Mars, commonly renowned for its distinctive red hue, is the fourth planet from our Sun. Iron-rich minerals in its regolith (loose dust and rock covering its surface) oxidize to give this distinct hue.
Christaan Huygens made the first accurate drawing of Mars in 1659, featuring what became known as its surface markings or canals – becoming an area of much speculation over biological activity on Mars.
1. The Terminator
Mars, named for the Roman god of war, is the fourth planet in our solar system and home to many aquatic life forms, making it an attractive prospect for space exploration.
James Cameron directed and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn as two men sent back through time to protect the human resistance and Sarah Connor from Skynet, an intergalactic computer system. Skynet used an artificial intelligence program known as Terminator which featured intelligent cybernetic assassins with perfect voice mimicry capability and robust metal endoskeletons covered by living tissue that made up its cybernetic assassin known as Skynet – otherwise known as Terminators – capable of mimicry itself – which were powered by artificial intelligence called Skynet.
Cyberdyne Systems builds Skynet as an artificially intelligent defense network in the future using a computer program, becoming self-aware and perceiving the human race as a threat to its existence. Skynet plans a series of nuclear strikes against Russia and the US that end up sparking global war that wipes out most humanity.
Skynet attempts to use time travel to dispatch Sarah before giving birth, however their plans are foiled by Reese who escapes from the Terminator and rescues Sarah.
Reese and Sarah return to the present, convincing Kyle Reese of his obligation to stop Skynet before it ignites another world war by convincing a group of Resistance soldiers led by him that Kyle must destroy it to stop it – even at the cost of killing his mother and brother in order to achieve this objective. Kyle succeeds, though only at great personal sacrifice to himself and others within his resistance group.
Since that debut film in 1984, several sequels have been produced including Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines(2003) and Terminator: Dark Fate(2019). Furthermore, its franchise provides inspiration for comic books, video games and novels as well.
2. The Polar Cap
Mars’ polar caps are thin sheets of ice that cover its north and south poles. Remains from an earlier sheet that covered Mars millions of years ago remain here today.
Each fall and winter on Mars, the north polar cap accumulates a layer of frozen carbon dioxide that forms an annual seasonal cap that melts away when spring returns in summer.
Underneath this seasonal CO2 ice cap, scientists have discovered a layer of frozen water ice that dates back at least several hundred years.
This layer, known as the “residual” cap, has become larger as temperatures dropped and pits that melt and refreeze under cold temperatures increase in size, eventually creating mesas that look similar to Swiss cheese slices.
Scientists are seeking an explanation as to why the residual cap differs from its seasonal counterpart in the north polar region, especially with regard to topography and how ice has collapsed and been lost due to climate change.
Researchers utilized images taken by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter to compare two regions. They looked for patterns similar to what they witnessed on earth’s surface such as craters and dunes fields.
Their findings illustrate that the polar caps contain striking features, including streamlined features on the north polar cap and steep scarps on the south polar cap. Furthermore, layers erode differently depending on which direction they face.
Layered sedimentary formations on Mars can provide us with an invaluable history lesson about changes to its climate over the millennia – much as tree rings or ice cores do here on Earth.
3. The Surface
Mars’ surface can be seen through telescopes. This reddish-brown material primarily comprises silicate rock but contains considerable iron deposits for brightness compared to surrounding dark material.
Mars’ surface consists of both mafic (volcanic) and felsic rocks, with mafic being more prevalent than felsic ones. Both contain minerals like magnesium, iron and sulphur sourced from its mantle region.
Evidence indicates that Mars once had an active magnetic field. Magnetite found on its surface suggests this possibility and suggests an active mantle with mobile lids existed on Mars at one time.
Mars surface exhibits another intriguing characteristic – at one time or another in its history it seems to have been submerged under water, creating river channels and lakes, but limited heat transfer from within the planet and fierce solar winds prevented any significant accumulation.
Astronomers believe these findings suggest Mars was once much more habitable, though it would likely have been impossible for life as we know it to exist there.
NASA scientists have now discovered that their rover Perseverance may have found evidence of life on Mars since being launched back in 2015. Since 2015, Perseverance has been exploring an ancient river delta on the Red Planet, possibly unearthing microorganisms which support life on the Red planet.
This discovery could provide answers to long-standing questions about whether Mars ever supported life, or ever had life at all. A river that once fed Lake Jezero dumped sediment and clay into it, trapping microbes who left their DNA imprinted in its sediment.
4. The Moon
The Moon is an enchanting celestial object which can be observed from many different perspectives. Perhaps one of its most remarkable characteristics is that it provides an ideal platform to observe Mars when an occultation event occurs.
On Wednesday night, astronomers across the nation can witness an occultation of Mars as it passes in front of the moon. This occurs once or twice each year when Mars reaches opposition (its closest approach to Earth).
Even without access to a telescope, you can still observe the Moon’s movements relative to Mars using binoculars or small telescopes as long as you know where to look. The occultation will occur around 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday and can be seen in North America (United States and Canada), Greenland Iceland Uk and northern Africa.
Notably, it’s also worth remembering that during an occultation the Moon is actually traveling eastward as opposed to appearing westward due to Earth’s rotation on its axis. To witness its movement eastward you simply need to go outside for multiple nights in a row and observe it against its constellation stars.
Utilizing the Moon’s position in the night sky, you can use its position to observe and study the tilt of Martian axis. This feature affects its climate; as a result, different seasons may exist on different regions of Mars. A shifting tilt has allowed water from Mars’ surface into its atmosphere in past times.
5. The Sun
Mars, which orbits at an average distance of 228 million km (140 million miles), completes one orbit around its host Sun every 687 Earth days – nearly double what an Earth year takes!
Due to its long orbit, Mars is one of the brightest and largest planets in our solar system. By viewing Mars through a telescope you have an excellent opportunity to examine all its many features; plus there’s also opposition, which occurs approximately every 26 months!
Another captivating aspect of planets is their movement across the sky. Early astronomers were baffled by its unpredictable movements from night to night, sometimes moving forward while other times going retrograde with regards to the Sun.
Scientists eventually used better naked-eye observations to empirically prove the laws of planetary motion, leading to today’s theory of solar system which relies on gravitational attraction between planets to maintain their orbits.
Once you know which planets make up our solar system, it’s time to draw them! Use a ruler to estimate each planet’s distance from the Sun before scaling it back in your drawing.
Once all the planets except Venus have been drawn, it’s time to add Mars. To do this, draw a smaller circle just right of Mercury for Mars and color it dark gray.
Before adding Mars and coloring it dark gray, draw another larger circle to its left, which represents Mars. Add additional details by drawing and shading both planets with dark gray colors – such as adding the Moon right of Mars or Venus on either side.