Mars is no place for the faint-hearted. Arid, rocky, cold and apparently lifeless, the Red Planet offers few hospitalities. Fans of extreme sports can rejoice, however, for the Red Planet will challenge even the hardiest souls among us. Home to the largest volcano in the solar system, the deepest canyon and crazy weather and temperature patterns, Mars looms as the ultimate lonely planet destination
The three planets, all pursuing their ordinary orbits around the sun, will be visible until around October 29 but are best witnessed on October 26 before dawn. The next time this can be seen will be 2021
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance.
The most amazing recent news is that liquid water has been found to exist on Mars which have only until now appeared as dark streaks.
Mars is home to the tallest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons, a shield volcano, which is 21km high and 600km in diameter.
A day on Mars is roughly equivalent to an Earth day. A Martian year takes over 680 days, compared with Earth’s 365 day orbit of the Sun.
Mars has two known moons, Phobos and Deimos.
Mars has a very thin atmosphere, which contains about 95.3% carbon dioxide (CO2) and 2.7% nitrogen, and a mixture of other gases. The temperature is very cold, and there is believed to be frozen water at the poles in the form of permafrost.
The most recent missions to Mars include the Curiosity rover which has been roving the planet since Aug. 5, 2012 and sending back images, the MAVEN mission, which arrived on September 22, 2014 to study the martian atmosphere, and the Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter, which arrived on September 24, 2014.
Explorations have revealed water in the soil and possibly flowing water in the warmest months on Mars.
The next missions to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, comprising an orbiter, lander, and a rover, followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, to be launched in March 2016 with a planned arrival in September, 2016.
The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact. High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30784886
Southampton students aiming to put the first life on Mars – http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2014/dec/14_232.shtml – 10 September 2014