent physiographic feature within that quadrangle. The quadrangles can be seen and explored via the interactive image map below.
The dichotomy of Martian topography is striking: northern plains flattened by lava flows contrast with the southern highlands, pitted and cratered by ancient impacts. Research in 2008 has presented evidence regarding a theory proposed in 1980 postulating that, four billion years ago, the northern hemisphere of Mars was struck by an object one-tenth to two-thirds the size of Earth's Moon. If validated, this would make the northern hemisphere of Mars the site of an impact crater 10,600 by 8,500 km (6,600 by 5,300 mi) in size, or roughly the area of Europe, Asia, and Australia combined, surpassing the South Pole–Aitken basin as the largest impact crater in the Solar System.
Mars is scarred by a number of impact craters: a total of 43,000 craters with a diameter of 5 km (3.1 mi) or greater have been found. The largest confirmed of these is the Hellas impact basin, a light albedo feature clearly visible from Earth. Due to the smaller mass of Mars, the probability of an object colliding with the planet is about half that of Earth. Mars is located closer to the asteroid belt, so it has an increased chance of being struck by materials from that source. Mars is more likely to be struck by short-period comets, i.e., those that lie within the orbit of Jupiter. In spite of this, there are far fewer craters on Mars compared with the Moon, because the atmosphere of Mars provides protection against small meteors and surface modifying processes have erased some craters.
Martian craters can have a morphology that suggests the ground became wet after the meteor impacted.
The shield volcano Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus) is an extinct volcano in the vast upland region Tharsis, which contains several other large volcanoes. Olympus Mons is roughly three times the height of Mount Everest, which in comparison stands at just over 8.8 km (5.5 mi). It is either the tallest or second-tallest mountain in the Solar System, depending on how it is measured, with various sources giving figures ranging from about 21 to 27 km (13 to 17 mi) high.
The large canyon, Valles Marineris (Latin for "Mariner Valleys", also known as Agathadaemon in the old canal maps), has a length of 4,000 km (2,500 mi) and a depth of up to 7 km (4.3 mi). The length of Valles Marineris is equivalent to the length of Europe and extends across one-fifth the circumference of Mars. By comparison, the Grand Canyon on Earth is only 446 km (277 mi) long and nearly 2 km (1.2 mi) deep. Valles Marineris was formed due to the swelling of the Tharsis area, which caused the crust in the area of Valles Marineris to collapse. In 2012, it was proposed that Valles Marineris is not just a graben, but a plate boundary where 150 km (93 mi) of transverse motion has occurred, making Mars a planet with possibly a two-tectonic plate arrangement.
Images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter have revealed seven possible cave entrances on the flanks of the volcano Arsia Mons. The caves, named after loved ones of their discoverers, are collectively known as the "seven sisters". Cave entrances measure from 100 to 252 m (328 to 827 ft) wide and they are estimated to be at least 73 to 96 m (240 to 315 ft) deep. Because light does not reach the floor of most of the caves, it is possible that they extend much deeper than these lower estimates and widen below the surface. "Dena" is the only exception; its floor is visible and was measured to be 130 m (430 ft) deep. The interiors of these caverns may be protected from micrometeoroids, UV radiation, solar flares and high energy particles that bombard the planet's surface.
Mars lost its magnetosphere 4 billion years ago, possibly because of numerous asteroid strikes, so the solar wind interacts directly with the Martian ionosphere, lowering the atmospheric density by stripping away atoms from the outer layer. Both Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Express have detected ionised atmospheric particles trailing off into space behind Mars, and this atmospheric loss is being studied by the MAVEN orbiter. Compared to Earth, the atmosphere of Mars is quite rarefied. Atmospheric pressure on the surface today ranges from a low of 30 Pa (0.030 kPa) on Olympus Mons to over 1,155 Pa (1.155 kPa) in Hellas Planitia, with a mean pressure at the surface level of 600 Pa (0.60 kPa). The highest atmospheric density on Mars is equal to that found 35 km (22 mi) above Earth's surface. The resulting mean surface pressure is only 0.6% of that of Earth (101.3 kPa). The scale height of the atmosphere is about 10.8 km (6.7 mi), which is higher than Earth's, 6 km (3.7 mi), because the surface gravity of Mars is only about 38% of Earth's, an effect offset by both the lower temperature and 50% higher average molecular weight of the atmosphere of Mars.
The atmosphere of Mars consists of about 96% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon and 1.89% nitrogen along with traces of oxygen and water. The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing particulates about 1.5 µm in diameter which give the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface. It may take on a pink hue due to iron oxide particles suspended in it.
Methane has been detected in the Martian atmosphere; it occurs in extended plumes, and the profiles imply that the methane is released from discrete regions. The concentration of methane fluctuates from about 0.24 ppb during the northern winter to about 0.65 ppb during the summer. In northern midsummer 2003, the principal plume contained 19,000 metric tons of methane, with an estimated source strength of 0.6 kilograms per second. The profiles suggest that there may be two local source regions, the first centered near and the second near . It is estimated that Mars must produce 270 tonnes per year of methane.
Methane can exist in the Martian atmosphere for only a limited period before it is destroyed—estimates of its lifetime range from 0.6–4 years. Its presence despite this short lifetime indicates that an active source of the gas must be present. Volcanic activity, cometary impacts, and the presence of methanogenic microbial life forms are among possible sources. Methane could be produced by a non-biological process called serpentinization[c] involving water, carbon dioxide, and the mineral olivine, which is known to be common on Mars.
The Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in August 2012, is able to make measurements that distinguish between different isotopologues of methane, but even if the mission is to determine that microscopic Martian life is the source of the methane, the life forms likely reside far below the surface, outside of the rover's reach. The first measurements with the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) indicated that there is less than 5 ppb of methane at the landing site at the point of the measurement. On September 19, 2013, NASA scientists, from further measurements by Curiosity, reported no detection of atmospheric methane with a measured value of 0.18±0.67 ppbv corresponding to an upper limit of only 1.3 ppbv (95% confidence limit) and, as a result, conclude that the probability of current methanogenic microbial activity on Mars is reduced.
The Mars Orbiter Mission by India is searching for methane in the atmosphere, while the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched in 2016, would further study the methane as well as its decomposition products, such as formaldehyde and methanol. During measurements lasting from April to August 2018, the satellite failed to detect any atmospheric methane, hinting at a new and hitherto unknown process by which CH4 is rapidly removed from the atmosphere in a short space of time.
On December 16, 2014, NASA reported the Curiosity rover detected a "tenfold spike", likely localized, in the amount of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Sample measurements taken "a dozen times over 20 months" showed increases in late 2013 and early 2014, averaging "7 parts of methane per billion in the atmosphere." Before and after that, readings averaged around one-tenth that level.
Ammonia was tentatively detected on Mars by the Mars Express satellite, but with its relatively short lifetime, it is not clear what produced it. Ammonia is not stable in the Martian atmosphere and breaks down after a few hours. One possible source is volcanic activity.
In September 2017, NASA reported radiation levels on the surface of the planet Mars were temporarily doubled, and were associated with an aurora 25 times brighter than any observed earlier, due to a massive, and unexpected, solar storm in the middle of the month.
