Learn about the similarities between earth and Mars. Also learn about the Mars expeditions to find water on Mars.
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The Similarities Between Mars and Earth We do not know if life has evolved outside our own planet. Of all the planets in the solar system, it is Mars that has an environment most likely earth. Like earth, it has a rocky surface and its gravitation is similar in strength to our own planet which means Mars also holds an atmosphere. But does it have water? For decades, we have been sending probes to mars to learn more about the environment in our neighboring planet. Orbiters, landers and rovers have been to Mars all looking for water, the essential factor needed for life. Its surface has valleys and desserts but it is dry with an average temperature of 50 degrees below zero. There are signs of erosion that look like they could have been carved by water. An Olympus Mons the highest mountain in the solar system is a volcano but is it still active? In 2001, Mars Odyssey went into orbit around the red planet. One of its tasks was to map the planet’s geological composition. Mars Odyssey’s Gamma Ray Spectrometer could detect the presence of 20 elements and its neutron detectors would look for water and ice in the soil. Planetary geologists already knew Mars’s ice caps were frozen carbon dioxide and the search for Martian water would focus on the poles. Odyssey’s instruments found strong indications that water ice laid just below some parts of the planet’s surface. The space craft was directed to look for chemical evidence of water which should be recognizable because of its high hydrogen content. Hydrogen quickly combined with other the elements. So if it is found on a cold of planet, it is very likely to have teamed up with oxygen to form water. Researchers were surprised to get such a strong indication that ice was present but they could not be certain about exactly how much water was there. Estimates varied between enough water to fill several large lakes to a frozen underground ocean. Odyssey’s sensors could not show how far down the ice extended and skeptic said the probes findings were circumstantial and could be explained by other factors. The planet’s poles were giving indications of an abundance of ice but the international team of scientist was concerned that much more work would need to be done to confirm that Odyssey’s instrument had really found evidence of water ice. Scientists became fascinated by what finding made for the understanding of the weather and geology of Mars. It seems to have once had water on the surface—lots of it. There are places that look like dried up lake so as seabeds. Researchers began speculating that liquid water could exist in deep canyons. Work began on new Mars missions that could positively identify water or ice on the planet. The European Space Agency was preparing a two part craft. Mars Express would go into orbit around the red planet and release a landing craft called Beagle 2. And the United States was working on a pair of rovers. The space craft would land at different sites that appeared to have been affected by liquid water. They would be able to analyze rocks and soil. And being mobile, they would be able to seek out interesting features. To refine a rover design, the American space agency NASA took a prototype to the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is the driest place on earth. Rainfall is measured in millimeters per decade. Though it’s much warmer than Mars, it’s the best place on our planet to test the Mars rover. Zoe is pioneering new technologies of both robot mechanics and ways to detect the life. Cameras act as eyes to track the terrain and she is powered by solar panels. By understanding the abstract limits of life on earth, scientists hoped their search for life on other planets such as Mars will be more likely to succeed. The rover must be able to act with a degree of autonomy that allows it to solve problems in plotting a path to its target area. Each morning, a remote team gives the instructions for the days work. On this day, the test are centering on testing Zoe’s skill at n