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Mars In The Fourth Position

NASA has several Mars missions planned for the next decade. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. It is a very active planet like the Earth. It has evidence of volcanoes, plate tectonics, and liquid water (as opposed to ice) on the planet. It even has polar ice caps like the Earth, with water in the north and solid carbon dioxide in the south. With all of these similarities, Mars is still nothing like Earth. It only has 40% of our gravity because the mass of the planet is so much smaller. Also, its atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide and has less than 1% of the atmospheric pressure of Earth.

Any Life Up There?

Scientists still hold out hope for life on Mars. Mars had lots of water. Right now, there are ice caps on the surface. At one time, there may have been water in liquid form under the surface of the planet. Recent discoveries by the Mars Exploration Rovers have proven the existence of water by discovering hematite. Where there is water, there could be life. Mars also has weather and a heat source. The atmosphere circulates around the planet and there are volcanoes on the surface.

Exploring Mars

Many probes have visited Mars through the years because it is so close to Earth. Viking, Pathfinder, Sojourner, and Mariner are only a few. The Viking Lander checked out the surface of Mars in the 1970's. It sent back some great pictures of the red surface of the planet. The surface is a reddish color because the rocks and crust are chock full of iron compounds. For several years, the two Mars Exploration Rovers have been studying the surface rocks in detail. They have been able to travel to many locations in a small area. With patience, the rovers have made many new discoveries about the geologic history of Mars.

All of these probes have also shown us a great deal of the Martian surface. Mars has the largest volcano ever discovered. It has been named Olympus Mons and is one of the most amazing features of the planet. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will soon photograph the location in higher resolution than before. The probes have also discovered many channels that cross the surface. Those channels may have been created by flowing water and erosion on the surface and the mountains.

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Landing on Mars (NASA/JPL Video)
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Useful Reference Materials

Encyclopedia.com:
http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Mars.aspx
Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars
Encyclopædia Britannica:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/366330/Mars
NASA (Mars Exploration):
http://mars.nasa.gov/


 
RELATED LINKS
- Cosmos4Kids: Jupiter
- Chem4Kids: Matter
- Chem4Kids: Astrochemistry
- Chem4Kids: Elements
- Geography4Kids: Solar Radiation
- Physics4Kids: Gravity
- Physics4Kids: Magnetic Fields
- Physics4Kids: Light

- NASA: Home Page
- ESA: Home Page
- NASA: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
- NASA: Mars Exploration Rovers
- NASA: Mars Home Page
- ESA: Mars Express Mission

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