See the Red Planet Up Close

As NASA’s Mariner IV probe returned images of Mars to earth, people worldwide watched with anticipation as the planet revealed itself to them for the first time ever. What they discovered was unimaginable to most.

Planet Earth features polar caps, volcanoes, canyons and deserts – in addition to two small moons: Phobos and Deimos.

Images from Mars often depict what one would expect: rocky, dusty desert. But sometimes Curiosity’s cameras capture something unusual like these stunning views of iridescent clouds.

Mars is a planet like Earth

Mars is an extraordinary planet that continues to draw our interest since ancient times, drawing astronomers and students alike from every field of study. Its orange-red hue has long drawn people in for further examination. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and comprises three layers – its core, mantle and crust – as well as surface features suggesting it once had thick atmosphere and water; orbital data points toward flood plains in its orbit. Canyons, craters and volcanoes dot its surface too!

Many scientists once held that Mars was similar to Earth, covered with canal systems constructed by an advanced alien civilization. But this belief has since been disproved as spacecraft and rovers explored its surface. Today, Mars remains an inhospitable planet with few similarities with Earth; but it still boasts unique charms of its own such as mountains, volcanoes, sand dunes and one of the largest canyons in our solar system; plus its polar caps contain ice which could potentially hide more hidden life below. Mars remains an active windblown landscape which might just possibly harbor life

Through a telescope, Mars appears as a small reddish disc that varies in size depending on its distance from the Sun. It can most easily be observed during oppositions when Mars is closest to Earth; its red hue is caused by dust particles in its atmosphere reflecting light from the Sun and contributing to weather on Mars.

Planet Mars is currently closer than it has been for 60,000 years, providing us with a rare opportunity to observe it at close quarters. Scientists are taking full advantage of this situation by launching three spacecraft to study this planet closely.

Mars may appear like an inhospitable desert now, but in fact it resembles Earth more closely than we realized. At one time there was an atmosphere rich with moisture, rivers, lakes and even oceans were once abundant on Mars – scientists don’t yet understand when or why its water disappeared, though they have discovered evidence of surface and underground channels where this flow once existed.

Mars is a planet with polar caps

Mars is a planet known for its dynamic polar caps that change dramatically with each season. Constructed of carbon dioxide ice crystals, they become visible when temperatures drop during wintertime. When warmer weather returns in spring or summertime, however, their appearance often returns – an evidence of changing climate since Noachian period began roughly 3.7 billion years ago.

Scientists have recently discovered that both the north and south poles of Mars are covered with ice. Unlike Earth, which features polar caps composed mainly of water and snow, Mars’ caps contain both liquid water and carbon dioxide polar caps which fluctuate in size depending on seasonal fluctuations such as winter-spring transition and seasonal climate fluctuations as well as by its unique orbital plane inclination compared to Earth. These fluctuations also show up as differences between planets’ orbital plane inclinations compared with one another and may influence growth/contractions cycles and seasonal effects compared to Earth axis inclinations relative to orbital plane inclinations when compared with Earth axis inclination of its axis with respect to orbital plane inclinations which affect their size variation during both winter/spring transition and seasonal climate change effects when in between these seasons compared with Earth axis axis orientation which affect them similarly.

Both polar caps feature intricate dark and light bands that expose layers of ice and dust accumulated over long periods. These patterns may serve as digital ice cores that offer insight into Earth’s past climate.

Mars boasts two large polar ice caps, as well as smaller outlying ones scattered across its surface. Though smaller than their more prominent counterparts, these outlying ones still represent significant volumes.

Outlying ice caps, like their polar counterparts, are created when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere freezes, creating thin sheets of ice that form seasonal cycles with melting and sublimation occurring throughout summertime.

Polar ice caps provide invaluable data about Mars’ climate history. Their findings enable scientists to better comprehend its climate fluctuations over time and how life evolved on this distant world. Furthermore, the polar caps also preserve evidence of water evolution since Noachian period ended about 3.7 billion years ago, to its present state.

Polar ice caps are stunning to witness from Earth, but even more stunning when observed through Curiosity rover’s lens. This image was captured by Curiosity on February 24, and shows a center area which appears similar to coral or flowers due to minerals carried by water cementing together millions of years ago.

Mars is a planet with volcanoes

At distance from Earth, Mars appears as a small reddish disc through any telescope’s eyepiece. At opposition (closer to us) however, features like its polar caps and dark markings can become much clearer; providing an unparalleled opportunity for astronomers and NASA rovers alike to view Mars close up.

Mars’ western hemisphere is dominated by an immense volcano-tectonic complex known as Tharsis bulge, an immense volcano-tectonic complex with thousands of miles of raised elevation, reaching Olympus Mons – a shield volcano 100 times larger than Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. Scientists once believed Tharsis had seen its last volcanic activity but new findings from an examination of surface material indicate otherwise.

Cerberus Fossae region on Mars provided scientists with evidence of recent outflows of rock and lava that had occurred within recent planetary history, perhaps only several tens or thousands of years ago. The outflows deposited a layer of pyroxenes, an indicator that magma on Mars is more active than previously imagined.

Scientists are still trying to ascertain why volcanic deposits have such an unusual appearance. One possibility could be caused by phreatomagmatism – where magma cools quickly before crystallizing within rocks around it – while another theory states they were formed due to a sudden pressure change caused by intrusion of ice or water into bedrock layers beneath.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured images with a resolution of 205 miles (330 km). This confirmed what scientists had suspected all along.

Imagery from Mars provides scientists with clues as to its interior structure, from volcanic deposits to its less-dense atmosphere and lower temperature. Mars’ lower density explains its weaker gravity and temperature differences from Earth as well as easier formation of layers from magma which could be why its crust top is much thicker than its base compared to Earth, leading to no deep mantle as opposed to having two mantles like on Earth.

Mars is a planet with canyons

Mars is an exquisite planet with breathtaking canyons that offer scientists an invaluable opportunity to study its surface and atmosphere. Since 1960, persistent observations by people and spacecraft have revealed many similar features found here on Earth such as clouds, winds, 24-hour days with seasonal weather cycles, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons – with its orange hue being one of its main characteristics.

Canyons on Mars are testaments to the powerful forces at play on its surface, such as slow plate movement, volcanism, wind erosion and deposition and floodwater inundation resulting in massive floods that carved deep ravines over short time periods. Recreational hiking will not yet be available there but this new image from European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter shows two of its biggest canyons Ius Chasma and Tithonium Chasma; each measuring around 840 kilometers long and five times deeper than Grand Canyon!

Image of Ius Chasma from above showing dark sand dunes, mountain-sized mounds likely deposited by volcanic activity, and small bumps which may have formed due to water evaporation. It’s the most detailed depiction yet of any Martian canyon; future missions, like Mars 2020 mission will need rover exploration to fully uncover its geological mysteries.

Scientists are also investigating Valles Marineris, a huge canyon system on Mars’ equator that runs parallel with Earth’s Grand Canyon and extends for 11 km (7 mi). Researchers speculate that Valles Marineris might provide water sources but don’t yet understand how it got there.

Mars differs significantly from Earth in that it lacks an active tectonic system, meaning most of the water it once contained now resides locked away in its polar ice caps.

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