Mars is the planet that has the most similarities with the Earth, but we do not yet have the technical and financial means to send men. So with robots we visit Mars and the robots, one after the other, we show the tumultuous past of Mars. March hosted oceans but they are gradually evaporated.
The question scientists want to solve is, is that life appeared on Earth and on Mars at the same time?
Since 1962, Mars is visited by many probes and robots that have approached this planet with more or less success. Mars is the only planet that we can see the ground from our terrestrial observations. The public who are watching the mysterious planet in a telescope, thinks it will see magnificent color photographs. But it is only thanks to landing robots on Mars that we can admire actual images of the Martian soil.
1962: Soviet probe Mars 1 is the first to fly over Mars June 19, 1963, at a distance of about 193 000 km. But radio contact was lost before the Mars flyby. March 21, 1963, when it is at a distance of 106,760,000 kilometers from Earth, March 1 loses all contact with Earth ending the mission.
1965: the U.S. probe Mariner 4 is the fourth in a series of probes for interplanetary exploration flight over Mars. It is it which sent to Earth the first images of the Martian as well as some photos and data of temperature and pressure surface.
1969: U.S. probe Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 showed the southern cap of Mars. Mariner 6 flew over the southern hemisphere of Mars at an altitude of 3429 km, 31 July 1969, took 75 photos and measured a pressure of 6 mbar and temperatures ranging from - 125 ° C to - 73 ° C. Mariner 7 launched March 27, 1969, succeeded to August 5, 1969 and sent 126 pictures of the Martian soil.
1971: the U.S. probe Mariner 9 was launched to Mars 30 May 1971 and reached the planet 14 November 1971. It photographed the planet Mars for nearly a year, and Phobos and Deimos, the Martian moons. Mariner 9 is elliptical orbit around Mars (apogee ≈ 17,500 km, perigee 1394 km), a month earlier than the Soviet probes on March 2 and March 3. Mariner 9 will crush itself on Mars by 2022.
1971: Soviet probes on Mars 2 and Mars 3, are the first probes placed in orbit around the red planet. March 2 crashed on Mars but despite everything, the first vehicle to hit Mars. March 2, during its 362 orbits around Mars, from December 1971 to August 1972, sent a huge volume of data to Earth. March 3, launched May 28, 1971, dropped 2 December 1971 a descent module that arrive intact on the Martian surface, using a parachute and retro rockets. But the probe is the victim of a fatal breakdown, after deploying its instruments. However on March 3 remains the first land vehicle to have landed softly on Mars.
1974: Soviet probe Mars 5 sent the first data on the composition of the Martian soil. The Soviet probe was able to put on an equatorial elliptical orbit (apogee 32,560 km and perigee 1,760 km). The probe sent 60 images of the surface of the planet and discovered the ozone belt that surrounds the planet at 30 km altitude.
1976: U.S. probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 are the first probe to land on Mars. They found no signs of life, but photographed the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos. Program Viking 1 Orbiter was arrested Aug. 17, 1980 after 1,485 revolutions around Mars. Viking 2 operation until July 25, 1978, providing nearly 16,000 images of the planet taken over 706 revolutions.
1989: Soviet probe Phobos 2 was dedicated to the study of the planet Mars and its two moons, Phobos and Deimos. The global Phobos program should use two probes launched in 1988 and 1989, but both Phobos 1 and Phobos 2 probes, have lost contact with Earth. Phobos 2 only managed to put in orbit around Mars and sent 38 photos.
1996: U.S. Mars Global Surveyor lasted nearly 10 years and has completed the mapping of Mars. It detected crevasses carved by water. Its mission lasted so long that the probe was in April 2005, taking pictures of other starships in orbit around the Red Planet, Mars Odyssey and Mars Express. Mars Global Surveyor was extinguished Nov. 9, 2006.
1997: U.S. probe Mars Pathfinder is the fourth vehicle to land on the soil of Mars. Its motorized robot Sojourner discovered that Mars had liquid water and a denser atmosphere than expected. The probe was launched on 4 December 1996, a month after the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. It traveled seven months in interplanetary space to reach Mars. It finally landed on Ares Vallis in Chryse Planitia region.
1998: Mars Climate Orbiter, launched December 11, 1998, is the first probe to Mars Surveyor 98 Orbiter. September 23, 1999, it ignited in atmospheric turbulence during its orbit around Mars at only 57 km from the surface. Some parameters were calculated in units of imperial (non-SI units) measurement and transmitted to the navigation team, which expected data in the metric system.
