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Mars - The Red Planet

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The red planet, Mars, has inspired wild flights of imagination over the centuries, as well as intense scientific interest. Whether fancied to be the source of hostile invaders of Earth, the home of a dying civilization, or a rough-and-tumble mining colony of the future, Mars provides fertile ground for science fiction writers, based on seeds planted by centuries of scientific observations. Discover our neighbor, Mars, in all its glory.

Overview - Basic Mars Information

Mars - The Red Planet
NASA
Long ago, when only the moon and the stars lit up the night sky, fear and foreboding rose whenever a blood-red dot looped its way across an otherwise still sky. Mars, the Red Planet, was a familiar yet suspicious omen, a symbol for war and aggression for many years.

Even as science progressed and great thinkers studied the skies, Mars stayed in the human imagination. Telescopes in the 1880s revealed strange markings on Mars which convinced masses of people that Mars had canals built by an alien race. Were these Martians warlike and should we fear an invasion?

Radio convinced us "yes" when a 1938 broadcast of "War of the Worlds" scared millions of listeners into believing that tentacled creatures had landed on Earth in their war machines.

Moons of Mars

Phobos from 6,800 Kilometers
NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Asaph Hall was about to give up his search for a Martian moon one August night in 1877, but his wife Angelina urged him on. He discovered Deimos the next night, and Phobos six nights after that.

Hall named the moons for the mythological sons of Ares, Greek counterpart of Roman Mars. Phobos means fear (think "phobia"), and Deimos means flight (running after an overwhelming defeat).

Like Earth's Moon, Phobos and Deimos always present the same face to their planet. Both are lumpy, heavily-cratered and covered in dust and loose rocks. They are among the darker objects in the solar system. The moons appear to be made of carbon-rich rock mixed with ice and may be captured asteroids.

Mars Pictures Gallery

Pictures of Mars - View from Lander 1
Copyright 1995-2003, California Institute of Technology
Named for the Roman god of War, Mars probably got this name due to its red color. (Sometimes referred to as the Red Planet.) The month March derives from Mars. Take a look for yourself at some great images of this fascinating planet.
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