In 1994, the European Space Agency's Mars Express found an ultraviolet glow coming from "magnetic umbrellas" in the southern hemisphere. Mars does not have a global magnetic field which guides charged particles entering the atmosphere. Mars has multiple umbrella-shaped magnetic fields mainly in the southern hemisphere, which are remnants of a global field that decayed billions of years ago.
In late December 2014, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft detected evidence of widespread auroras in Mars's northern hemisphere and descended to approximately 20–30 degrees North latitude of Mars's equator. The particles causing the aurora penetrated into the Martian atmosphere, creating auroras below 100 km above the surface, Earth's auroras range from 100 km to 500 km above the surface. Magnetic fields in the solar wind drape over Mars, into the atmosphere, and the charged particles follow the solar wind magnetic field lines into the atmosphere, causing auroras to occur outside the magnetic umbrellas.
Of all the planets in the Solar System, the seasons of Mars are the most Earth-like, due to the similar tilts of the two planets' rotational axes. The lengths of the Martian seasons are about twice those of Earth's because Mars's greater distance from the Sun leads to the Martian year being about two Earth years long. Martian surface temperatures vary from lows of about −143 °C (−225 °F) at the winter polar caps to highs of up to 35 °C (95 °F) in equatorial summer. The wide range in temperatures is due to the thin atmosphere which cannot store much solar heat, the low atmospheric pressure, and the low thermal inertia of Martian soil. The planet is 1.52 times as far from the Sun as Earth, resulting in just 43% of the amount of sunlight.
If Mars had an Earth-like orbit, its seasons would be similar to Earth's because its axial tilt is similar to Earth's. The comparatively large eccentricity of the Martian orbit has a significant effect. Mars is near perihelion when it is summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the north, and near aphelion when it is winter in the southern hemisphere and summer in the north. As a result, the seasons in the southern hemisphere are more extreme and the seasons in the northern are milder than would otherwise be the case. The summer temperatures in the south can be warmer than the equivalent summer temperatures in the north by up to 30 °C (54 °F).
Mars has the largest dust storms in the Solar System, reaching speeds of over 160 km/h (100 mph). These can vary from a storm over a small area, to gigantic storms that cover the entire planet. They tend to occur when Mars is closest to the Sun, and have been shown to increase the global temperature.
Mars's average distance from the Sun is roughly 230 million km (143 million mi), and its orbital period is 687 (Earth) days. The solar day (or sol) on Mars is only slightly longer than an Earth day: 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds. A Martian year is equal to 1.8809 Earth years, or 1 year, 320 days, and 18.2 hours.
The axial tilt of Mars is 25.19 degrees relative to its orbital plane, which is similar to the axial tilt of Earth. As a result, Mars has seasons like Earth, though on Mars they are nearly twice as long because its orbital period is that much longer. In the present day epoch, the orientation of the north pole of Mars is close to the star Deneb.
Mars has a relatively pronounced orbital eccentricity of about 0.09; of the seven other planets in the Solar System, only Mercury has a larger orbital eccentricity. It is known that in the past, Mars has had a much more circular orbit. At one point, 1.35 million Earth years ago, Mars had an eccentricity of roughly 0.002, much less than that of Earth today. Mars's cycle of eccentricity is 96,000 Earth years compared to Earth's cycle of 100,000 years. Mars has a much longer cycle of eccentricity, with a period of 2.2 million Earth years, and this overshadows the 96,000-year cycle in the eccentricity graphs. For the last 35,000 years, the orbit of Mars has been getting slightly more eccentric because of the gravitational effects of the other planets. The closest distance between Earth and Mars will continue to mildly decrease for the next 25,000 years.
The current understanding of planetary habitability—the ability of a world to develop environmental conditions favorable to the emergence of life—favors planets that have liquid water on their surface. Most often this requires the orbit of a planet to lie within the habitable zone, which for the Sun extends from just beyond Venus to about the semi-major axis of Mars. During perihelion, Mars dips inside this region, but Mars's thin (low-pressure) atmosphere prevents liquid water from existing over large regions for extended periods. The past flow of liquid water demonstrates the planet's potential for habitability. Recent evidence has suggested that any water on the Martian surface may have been too salty and acidic to support regular terrestrial life.
The lack of a magnetosphere and the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars are a challenge: the planet has little heat transfer across its surface, poor insulation against bombardment of the solar wind and insufficient atmospheric pressure to retain water in a liquid form (water instead sublimes to a gaseous state). Mars is nearly, or perhaps totally, geologically dead; the end of volcanic activity has apparently stopped the recycling of chemicals and minerals between the surface and interior of the planet.
In situ investigations have been performed on Mars by the Viking landers, Spirit and Opportunity rovers, Phoenix lander, and Curiosity rover. Evidence suggests that the planet was once significantly more habitable than it is today, but whether living organisms ever existed there remains unknown. The Viking probes of the mid-1970s carried experiments designed to detect microorganisms in Martian soil at their respective landing sites and had positive results, including a temporary increase of CO
2 production on exposure to water and nutrients. This sign of life was later disputed by scientists, resulting in a continuing debate, with NASA scientist Gilbert Levin asserting that Viking may have found life. A re-analysis of the Viking data, in light of modern knowledge of extremophile forms of life, has suggested that the Viking tests were not sophisticated enough to detect these forms of life. The tests could even have killed a (hypothetical) life form. Tests conducted by the Phoenix Mars lander have shown that the soil has a alkaline pH and it contains magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. The soil nutrients may be able to support life, but life would still have to be shielded from the intense ultraviolet light. A recent analysis of martian meteorite EETA79001 found 0.6 ppm ClO−
4, 1.4 ppm ClO−
3, and 16 ppm NO−
3, most likely of Martian origin. The ClO−
3 suggests the presence of other highly oxidizing oxychlorines, such as ClO−
2 or ClO, produced both by UV oxidation of Cl and X-ray radiolysis of ClO−
4. Thus, only highly refractory and/or well-protected (sub-surface) organics or life forms are likely to survive.
A 2014 analysis of the Phoenix WCL showed that the Ca(ClO
2 in the Phoenix soil has not interacted with liquid water of any form, perhaps for as long as 600 Myr. If it had, the highly soluble Ca(ClO
2 in contact with liquid water would have formed only CaSO
4. This suggests a severely arid environment, with minimal or no liquid water interaction.
Scientists have proposed that carbonate globules found in meteorite ALH84001, which is thought to have originated from Mars, could be fossilized microbes extant on Mars when the meteorite was blasted from the Martian surface by a meteor strike some 15 million years ago. This proposal has been met with skepticism, and an exclusively inorganic origin for the shapes has been proposed.
Small quantities of methane and formaldehyde detected by Mars orbiters are both claimed to be possible evidence for life, as these chemical compounds would quickly break down in the Martian atmosphere. Alternatively, these compounds may instead be replenished by volcanic or other geological means, such as serpentinization.
