Science News

Missons to Mars!

Mon, 11th Nov 2013

Hannah Critchlow

Part of the show Stopping Multiple Sclerosis

On the 5th November, Bonfire Night, there were a lot of rockets going bang in the sky. Over India, however, there was one rocket that didn't explode. Instead it's making it's way to Mars! In two weeks time a second space craft will be leaving Earth, this time from America, but again heading to Mars. So why is there so much traffic to this little red planet right now?solar system

Earth and Mars orbit the sun on different trajectories. Sometimes they are up to 200 million km apart, and others a mere 75 million km apart. America and India are sending rockets up during the current launch window to take advantage of the relatively smaller distance between the planets.

But what will the space craft do once there? They will act as sniffer dogs, probing the atmosphere in the orbit to try to find out what happened around 4 billion years ago to cause Marís atmosphere to drastically change and decrease in pressure.

We know that Mars used to have an atmosphere much more similar to ours here on Earth, as on Marís surface a dried out river beds indicating water used to be in liquid form there about 4 billion years ago. These craft are sniffing the atmosphere to try to find out what happened to cause such drastic climate change. These findings might be relevant to Earth, as we are currently facing some significant climate change threats.

Both craft are also taking photography equipment with them. They should reach Mars next September (2014) so we should receive some lovely up close images of the little red planet, and the view of Earth from there, then.

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