• Mars – the Search for Martians

    The planet Mars has been named by many of Earth’s civilizations, including Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and many others, and almost always it has been named after a god of war or fire.  This is due to what is now known to be iron oxide, (what most of us know as rust) which gives the planet its reddish color.  TheRed Planet has fired the imagination of generations, both the scientists and the dreamers.

    Those of us who grew up with Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein had good reason to suppose that intelligent Martians might very well exist.  H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, about Martians invading Earth because their planet was dying, caused a serious panic when it was broadcast as radio news in 1938.

    However, there were no Martians, and based on the latest exploration by satellite probes and land rovers on Mars’ surface, there never have been – or could be.  The “fiery” red planet has been observed and photographed ‘close up’ and actual samples have been taken in various sites on the surface and in the atmosphere.

    Mars appears to be lifeless and covered with dust, which swirls in the solar winds to form dust storms that make the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s seem like a polite sneeze.  The atmosphere is so thin that water cannot retain its liquid form.  However, the latest findings indicate that at some time long ago the atmosphere was denser and surface water probably existed.

    The ‘canals’ that some speculated to be a means of irrigation by intelligent beings turned out to be channels, gullies and canyons, which most scientists believe were formed by water.  Great quantities of water ice have also been discovered beneath the surface of Mars, and caves of unknown depth that may, as some believe and many hope, may yet harbor some form of life.