Impact glass, formed by the impact of meteors, which on Earth can preserve signs of life, has been found on the surface of the impact craters on Mars. Likewise, the glass in impact craters on Mars could have preserved signs of life if life existed at the site.
In May 2017, evidence of the earliest known life on land on Earth may have been found in 3.48-billion-year-old geyserite and other related mineral deposits (often found around hot springs and geysers) uncovered in the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia. These findings may be helpful in deciding where best to search for early signs of life on the planet Mars.
In early 2018, media reports speculated that certain rock features at a site called Jura looked like a type of fossil, but project scientists say the formations likely resulted from a geological process at the bottom of an ancient drying lakebed, and are related to mineral veins in the area similar to gypsum crystals.
On June 7, 2018, NASA announced that the Curiosity rover had discovered organic compounds in sedimentary rocks dating to three billion years old, indicating that some of the building blocks for life were present.
In July 2018, scientists reported the discovery of a subglacial lake on Mars, the first known stable body of water on the planet. It sits 1.5 km (0.9 mi) below the surface at the base of the southern polar ice cap and is about 20 km (12 mi) wide. The lake was discovered using the MARSIS radar on board the Mars Express orbiter, and the profiles were collected between May 2012 and December 2015. The lake is centered at 193°E, 81°S, a flat area that does not exhibit any peculiar topographic characteristics. It is mostly surrounded by higher ground except on its eastern side, where there is a depression.
Mars has two relatively small (compared to Earth's) natural moons, Phobos (about 22 km (14 mi) in diameter) and Deimos (about 12 km (7.5 mi) in diameter), which orbit close to the planet. Asteroid capture is a long-favored theory, but their origin remains uncertain. Both satellites were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall; they are named after the characters Phobos (panic/fear) and Deimos (terror/dread), who, in Greek mythology, accompanied their father Ares, god of war, into battle. Mars was the Roman counterpart of Ares. In modern Greek, the planet retains its ancient name Ares (Aris: Άρης).
From the surface of Mars, the motions of Phobos and Deimos appear different from that of the Moon. Phobos rises in the west, sets in the east, and rises again in just 11 hours. Deimos, being only just outside synchronous orbit – where the orbital period would match the planet's period of rotation – rises as expected in the east but slowly. Despite the 30-hour orbit of Deimos, 2.7 days elapse between its rise and set for an equatorial observer, as it slowly falls behind the rotation of Mars.
Because the orbit of Phobos is below synchronous altitude, the tidal forces from the planet Mars are gradually lowering its orbit. In about 50 million years, it could either crash into Mars's surface or break up into a ring structure around the planet.
The origin of the two moons is not well understood. Their low albedo and carbonaceous chondrite composition have been regarded as similar to asteroids, supporting the capture theory. The unstable orbit of Phobos would seem to point towards a relatively recent capture. But both have circular orbits, near the equator, which is unusual for captured objects and the required capture dynamics are complex. Accretion early in the history of Mars is plausible, but would not account for a composition resembling asteroids rather than Mars itself, if that is confirmed.
A third possibility is the involvement of a third body or a type of impact disruption. More-recent lines of evidence for Phobos having a highly porous interior, and suggesting a composition containing mainly phyllosilicates and other minerals known from Mars, point toward an origin of Phobos from material ejected by an impact on Mars that reaccreted in Martian orbit, similar to the prevailing theory for the origin of Earth's moon. Although the VNIR spectra of the moons of Mars resemble those of outer-belt asteroids, the thermal infrared spectra of Phobos are reported to be inconsistent with chondrites of any class.
Mars may have moons smaller than 50 to 100 metres (160 to 330 ft) in diameter, and a dust ring is predicted to exist between Phobos and Deimos.
Dozens of crewless spacecraft, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, have been sent to Mars by the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, and India to study the planet's surface, climate, and geology.
As of 2018, Mars is host to eight functioning spacecraft: six in orbit—2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Orbiter Mission and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter—and two on the surface—Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity (rover) and InSight (lander). Another rover, Opportunity, is inactive now, but NASA still hopes to reestablish contact with it. The public can request images of Mars via the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiWish program.
The Mars Science Laboratory, named Curiosity, launched on November 26, 2011, and reached Mars on August 6, 2012 UTC. It is larger and more advanced than the Mars Exploration Rovers, with a movement rate up to 90 m (300 ft) per hour. Experiments include a laser chemical sampler that can deduce the make-up of rocks at a distance of 7 m (23 ft). On February 10, 2013, the Curiosity rover obtained the first deep rock samples ever taken from another planetary body, using its on-board drill. The same year, it discovered that Mars's soil contains between 1.5% and 3% water by mass (albeit attached to other compounds and thus not freely accessible). Observations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had previously revealed the possibility of flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.
On September 24, 2014, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation, reached Mars orbit. ISRO launched MOM on November 5, 2013, with the aim of analyzing the Martian atmosphere and topography. The Mars Orbiter Mission used a Hohmann transfer orbit to escape Earth's gravitational influence and catapult into a nine-month-long voyage to Mars. The mission is the first successful Asian interplanetary mission.
The European Space Agency, in collaboration with Roscosmos, launched the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander on March 14, 2016. While the Trace Gas Orbiter successfully entered Mars orbit on October 19, 2016, Schiaparelli crashed during its landing attempt.
In May 2018 NASA's InSight lander was launched, along with the twin MarCO CubeSats that will fly by Mars and provide a telemetry relay for the landing. The mission arrived at Mars in November 2018. NASA plans to launch its Mars 2020 astrobiology rover in July or August 2020.
Several plans for a human mission to Mars have been proposed throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, but no active plan has an arrival date sooner than the 2020s. SpaceX founder Elon Musk presented a plan in September 2016 to, optimistically, launch space tourists to Mars in 2024 at an estimated development cost of US$10 billion. In October 2016, President Barack Obama renewed U.S. policy to pursue the goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s, and to continue using the International Space Station as a technology incubator in that pursuit. The NASA Authorization Act of 2017 directed NASA to get humans near or on the surface of Mars by the early 2030s.
With the presence of various orbiters, landers, and rovers, it is possible to practice astronomy from Mars. Although Mars's moon Phobos appears about one-third the angular diameter of the full moon on Earth, Deimos appears more or less star-like, looking only slightly brighter than Venus does from Earth.
Various phenomena seen from Earth have also been observed from Mars, such as meteors and auroras. The apparent sizes of the moons Phobos and Deimos are sufficiently smaller than that of the Sun; thus, their partial "eclipses" of the Sun are best considered transits (see transit of Deimos and Phobos from Mars). Transits of Mercury and Venus have been observed from Mars. A transit of Earth will be seen from Mars on November 10, 2084.
The mean apparent magnitude of Mars is +0.71 with a standard deviation of 1.05. Because the orbit of Mars is eccentric, the magnitude at opposition from the Sun can range from about −3.0 to −1.4. The minimum brightness is magnitude +1.86 when the planet is in conjunction with the Sun. At its brightest, Mars (along with Jupiter) are second only to Venus in luminosity. Mars usually appears distinctly yellow, orange, or red. NASA's Spirit rover has taken pictures of a greenish-brown, mud-colored landscape with blue-grey rocks and patches of light red sand. When farthest away from Earth, it is more than seven times farther away than when it is closest. When least favorably positioned, it can be lost in the Sun's glare for months at a time. At its most favorable times—at 15- or 17-year intervals, and always between late July and late September—a lot of surface detail can be seen with a telescope. Especially noticeable, even at low magnification, are the polar ice caps.
