Mars in Greek is the God of war. Mars is sometimes referred to as the Red Planet as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. Though Mars is much smaller than Earth, its surface area is about the same as the land surface area of Earth.
The first spacecraft to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Several others followed including Mars 2, the first spacecraft to land on Mars and the two Viking landers in 1976. Ending a long 20 year hiatus, Mars Pathfinder landed successfully on Mars on 1997 July 4. In 2004 the Mars Expedition Rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity” landed on Mars sending back geologic data and many pictures; they are still operating after more than three years on Mars. In 2008, Phoenix landed in the northern plains to search for water. Three Mars orbiters (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Express) are also currently in operation.
The Phoenix lander returned data showing Martian soil to be slightly alkaline and containing elements such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and chlorine. These nutrients are found in gardens on Earth, and are necessary for growth of plants. Experiments performed by the Lander showed that the Martian soil has a basic pH of 8.3, and may contain traces of the salt perchlorate.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, one of the twin rovers that bounced to airbag-cushioned safe landings on Mars nine years ago this week (1/22/2013), is currently examining veined rocks on the rim of an ancient crater.
Since then, the mission’s team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has driven Opportunity across the plains of Meridiani to successively larger craters for access to material naturally exposed from deeper, older layers of Martian history.
Opportunity has operated on Mars 36 times longer than the three months planned as its prime mission.
Today is 16, April 2013 and the NASA exploration rover is still there and will send us updates until it dies I suppose. I am getting the latest news about Mars since it’s the most planet now they are following it and informing us what the latest news are.