There have been plenty of missions to Mars over the years, but why are scientists so excited about going to Mars?
Isn’t it just a big empty planet with nothing on it?
Why is Mars so interesting?
Mars is about half the size of earth but has a lot of things in common. It has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons and an atmosphere, just like Earth!
Mar’s atmosphere is very thin, though, so don’t think you could go there and build a house on it! You would still need a space suit and take plenty of oxygen to breathe.
Because Mars has lots in common with Earth, scientists think they might be able to find traces of life on Mars! That’s why exploring Mars is so exciting.
Down here on Earth, we have found micro-organisms living in some of the impossible places – like deep underground or in places that are super hot! And scientists believe that if micro-organisms can survive in those places here on Earth, then perhaps micro-organisms like them might be able to live on Mars.
So just because no one’s seen signs of life yet, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any – either in the past or now. We just might not have found them yet!!
So is there anything going to Mars soon?
Yes! The European Space Agency is getting ready to launch the second phase of the ExoMars mission. It uses technology developed in the UK and which is funded by the UK Space Agency.
The mission is going to send a rover called Rosalind Franklin to Mars.
The Rosalind Franklin rover will analyse rock samples, search for water and study the local weather.
What is the Rosalind Franklin rover looking for?
The rover is looking for signs of life such as methane, this is a chemical that usually means that there’s life around.
The rover has a big drill on it so it can look for signs of life underground – a bit like Brain’s The Mole! Because Mars has been bombarded with radiation and meteors, which will have killed off anything on the surface, Rosalind the Rover will need to dig down under the surface to see if it can find anything under the surface.
Are there any signs of life on Mars we’ve already found?
Yes! Water is a big tick in the ‘signs of life’ box and water has been found frozen under the Mars surface.
Scientists also think that water used to flow on the surface of Mars, they can tell from the way the terrain looks.
Thunderbirds Are Go: Mission To Mars
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