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Missions To Mars
When people look at the advancement of the sciences and technology, one can only admit that by standing on the shoulders of giants human civilization has learned so much about its environment. To be able to pierce the dark curtain of space is a powerful reality that shows how much risk humans are willing to take to see what makes everything around us work.
It's also true that exploration is a result of human nature’s curiosity of the world around it. For decades this has been true, as human culture has left behind a history of achieving great things, one of them being the sights it has set for the planet Mars.
The First Mission To Mars
In November of 1964, under President Lyndon Johnson, a very ambitious project was launched into space called Mariner 4, which would conduct the first flyby of the red planet by July in the following year.
The data collected of the Mars surface was the first ever collected on Earth, which for today’s standards is quite surprising as the data was only 634 kB in size. Nonetheless the images of the surface helped give scientists and the imagination of many people something to aid their research of a distant, never before discovered planet.
The Mariner would not last as it became damaged by micrometeors and would eventually lose power.
It would have to be another three decades before explorers became fascinated enough by the data to come back and explore Mars again. The field of study was not very well funded and many programs were cancelled leaving explorers with nothing more than dreams to hold onto. Studying the images they had collected from the first missions while other nations threatened attempts to reach the planet without the involvement of the United States.
This was just as well because it was also very clear that the technology to reach the planet and study it further was limited and too risky to attempt. It would be a matter of time before the urge for exploration would begin to peak and create endless possibilities.
If thirty years was all the time explorers and scientists needed to build up momentum and curiosity for Mars, it was more than enough. In 2001, NASA returned with the Mars Odyssey orbiter, which provided more than just low quality black and white photos. These were larger and more detailed images of the surface for:
- Geological Studies
- Evidence Of Water
- Planning Future Surface Landing
Almost as soon as this first orbiter since 1964 had been launched, more projects were being scheduled, each one more challenging than the one before. Since the beginning of the twenty first century, several orbiters and rovers have been sent to and even on the Martian surface, stunning the world with never before seen footage of an alien world and more are being planned and scheduled at an alarming rate.
Mars Is The Future
Already fourteen years since explorers have been studying Mars, they have also been very active in making their dreams to colonize Mars the next step. A private company referred to as Mars One is already planning to send people to the surface as pioneers to begin terra-forming, in a one-way mission. There has been much skepticism about those plans however, as the months pass more aerospace companies and engineers have begun to join the program to make that dream into a reality by 2023.
"Mission To Mars" Essay
Over the years there have been many missions to mars, some were very successful, while others were not. All of these missions have been for the purpose of photographing the planet, and bringing back as much new information as possible on every aspect of Mars. Over the years these missions have evolved from simply flying by the planet and taking pictures to actually landing on the surface and deploying mobile units which can better analyze the surface. Astronomers are already hard at work on future missions to mars which include studying the geology of mars, and possibly bringing back samples to be analyzed here on earth. Looking back on past missions, Mars is indeed very interesting to study, and it is very intriguing to look at future missions which are planned in terms of what we may discover.
The very first missions involving Mars were known as Flybys. These first missions simply flew by Mars and took as many pictures as possible. The first three attempted flybys occurred in the early 60's by Russia. None of these missions were named, and only the third one actually achieved earths orbit and failed from there. The next attempted missions also came out of Russia, but the radio failed at approximately 66 million miles from earth (Bond). After all of these failed attempts the United States finally got into the act when they created the Mariner 3 and the Mariner 4. The Mariners were all relatively small robotic explorers, each launched on an Atlas rocket with either an Agena or Centaur upper-stage booster, and weighing less than half a ton. The Mariner 3 was launched on November 5, 1964, but the shroud encasing the spacecraft atop its rocket failed to open properly, and Mariner 3 did not get to Mars. Three weeks later, on November 28, 1964, Mariner 4 was launched successfully on an eight-month voyage to the red planet. The spacecraft flew by Mars on July 14, 1965 and marked the first close-up pictures ever taken of another planet. The pictures which were played back from a small tape recorder over a long period of time showed lunar-like impact craters, some of them covered with frost in the cold Martian evening. The Mariner 4 was not expected to last much longer than the eight month journey, but it actually survived its Mars flyby for about 3 years. This allowed Astronomers to continue long-term studies of the solar wind environment and make coordinated measurements with Mariner 5, a sister ship launched to Venus in 1967. After the Mariner 4, there was another failed mission by the Russians, and then the very successfully Mariner 6 and 7 missions. It was 1969 when these Mariners launched they both sent back over 200 pictures combined. They also flew by the equator and south polar regions, as well as analyzing the atmosphere and surface with remote sensors (NASA's...). These final flyby missions paved the way for the next stage of Mars exploration, the orbiters.
As technologies advanced, and knowledge of Mars improved, they began...
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