As Mars approaches opposition, it begins a period of retrograde motion, which means it will appear to move backwards in a looping motion with respect to the background stars. The duration of this retrograde motion lasts for about 72 days, and Mars reaches its peak luminosity in the middle of this motion.
The point at which Mars's geocentric longitude is 180° different from the Sun's is known as opposition, which is near the time of closest approach to Earth. The time of opposition can occur as much as 8.5 days away from the closest approach. The distance at close approach varies between about 54 and 103 million km (34 and 64 million mi) due to the planets' elliptical orbits, which causes comparable variation in angular size. The last Mars opposition occurred on July 27, 2018, at a distance of about 58 million km (36 million mi). The next Mars opposition occurs on October 13, 2020, at a distance of about 63 million km (39 million mi). The average time between the successive oppositions of Mars, its synodic period, is 780 days; but the number of days between the dates of successive oppositions can range from 764 to 812.
As Mars approaches opposition it begins a period of retrograde motion, which makes it appear to move backwards in a looping motion relative to the background stars. The duration of this retrograde motion is about 72 days.
Mars made its closest approach to Earth and maximum apparent brightness in nearly 60,000 years, 55,758,006 km (0.37271925 AU; 34,646,419 mi), magnitude −2.88, on August 27, 2003, at 9:51:13 UTC. This occurred when Mars was one day from opposition and about three days from its perihelion, making it particularly easy to see from Earth. The last time it came so close is estimated to have been on September 12, 57,617 BC, the next time being in 2287. This record approach was only slightly closer than other recent close approaches. For instance, the minimum distance on August 22, 1924, was 0.37285 AU, and the minimum distance on August 24, 2208, will be 0.37279 AU.
The history of observations of Mars is marked by the oppositions of Mars, when the planet is closest to Earth and hence is most easily visible, which occur every couple of years. Even more notable are the perihelic oppositions of Mars, which occur every 15 or 17 years and are distinguished because Mars is close to perihelion, making it even closer to Earth.
The ancient Sumerians believed that Mars was Nergal, the god of war and plague. During Sumerian times, Nergal was a minor deity of little significance, but, during later times, his main cult center was the city of Nineveh. In Mesopotamian texts, Mars is referred to as the "star of judgement of the fate of the dead". The existence of Mars as a wandering object in the night sky was recorded by the ancient Egyptian astronomers and, by 1534 BCE, they were familiar with the retrograde motion of the planet. By the period of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Babylonian astronomers were making regular records of the positions of the planets and systematic observations of their behavior. For Mars, they knew that the planet made 37 synodic periods, or 42 circuits of the zodiac, every 79 years. They invented arithmetic methods for making minor corrections to the predicted positions of the planets. In Ancient Greek, the planet was known as Πυρόεις.
In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle noted that Mars disappeared behind the Moon during an occultation, indicating that the planet was farther away. Ptolemy, a Greek living in Alexandria, attempted to address the problem of the orbital motion of Mars. Ptolemy's model and his collective work on astronomy was presented in the multi-volume collection Almagest, which became the authoritative treatise on Western astronomy for the next fourteen centuries. Literature from ancient China confirms that Mars was known by Chinese astronomers by no later than the fourth century BCE. In the fifth century CE, the Indian astronomical text Surya Siddhanta estimated the diameter of Mars. In the East Asian cultures, Mars is traditionally referred to as the "fire star" (Chinese: 火星), based on the Five elements.
During the seventeenth century, Tycho Brahe measured the diurnal parallax of Mars that Johannes Kepler used to make a preliminary calculation of the relative distance to the planet. When the telescope became available, the diurnal parallax of Mars was again measured in an effort to determine the Sun-Earth distance. This was first performed by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1672. The early parallax measurements were hampered by the quality of the instruments. The only occultation of Mars by Venus observed was that of October 13, 1590, seen by Michael Maestlin at Heidelberg. In 1610, Mars was viewed by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was first to see it via telescope. The first person to draw a map of Mars that displayed any terrain features was the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens.
By the 19th century, the resolution of telescopes reached a level sufficient for surface features to be identified. A perihelic opposition of Mars occurred on September 5, 1877. In that year, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli used a 22 cm (8.7 in) telescope in Milan to help produce the first detailed map of Mars. These maps notably contained features he called canali, which were later shown to be an optical illusion. These canali were supposedly long, straight lines on the surface of Mars, to which he gave names of famous rivers on Earth. His term, which means "channels" or "grooves", was popularly mistranslated in English as "canals".
Influenced by the observations, the orientalist Percival Lowell founded an observatory which had 30 and 45 cm (12 and 18 in) telescopes. The observatory was used for the exploration of Mars during the last good opportunity in 1894 and the following less favorable oppositions. He published several books on Mars and life on the planet, which had a great influence on the public. The canali were independently found by other astronomers, like Henri Joseph Perrotin and Louis Thollon in Nice, using one of the largest telescopes of that time.
The seasonal changes (consisting of the diminishing of the polar caps and the dark areas formed during Martian summer) in combination with the canals led to speculation about life on Mars, and it was a long-held belief that Mars contained vast seas and vegetation. The telescope never reached the resolution required to give proof to any speculations. As bigger telescopes were used, fewer long, straight canali were observed. During an observation in 1909 by Flammarion with an 84 cm (33 in) telescope, irregular patterns were observed, but no canali were seen.
Even in the 1960s articles were published on Martian biology, putting aside explanations other than life for the seasonal changes on Mars. Detailed scenarios for the metabolism and chemical cycles for a functional ecosystem have been published.
Once spacecraft visited the planet during NASA's Mariner missions in the 1960s and 70s, these concepts were radically broken. The results of the Viking life-detection experiments aided an intermission in which the hypothesis of a hostile, dead planet was generally accepted.
Mariner 9 and Viking allowed better maps of Mars to be made using the data from these missions, and another major leap forward was the Mars Global Surveyor mission, launched in 1996 and operated until late 2006, that allowed complete, extremely detailed maps of the Martian topography, magnetic field and surface minerals to be obtained. These maps are available online; for example, at Google Mars. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Express continued exploring with new instruments, and supporting lander missions. NASA provides two online tools: Mars Trek, which provides visualizations of the planet using data from 50 years of exploration, and Experience Curiosity, which simulates traveling on Mars in 3-D with Curiosity.
Mars is named after the Roman god of war. In different cultures, Mars represents masculinity and youth. Its symbol, a circle with an arrow pointing out to the upper right, is used as a symbol for the male gender.
The many failures in Mars exploration probes resulted in a satirical counter-culture blaming the failures on an Earth-Mars "Bermuda Triangle", a "Mars Curse", or a "Great Galactic Ghoul" that feeds on Martian spacecraft.
