CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. -In our solar family, Mars is the closest family to Earth, an adjoining relative that has fascinated humans for centuries. This attraction is sure to develop with the arrival of NASA pendar named InSight on Monday.
InSight must provide our best view on the inside of Mars, use mechanical moles to dig 5 meters deep to measure internal heat, and seismometers to register earthquakes, meteorite attacks, and anything that might trigger red planetary shaking.
Scientists consider Mars a tempting time capsule. This is geologically less active than the Earth that is twice as large and still retains much of its early history. By studying the preserved heart of Mars, InSight can teach us how the rocky planets of our solar system formed 4 1/2 billion years ago and why they change so differently.
"Venus is hot enough to melt tin. Mercury has a sunburned surface. Mars is quite cold today. But the Earth is a good place to vacation, so we really want to know why one planet goes one way, another planet goes another way, "said InSight principal scientist Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Today's Earthlings are lured to Mars for various reasons.
"Trying to understand how life is – or distributed to our solar system is one of the main questions we have," Glaze said at a press conference Wednesday.
"Are we alone? Are we alone in the past?"
In two years, NASA will really look for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars – if there really is one.
On Monday, the space agency announced Jezero Crater as the landing site for Mars 2020 rover, which would collect samples and save them to return to Earth in the early 2030s. Ancient lakes and crater river systems are full of diverse rocks, making it a potential place for past life.
Repeat, past life. Not present.
Michael Meyer, NASA's principal scientist for Mars exploration, said the surface of Mars was too cold and dry, with too many radiation attacks, for the rest of its life to date.
Note the observations of Mars – about double the size of the Earth's moon – dates back to ancient Egypt. But only in the 19th century did Mars mania really begin to develop.
Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli began mapping Mars in the 1870s and described the channel observed as "canali" – Italian for channels. But with the Suez Canal recently completed in many minds, "canali" became understood as an alien-made canal.
Adding to the commotion, US astronomer behind the Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona, Percival Lowell, decided the channel was carrying water from the poles to intelligent civilizations that lived near the equator.
Lowell contemplation affects H.G. Wells, the author of "The War of the Worlds" in 1898. The 1938 radio broadcast of a science fiction novel scared many Americans who thought the Martians really invaded.
1950's classic novel Ray Bradbury, "The Martian Chronicles," maintains the momentum of Mars.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the founder of SpaceX and science fiction fan Elon Musk lead a real charge to Mars. He imagined hundreds of thousands of people flowing to Mars on the giant ship SpaceX and colonizing the red planet to continue the species.
Just last week, Musk revealed a new name for the planetary and rocket ship: Starship and Super Heavy.
Musk is very passionate about Mars so he hopes to die there someday, even though he doesn't emphasize the impact.
While NASA has survived for its own Mars mission with the crew, it has turned its attention faster back to the moon. A post that orbits near the moon can function as an embarkation point for the surface of the moon and even Mars, according to officials. It will also function as a place of close-to-home verification before astronauts zoom 100 million miles to Mars.
All observations and reports coming back from NASA robotic explorers on Mars will help human Mars pioneers, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, head of science missions for NASA.
That is the charm of Mars, according to scientists.
Going to Mars is a "dream," said Philippe Laudet of the French Space Agency, project manager for InSight seismometers. "Everything is charming."