“They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially ‘colonized’ it. So technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!” -Andy Weir
In the early 1960s, humanity began launching spacecraft to Mars, hoping to find out what the red planet was truly like. While early images revealed a heavily cratered surface, similar to that of the Moon, that turned out to be reflective of only a portion of the surface. Mars contains dust storms, basins, extinct volcanoes and the largest chasm of any planet in the Solar System.
A dust storm on Mars, a common occurrence during the Martian summers. These storms were first discovered by the Mariner 9 mission in 1971. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Since landing on Mars, we’ve now discovered intricate surface features, including evidence for frozen water, atmospheric water vapor, and even flowing, briny surface water in places. Where there’s water and the right organic ingredients, there should be life, right? After half a century of inconclusive results, ESA’s ExoMars Rover and NASA’s Mars 2020 may finally have the right stuff to find out for sure!
Relic microbes revealed by a scanning electron microscope in the ALH84001 meteorite, which originated on ...