The fashionable idea that Mars was populated by intelligent Martians exploded in the late 19th century. Schiaparelli's "canali" observations combined with Percival Lowell's books on the subject put forward the standard notion of a planet that was a drying, cooling, dying world with ancient civilizations constructing irrigation works.
Many other observations and proclamations by notable personalities added to what has been termed "Mars Fever". In 1899, while investigating atmospheric radio noise using his receivers in his Colorado Springs lab, inventor Nikola Tesla observed repetitive signals that he later surmised might have been radio communications coming from another planet, possibly Mars. In a 1901 interview Tesla said:
It was some time afterward when the thought flashed upon my mind that the disturbances I had observed might be due to an intelligent control. Although I could not decipher their meaning, it was impossible for me to think of them as having been entirely accidental. The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another.
Tesla's theories gained support from Lord Kelvin who, while visiting the United States in 1902, was reported to have said that he thought Tesla had picked up Martian signals being sent to the United States. Kelvin "emphatically" denied this report shortly before leaving: "What I really said was that the inhabitants of Mars, if there are any, were doubtless able to see New York, particularly the glare of the electricity."
In a New York Times article in 1901, Edward Charles Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory, said that they had received a telegram from Lowell Observatory in Arizona that seemed to confirm that Mars was trying to communicate with Earth.
Early in December 1900, we received from Lowell Observatory in Arizona a telegram that a shaft of light had been seen to project from Mars (the Lowell observatory makes a specialty of Mars) lasting seventy minutes. I wired these facts to Europe and sent out neostyle copies through this country. The observer there is a careful, reliable man and there is no reason to doubt that the light existed. It was given as from a well-known geographical point on Mars. That was all. Now the story has gone the world over. In Europe it is stated that I have been in communication with Mars, and all sorts of exaggerations have spring up. Whatever the light was, we have no means of knowing. Whether it had intelligence or not, no one can say. It is absolutely inexplicable.
In recent decades, the high-resolution mapping of the surface of Mars, culminating in Mars Global Surveyor, revealed no artifacts of habitation by "intelligent" life, but pseudoscientific speculation about intelligent life on Mars continues from commentators such as Richard C. Hoagland. Reminiscent of the canali controversy, these speculations are based on small scale features perceived in the spacecraft images, such as "pyramids" and the "Face on Mars". Planetary astronomer Carl Sagan wrote:
Mars has become a kind of mythic arena onto which we have projected our Earthly hopes and fears.
The depiction of Mars in fiction has been stimulated by its dramatic red color and by nineteenth century scientific speculations that its surface conditions might support not just life but intelligent life. Thus originated a large number of science fiction scenarios, among which is H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, published in 1898, in which Martians seek to escape their dying planet by invading Earth.
Influential works included Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, in which human explorers accidentally destroy a Martian civilization, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series, C. S. Lewis' novel Out of the Silent Planet (1938), and a number of Robert A. Heinlein stories before the mid-sixties.
Jonathan Swift made reference to the moons of Mars, about 150 years before their actual discovery by Asaph Hall, detailing reasonably accurate descriptions of their orbits, in the 19th chapter of his novel Gulliver's Travels.
A comic figure of an intelligent Martian, Marvin the Martian, appeared in Haredevil Hare (1948) as a character in the Looney Tunes animated cartoons of Warner Brothers, and has continued as part of popular culture to the present.
After the Mariner and Viking spacecraft had returned pictures of Mars as it really is, an apparently lifeless and canal-less world, these ideas about Mars had to be abandoned, and a vogue for accurate, realist depictions of human colonies on Mars developed, the best known of which may be Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. Pseudo-scientific speculations about the Face on Mars and other enigmatic landmarks spotted by space probes have meant that ancient civilizations continue to be a popular theme in science fiction, especially in film.
The identification of organic molecules in rocks on the red planet does not necessarily point to life there, past or present, but does indicate that some of the building blocks were present.
Aris is the Greek name of the planet Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, also known as the Red planet. Aris or Ares was the Greek god of War.See also the Greek article about the planet.
The Big Falcon Rocket (officially shortened to BFR) is a privately funded, fully reusable launch vehicle and spacecraft system in development by SpaceX. In November 2018 the second stage and ship was renamed by Elon Musk to Starship, while the first stage was given the moniker "Super Heavy". The overall space vehicle architecture includes both launch vehicle and spacecraft, as well as ground infrastructure for rapid launch and relaunch, and propellant transfer in space. The payload capacity to Earth orbit of at least 100,000 kg (220,000 lb) makes BFR a super heavy-lift launch vehicle. However, if the pattern seen in previous iterations holds, the full Starship-Super Heavy stack could be capable of launching 150 tons or more to low Earth orbit, more than any other launch vehicle currently planned. The first orbital flight is tentatively planned for 2020.SpaceX has been developing a super heavy-lift launch vehicle for many years, with the design (and nomenclature) of the vehicle undergoing several revisions over time. Before 2016, the vehicle was referred to as the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT), then in 2016, Musk presented the vehicle as the ITS launch vehicle, forming a core part of the SpaceX comprehensive vision for an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). In September 2017, the design changed to a much smaller 9 m (30 ft)-diameter vehicle and was given the code name BFR before it was renamed to Starship and Super Heavy.
The launch vehicle design is dependent on the concurrent development work on the Raptor rocket engines, which are cryogenic methalox-fueled engines to be used for both stages of the BFR launch vehicle. Development on the Raptor began in 2012, leading to engine testing which began in 2016 and flight testing after April 2019.
The BFR system is intended to completely replace all of SpaceX's existing space hardware (the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft), initially aiming at the Earth-orbit launch market, but explicitly adding substantial capability to support long-duration spaceflight in the cislunar and Mars transport flight environments.Bruno Mars
Peter Gene Hernandez (born October 8, 1985), known professionally as Bruno Mars, is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and dancer. He is known for his stage performances, retro showmanship and for performing in a wide range of musical styles, including R&B, funk, pop, soul, reggae, hip hop, and rock. Mars is accompanied by his band, The Hooligans, who play a variety of instruments, such as electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, drums and horns, and also serve as backup singers and dancers.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mars moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue a musical career. After being dropped by Motown Records, Mars signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 2009. In the same year, he co-founded the production team The Smeezingtons, responsible for various successful singles for Mars himself and other artists. Mars rose to fame in 2010 with the release of the successful singles "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B and "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, both of which featured his vocals on the hooks. His debut studio album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010), peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States and reached number one in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It spawned the international number-one singles "Just the Way You Are", "Grenade", and "The Lazy Song". The former won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 2011, Mars recorded the single "It Will Rain" for the film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011).
Mars' second album, Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), peaked at number one in the US, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and the UK, winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Its singles "Locked Out of Heaven" and "When I Was Your Man", reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2014, Mars collaborated with Mark Ronson on "Uptown Funk", which topped many music charts worldwide, including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. The song won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the Grammys. In 2016, Shampoo Press & Curl replaced The Smeezingtons on the composition of Mars' third studio album, the R&B-focused, 24K Magic. The record debuted at number two in the United States, Canada, France, and New Zealand and received seven Grammy Awards, winning the major categories of Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. The album yielded the successful singles "24K Magic", "That's What I Like", and "Finesse".