1999: U.S. probe Mars Polar Lander (Mars Surveyor '98 Orbiter) launched January 3, 1999, reached Mars on 3 December 1999. The mission was to study the soil and climate of Planum Australe, a region near the south pole of Mars. After the descent phase, communications were lost, the probe might hit the ground at high speed.
2001: U.S. probe Mars Odyssey would draw a map of the distribution of minerals and chemical elements on the surface of Mars and detect the possible presence of water. It showed large amounts of ice stored in the two poles and small amounts midlatitudes. The crust of the planet including twice contain more potassium than the Earth's crust. The study confirmed that the main elements necessary for the emergence of life were presents on Mars.
2004: the European Mars Express spacecraft has confirmed the presence of ice in the poles and methane into the atmosphere. The Beagle 2 probe, which was to land and to detect possible traces of life was lost. However Mars Express has got many scientific results which confirm the presence of liquid water in the Martian past, observing the seasonal cycle of water, three-dimensional mapping of relief. Mission for an initial period of 23 months has been extended several times and is to end in 2014.
2004: U.S. probe Mars Exploration Rover launched in 2003, was composed of two motorized rovers Spirit and Opportunity. The three-month mission lasted six years and during those six years, the rover has sent more than 124,000 images on Earth. By searching geological evidence from the period when the water was in liquid form, the mission confirmed that Mars formerly housed salty oceans. Still one mission whose objective was to determine whether the Martian environment could be conducive to life.
2006: U.S. probe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched August 12, 2005, detected ice at the bottom of craters at a relatively low latitude, as well as several minerals associated with water. The initial mission that had to stop in December 2008 has been extended until 2015. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has collected data to prepare the ground for landing future robots, like Phoenix, launched in 2007, and Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, launched in 2011.
2008: U.S. probe Phoenix, whose objective was an official statement "investigate the history of liquid water that may have existed in the Martian arctic as recently there has only 100,000 years," has confirm the presence of frost water, but it is looking for microbial life, which scientists are developing all these missions on the Martian soil. On 25 May 2008, Phoenix landed softly on the floor of the red planet, near the north polar cap, in the region of Vastitas Borealis located at 68 ° north latitude and 233 ° east longitude. From Phoenix, all other robots will have like it a robotic arm to dig up permafrost ever greater depths.
2012: U.S. probe Mars Science Laboratory equipped with the famous motorized robot Curiosity has as objective a heavy task, increasingly displayed that of finding traces of past or present life on Mars but other tasks are already scheduled to lift the secrets life.
November 18, 2013: MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) is an American spacecraft whose mission is to analyze the atmosphere held (170 times weaker than on Earth) of Mars. MAVEN orbiter large (2.55 tons, 11 meters wide) is placed into an elliptical low Earth orbit (150 km to 5000 km) that allows it to pass through all regions of the residual Martian atmosphere and plunge in relatively dense layers. There are about 4 billion years ago, Mars had a dense enough to allow the presence of liquid water on its surface atmosphere. MAVEN seeks to understand why the solar wind gradually blown this atmosphere.
November 5, 2013: MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) is an Indian spacecraft piloted by the Indian Space Agency (ISRO). MOM, India's first Mars probe, reached the planet on September 23 2014. Equipped to find traces of methane in the Martian atmosphere, it will orbit for 6 months at about 500 km altitude. The presence of methane accredit the hypothesis of a primitive life forms on the planet.
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Image: On 6 August 2012, Curiosity landed like a feather on Mars with "parachute" 21 meters in diameter, fitted with retro rockets. Martian machines are becoming larger, Curiosity has a mass of 899 kg compared to 400 kg of Phoenix, 174 kg rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and only 10.6 kg for Sojourner. Its size allows it to embark 75 kg of instruments increasingly sophisticated.
Photo: Reuters, Nasa.
Image: The sunset on Mars forms part of vast heritage of images captured by Spirit, the robot Mars Explorer Rovers. This image was recorded May 19, 2005.
Image: Tectonic faulting eroded in the region to Candor Chasma in Valles Marineris. You can see erosion by flowing along faults. Picture taken December 2, 2006 by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, it covers an area of one kilometer wide. Credit: NASA.