Mars has sold over 180 million singles and 26 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has released seven number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since his career launched in 2010, attaining his first five faster than any male artist since Elvis Presley. As a songwriter, he was included in Music Week and Billboard magazine as one of the best songwriters of 2011 and 2013, respectively. Mars has received several awards and nominations, including 11 Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, nine American Music Awards, 10 Soul Train Awards and holds three Guinness World Records. He has appeared in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and Forbes magazine's lists of '30 under 30' in 2013, the world's most powerful celebrities in 2014, and Celebrity 100 in 2018.Colonization of Mars
Mars is the focus of much scientific study about possible human colonization. Mars's surface conditions and past presence of liquid water make it arguably the most hospitable planet in the Solar System besides Earth. Mars requires less energy per unit mass (delta-v) to reach from Earth than any planet, other than Venus.
Permanent human habitation on other planets, including Mars, is one of science fiction's most prevalent themes. As technology advances, and concerns about humanity's future on Earth increase, arguments favoring space colonization gain momentum. Other reasons for colonizing space include economic interests, long-term scientific research best carried out by humans as opposed to robotic probes, and sheer curiosity.
Both private and public organizations have made commitments to researching the viability of long-term colonization efforts and to taking steps toward a permanent human presence on Mars. Space agencies engaged in research or mission planning include NASA, Roscosmos, and the China National Space Administration. Private organizations include SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing.Curiosity (rover)
Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore the crater Gale on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC and landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC. The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 560 million km (350 million mi) journey. The rover's goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration.In December 2012, Curiosity's two-year mission was extended indefinitely, and on August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing. The rover is still operational, and as of April 22, 2019, Curiosity has been on Mars for 2385 sols (2449 total days) since landing on August 6, 2012. (See current status.)
Curiosity's design serves as the basis for the planned Mars 2020 rover, that will carry different scientific instruments.Human mission to Mars
A human mission to Mars has been the subject of science fiction, aerospace engineering, and scientific proposals since the 19th century. The plans comprise proposals to land on Mars, eventually settling on and terraforming the planet, while utilizing its moons, Phobos and Deimos.
The exploration of Mars has been a goal of national space programs for decades. Preliminary work for missions that would involve human explorers has been undertaken since the 1950s, with planned missions typically being stated as taking place 10 to 30 years in the future when they are drafted. The List of crewed Mars mission plans shows the various mission proposals that have been put forth by multiple organizations and space agencies in this field of space exploration. Plans have varied from scientific expeditions in which a small (2 to 8) group visits Mars for a period of a few weeks or year, to the permanent colonization of Mars.
In the 2010s, numerous American, European, and Asian agencies were developing proposals for human missions to Mars. They are now developing and testing the technologies.
Mars in fiction is a frequent target of exploration and settlement in books, graphic novels, and films.Jared Leto
Jared Joseph Leto (; born December 26, 1971) is an American actor, singer, songwriter, and director. After starting his career with television appearances in the early 1990s, Leto achieved recognition for his role as Jordan Catalano on the television series My So-Called Life (1994). He made his film debut in How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and received critical praise for his performance in Prefontaine (1997). Leto played supporting roles in The Thin Red Line (1998), Fight Club (1999) and American Psycho (2000), as well as the lead role in Urban Legend (1998), and earned critical acclaim after portraying heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream (2000). He later began focusing increasingly on his music career, returning to acting with Panic Room (2002), Alexander (2004), Lord of War (2005), Lonely Hearts (2006), Chapter 27 (2007), and Mr. Nobody (2009). In 2012, he directed the documentary film Artifact. He then appeared in Suicide Squad (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
Leto's performance as a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club (2013), earned him an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor. Leto is considered to be a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. He often remains completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is also known to be selective about his film roles.Leto is the lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and main songwriter for Thirty Seconds to Mars, a band he formed in 1998 in Los Angeles, California, with his older brother Shannon Leto. Their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars (2002), was released to positive reviews, but only to limited commercial success. The band achieved worldwide fame with the release of their second album A Beautiful Lie (2005). Their following releases, This Is War (2009), and Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013), received further critical and commercial success. As of September 2014, the band has sold over 15 million albums worldwide. Leto has also directed music videos, including the MTV Video Music Award–winning "The Kill" (2006), "Kings and Queens" (2009), and "Up in the Air" (2013).Life on Mars
The possibility of life on Mars is a subject of significant interest to astrobiology due to its proximity and similarities to Earth. To date, no proof has been found of past or present life on Mars. Cumulative evidence shows that during the ancient Noachian time period, the surface environment of Mars had liquid water and may have been habitable for microorganisms. The existence of habitable conditions does not necessarily indicate the presence of life.Scientific searches for evidence of life began in the 19th century, and they continue today via telescopic investigations and deployed probes. While early work focused on phenomenology and bordered on fantasy, the modern scientific inquiry has emphasized the search for water, chemical biosignatures in the soil and rocks at the planet's surface, and biomarker gases in the atmosphere.Mars is of particular interest for the study of the origins of life because of its similarity to the early Earth. This is especially so since Mars has a cold climate and lacks plate tectonics or continental drift, so it has remained almost unchanged since the end of the Hesperian period. At least two-thirds of Mars's surface is more than 3.5 billion years old, and Mars may thus hold the best record of the prebiotic conditions leading to abiogenesis, even if life does not or has never existed there.Following the confirmation of the past existence of surface liquid water, the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers started searching for evidence of past life, including a past biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic, or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable. The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic compounds on Mars is now a primary NASA and ESA objective.
The findings of organic compounds inside sedimentary rocks and of boron on Mars are of interest as they are precursors for prebiotic chemistry. Such findings, along with previous discoveries that liquid water was clearly present on ancient Mars, further supports the possible early habitability of Gale Crater on Mars. Currently, the surface of Mars is bathed with radiation, and when reacting with the perchlorates on the surface, it may be more toxic to microorganisms than thought earlier. Therefore, the consensus is that if life exists —or existed— on Mars, it could be found or is best preserved in the subsurface, away from present-day harsh surface processes.
In June 2018, NASA announced the detection of seasonal variation of methane levels on Mars. Methane could be produced by microorganisms or by geological means. The European ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter started mapping the atmospheric methane in April 2018, and the 2020 ExoMars rover will drill and analyze subsurface samples, while the NASA Mars 2020 rover will cache dozens of drill samples for their potential transport to Earth laboratories in the late 2020s or 2030s.Mars, Incorporated
Mars is an American global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products and a provider of animal care services, with US$33 billion in annual sales in 2015. It was ranked as the 6th largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, United States, the company is entirely owned by the Mars family. Mars operates in five business segments around the world: Mars Wrigley Confectionary (headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with US headquarters in Hackettstown and Newark, New Jersey), Petcare (Brussels, Belgium, Poncitlán and Jalisco, Mexico, Querétaro, Mexico), Food (Rancho Dominguez, California), Drinks (West Chester, Pennsylvania), and Symbioscience (Germantown, Maryland), the company's life sciences division.Mars (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars (Latin: Mārs, [maːrs]) was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.
Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature. Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom, as a guardian of the Roman people, had no Greek equivalent. Mars' altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome. Although the center of Mars' worship was originally located outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium), Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum.Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome's founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who "founded" Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.
The importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.
Mars may ultimately be a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European god Perkwunos, having originally a thunderer character. At least etymological Etruscan predecessors are present in Maris, though this is not universally agreed upon.Mars Orbiter Mission
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan ("Mars-craft", from Sanskrit: मंगल mangala, "Mars" and यान yāna, "craft, vehicle"), is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is India's first interplanetary mission and it made it the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency. It is the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt.The Mars Orbiter Mission probe lifted-off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh, using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 at 09:08 UTC on 5 November 2013. The launch window was approximately 20 days long and started on 28 October 2013. The MOM probe spent about a month in Earth orbit, where it made a series of seven apogee-raising orbital manoeuvres before trans-Mars injection on 30 November 2013 (UTC). After a 298-day transit to Mars, it was inserted into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014.
The mission is a "technology demonstrator" project to develop the technologies for designing, planning, management, and operations of an interplanetary mission. It carries five instruments that will help advance knowledge about Mars to achieve its secondary, scientific objective. The spacecraft is currently being monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu, Karnataka.Mars rover
A Mars rover is a motor vehicle that travels across the surface of the planet Mars upon arrival. Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months, and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control. Mars
There have been four successful robotically operated Mars rovers, all managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit and Curiosity. On January 24, 2016, NASA reported that current studies on Mars by Curiosity and Opportunity (the latter now defunct) would be searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable. The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on Mars is now a primary NASA objective. In June 2018, Opportunity went out of contact after going into hibernation mode in a dust storm. NASA declared the Opportunity mission ended on February 13, 2019, after numerous failures to wake up the rover from the repeated signals.Mars 2, Mars 3 were physically tethered probes; Sojourner was dependent on the Mars Pathfinder base station for communication with Earth; MER-A & B and Curiosity were on their own. As of February 2019, Curiosity is still active, while Spirit, Opportunity, and Sojourner completed their missions before losing contact.Mick Mars
Robert Alan Deal (born either May 4, 1951 or April 4, 1955), known professionally as Mick Mars, is an American musician and lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe.NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, ) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science. Since its establishment, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System; advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program; exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons; and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs.Opportunity (rover)
Opportunity, also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B) or MER-1, and nicknamed "Oppy", is a robotic rover that was active on Mars from 2004 to late 2018. Launched on July 7, 2003, as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover program, it landed in Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004, three weeks after its twin Spirit (MER-A) touched down on the other side of the planet. With a planned 90-sol duration of activity (slightly more than 90 Earth days), Spirit functioned until it got stuck in 2009 and ceased communications in 2010, while Opportunity was able to stay operational for 5111 sols after landing, maintaining its power and key systems through continual recharging of its batteries using solar power, and hibernating during events such as dust storms to save power. This careful operation allowed Opportunity to exceed its operating plan by 14 years, 46 days (in Earth time), 55 times its designed lifespan. By June 10, 2018, when it last contacted NASA, the rover had traveled a distance of 45.16 kilometers (28.06 miles).Mission highlights included the initial 90-sol mission, finding extramartian meteorites such as Heat Shield Rock (Meridiani Planum meteorite), and over two years of exploring and studying Victoria crater. The rover survived moderate dust storms and in 2011 reached Endeavour crater, which has been described as a "second landing site". The Opportunity mission is considered one of NASA's most successful ventures.Due to the planetary 2018 dust storm on Mars, Opportunity ceased communications on June 10 and entered hibernation on June 12, 2018. It was hoped it would reboot once the weather cleared, but it did not, suggesting either a catastrophic failure or that a layer of dust had covered its solar panels. NASA hoped to re-establish contact with the rover, citing a windy period that could potentially clean off its solar panels. On February 13, 2019, NASA officials declared that the Opportunity mission was complete, after the spacecraft had failed to respond to over 1,000 signals sent since August 2018.Solar System
The Solar System is the gravitationally bound planetary system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of the objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest are the eight planets, with the remainder being smaller objects, such as the five dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly—the moons—two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.The Solar System formed 4.6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun, with the majority of the remaining mass contained in Jupiter. The four smaller inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, are terrestrial planets, being primarily composed of rock and metal. The four outer planets are giant planets, being substantially more massive than the terrestrials. The two largest, Jupiter and Saturn, are gas giants, being composed mainly of hydrogen and helium; the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, are ice giants, being composed mostly of substances with relatively high melting points compared with hydrogen and helium, called volatiles, such as water, ammonia and methane. All eight planets have almost circular orbits that lie within a nearly flat disc called the ecliptic.
The Solar System also contains smaller objects. The asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, mostly contains objects composed, like the terrestrial planets, of rock and metal. Beyond Neptune's orbit lie the Kuiper belt and scattered disc, which are populations of trans-Neptunian objects composed mostly of ices, and beyond them a newly discovered population of sednoids. Within these populations are several dozen to possibly tens of thousands of objects large enough that they have been rounded by their own gravity. Such objects are categorized as dwarf planets. Identified dwarf planets include the asteroid Ceres and the trans-Neptunian objects Pluto and Eris. In addition to these two regions, various other small-body populations, including comets, centaurs and interplanetary dust clouds, freely travel between regions. Six of the planets, at least four of the dwarf planets, and many of the smaller bodies are orbited by natural satellites, usually termed "moons" after the Moon. Each of the outer planets is encircled by planetary rings of dust and other small objects.
The solar wind, a stream of charged particles flowing outwards from the Sun, creates a bubble-like region in the interstellar medium known as the heliosphere. The heliopause is the point at which pressure from the solar wind is equal to the opposing pressure of the interstellar medium; it extends out to the edge of the scattered disc. The Oort cloud, which is thought to be the source for long-period comets, may also exist at a distance roughly a thousand times further than the heliosphere. The Solar System is located in the Orion Arm, 26,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way galaxy.The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta is an American progressive rock band from El Paso, Texas, formed in 2001. The band's final lineup consisted of Omar Rodríguez-López (guitar, producer, direction), Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocals, lyrics), Juan Alderete (bass), Marcel Rodríguez-López (keyboards, percussion) and Deantoni Parks (drums). The band formed following the break-up of Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala's previous band, At the Drive-In. They were known for their energetic live shows and their concept albums.
In 2009, the band won a Grammy Award in the Best Hard Rock Performance category for the song "Wax Simulacra". In 2008, they were named Best Prog-Rock Band by Rolling Stone magazine.In September 2012 the Mars Volta entered a hiatus, with Omar Rodríguez-López and Parks forming a new project, Bosnian Rainbows. Four months later, the band formally broke up. Bixler-Zavala and Alderete subsequently formed a new band, Zavalaz. Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala eventually reunited in 2014 for a new project, Antemasque; At the Drive-In reunited in 2015, and comments from the pair have indicated that they plan to reunite The Mars Volta in the future.Thirty Seconds to Mars
Thirty Seconds to Mars (commonly stylized as 30 Seconds to Mars) is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1998. The band consists of brothers Jared Leto (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Shannon Leto (drums, percussion). During the course of its existence, it has undergone various line-up changes.
The band's debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars (2002), was produced by Bob Ezrin and released to positive reviews but only to limited commercial success. The band achieved worldwide fame with the release of its second album A Beautiful Lie (2005), which received multiple certifications all over the world. Its next release, This Is War (2009), showed a dramatic evolution in the band's musical style, as it incorporated experimental music as well as eclectic influences. The recording process of the album was marked by a legal dispute with record label EMI that eventually became the subject of the documentary film Artifact (2012). Thirty Seconds to Mars then moved to Universal Music and released the fourth album, Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013), to critical and commercial success. It was followed by America (2018), which polarized critics upon release.
As of September 2014, the band had sold over 15 million albums worldwide. Thirty Seconds to Mars has consistently enjoyed sold out tours and numerous headlining festival slots. The band is noted for its energetic live performances and for fusing elements from a wide variety of genres, through its use of philosophical and spiritual lyrics, concept albums, and experimental music. Thirty Seconds to Mars has received several awards and accolades throughout its career, including a Guinness World Record, and has been included in the Kerrang! list of best artists of the 2000s.Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars is an American teen noir mystery drama television series created by screenwriter Rob Thomas. The series is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and stars Kristen Bell as the eponymous character. The series premiered on September 22, 2004, during television network UPN's final two years, and ended on May 22, 2007, after a season on UPN's successor, The CW, airing for three seasons total. Veronica Mars was produced by Warner Bros. Television, Silver Pictures Television, Stu Segall Productions, and Rob Thomas Productions. Joel Silver and Rob Thomas were executive producers for the entire run of the series, while Diane Ruggiero was promoted in the third season.Veronica Mars is a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. In each episode, Veronica solves a different stand-alone case while working to solve a more complex mystery. The first two seasons of the series each had a season-long mystery arc, introduced in the first episode of the season and solved in the season finale. The third season took a different format, focusing on smaller mystery arcs that would last the course of several episodes.
Thomas initially wrote Veronica Mars as a young adult novel, which featured a male protagonist; he changed the gender because he thought a noir piece told from a female point of view would be more interesting and original. Filming began in March 2004, and the series premiered in September to 2.49 million American viewers. The critically acclaimed first season's run of 22 episodes garnered an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode in the United States. The series appeared on a number of fall television best lists, and garnered several awards and nominations. During the series' run, it was nominated for two Satellite Awards, four Saturn Awards, five Teen Choice Awards and was featured on AFI's TV Programs of the Year for 2005.
Following the cancellation of the series, Thomas wrote a feature film script continuing the series. Warner Bros. opted not to fund the project at the time. On March 13, 2013, Bell and Thomas launched a fundraising campaign to produce the film through Kickstarter and attained the $2 million goal in less than eleven hours. They accumulated over $5.7 million via Kickstarter. The film was released on March 14, 2014. In September 2018, an eight-episode limited series was confirmed by Hulu, which will be released on its entirety on July 26, 2019.Water on Mars
Almost all water on Mars today exists as ice, though it also exists in small quantities as vapor in the atmosphere, and occasionally as low-volume liquid brines in shallow Martian soil. The only place where water ice is visible at the surface is at the north polar ice cap. Abundant water ice is also present beneath the permanent carbon dioxide ice cap at the Martian south pole and in the shallow subsurface at more temperate conditions. More than 21 million km3 of ice have been detected at or near the surface of Mars, enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 35 meters (115 ft). Even more ice is likely to be locked away in the deep subsurface.Some liquid water may occur transiently on the Martian surface today, but limited to traces of dissolved moisture from the atmosphere and thin films, which are challenging environments for known life. No large standing bodies of liquid water exist on the planet's surface, because the atmospheric pressure there averages just 600 pascals (0.087 psi), a figure slightly below the vapor pressure of water at its melting point; under average Martian conditions, pure water on the Martian surface would freeze or, if heated to above the melting point, would sublime to vapor. Before about 3.8 billion years ago, Mars may have had a denser atmosphere and higher surface temperatures, allowing vast amounts of liquid water on the surface, possibly including a large ocean that may have covered one-third of the planet. Water has also apparently flowed across the surface for short periods at various intervals more recently in Mars' history. On December 9, 2013, NASA reported that, based on evidence from the Curiosity rover studying Aeolis Palus, Gale Crater contained an ancient freshwater lake that could have been a hospitable environment for microbial life.Many lines of evidence indicate that water ice is abundant on Mars and it has played a significant role in the planet's geologic history. The present-day inventory of water on Mars can be estimated from spacecraft imagery, remote sensing techniques (spectroscopic measurements, radar, etc.), and surface investigations from landers and rovers. Geologic evidence of past water includes enormous outflow channels carved by floods, ancient river valley networks, deltas, and lakebeds; and the detection of rocks and minerals on the surface that could only have formed in liquid water. Numerous geomorphic features suggest the presence of ground ice (permafrost) and the movement of ice in glaciers, both in the recent past and present. Gullies and slope lineae along cliffs and crater walls suggest that flowing water continues to shape the surface of Mars, although to a far lesser degree than in the ancient past.
Although the surface of Mars was periodically wet and could have been hospitable to microbial life billions of years ago, the current environment at the surface is dry and subfreezing, probably presenting an insurmountable obstacle for living organisms. In addition, Mars lacks a thick atmosphere, ozone layer, and magnetic field, allowing solar and cosmic radiation to strike the surface unimpeded. The damaging effects of ionizing radiation on cellular structure is another one of the prime limiting factors on the survival of life on the surface. Therefore, the best potential locations for discovering life on Mars may be in subsurface environments. On November 22, 2016, NASA reported finding a large amount of underground ice on Mars; the volume of water detected is equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior. In July 2018, Italian scientists reported the discovery of a subglacial lake on Mars, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) below the southern polar ice cap, and extending sideways about 20 km (12 mi), the first known stable body of water on the planet.Understanding the extent and situation of water on Mars is vital to assess the planet’s potential for harboring life and for providing usable resources for future human exploration. For this reason, "Follow the Water" was the science theme of NASA's Mars Exploration Program (MEP) in the first decade of the 21st century. Discoveries by the 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and Mars Phoenix lander have been instrumental in answering key questions about water's abundance and distribution on Mars. The ESA's Mars Express orbiter has also provided essential data in this quest. The Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, MRO, and Mars Science Lander Curiosity rover are still sending back data from Mars, and discoveries continue to be made.
|Exploration of Mars|
Missions are ordered by launch date. Sign † indicates failure en route or before intended mission data returned.
Human mission to Mars
|Mars analogs (list)|
The Solar System
Solar System → Local Interstellar Cloud → Local Bubble → Gould Belt → Orion Arm → Milky Way → Milky Way subgroup → Local Group → Local Sheet → Virgo Supercluster → Laniakea Supercluster → Observable universe → Universe