Explorations on Mars: History of Events and New Understandings

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The Facts to Life on Mars

Table of Contents










Mars Research



Earth and Mars Comparison


Geologic Features of Mars


Mars Exploration History




Appendix A




References (Images)



This paper will include topics about Mars research, the geology of Mars and the history of missions to Mars.  The appendix is math about Mars.  Mars Research includes Earth Mars comparison, size of Mars, orbital period, distance from the Sun, atmosphere, and weather, and temperature.  Geology of Mars includes topics about the geologic features of Mars that makes Mars itsself.  The geologic features of Mars are red soil, canyons, volcanoes, highlands, and plate tectonics. The exploration history of Mars includes missions that have made it to Mars, and the mission to find life on Mars from Earth. Viking one and two, Mars Pathfinder, Mars exploration rovers, Mars Science Laboratory, and Mars Insight have already conducted research on the Red Planet.  The appendix includes problems about exercising in space, the importance of exercising and the time and thought put into keeping astronauts healthy when returning to Earth.  The next generation spacecraft, the Orion and the parts that make it up.  The reason for space suits and the protection they provide along with math about spacewalks.  Finally driving on the moon and controlling Rovers from Earth.   


Have you ever thought about what it takes to live on Mars?  Have you wondered what events will lead to the inhabitance of Mars?  Nuclear fallout or maybe something out of your favorite movie like Armageddon?  In order to live on mars you have to be willing to give up everything on Earth and live through tough conditions of space and a new planet.  Martian land is very cold or very hot, and you have to live in places you are not exposed to the harmful UV rays and radiation. The research currently being conducted on Mars may lead to sending people to live there and study the red planet further. The Earth Mars comparisons, study of geological features, and the missions to Mars are only the first step to the future of life on Mars. Scientist have learned a lot about mars from Earth, like what they have in common, the geological features, and how to explore Mars from Earth with rovers.

Mars Research

 Mars is the new horizon for humans on Earth and future generations to come.  The information scientist have conducted on Mars without being on the red planet is amazing.  Because of the Martian information, we are learning more about Earth, and how it formed.  Mars has many geologic features that are Earth like but some aspects to Mars are unique to its self. 

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 earth and mars comparison.  Earth and Mars surprisingly have many similarities and there are more being discovered over time.  Mars is considered Earth’s sister planet because of the similarities in geology, and revolution.  Although Mars has so many similarities, there are many differences in weather, atmosphere, and composition.     

size.  Mars is small when comparing it to earth because of the difference in

volume, mass, and overall area.  Mars size is about half of Earth even though Mars is about 10.7% of Earth’s mass (Williams, 2015).  Earth has a large volume of 1,083 cubic kilometers when compared to Mars volume of 163 billion cubic kilometers (Williams, 2015).  Although the size of mars is small, the geologic features are massive.  The volcano Olympus Mons is about three times taller than Mount Everest.  The composition of Mars is similar to Earth but Mars has a crust that is about three times thicker than the crust on Earth.   

orbital period.  The Martian orbit is similar to Earth’s but it has some differences

that create a big impact on weather and seasons.  It takes one year to orbit the sun on Earth but on Mars it about two years.  Although the orbital periods are very different one revolution on Mars is a little over 24 hours, one revolution being 24 hours on Earth.  Mars has a tilt similar to the Earth does that gives Mars varied season but the orbit around the sun is an oval shaped.  The elliptical orbit gives Mars short hot summers and short cold winters when closest to the sun.  When Mars is at its farthest point away from the Sun long mild summers occur along with long cold winters (Choi, Space.com , 2017).  Overtime Mars’s axis will swing because it does not have the stabilization of a large moon like the one Earth has. 

  distance from the sun.  Distance in space is by the standards of Earth; on average the Earth 149,598,261 kilometers away from the sun, that distance is one astronomical unit (Williams, 2015).  Mars is about 1.67 astronomical units away from the sun.  Mars and Earth do not orbit the sun at the same distance throughout the whole orbit; the orbit is elliptical which is an oval shape.  Perihelion is the position at which the planet changes its distance from the Sun as it orbits.  When a planet is closest to the sun it is called perihelion, and the point in which the planet is the greatest distance away from the sun is called aphelion.  Mars orbits the sun with an elongated oval shape resulting in more extreme seasons than Earth.  Earth orbits the sun with an oval shape just not as extreme resulting in even seasons.  The Earth does not have an extreme elliptical orbit to the season are more constant, and less extreme.  Mars orbits the sun with an elongated oval shape resulting in more extreme seasons than Earth.  Earth orbits the sun with an oval shape just not as extreme resulting in even seasons.     

  atmosphere.  The Martian atmosphere is thin when being compared to Earths.  The atmosphere is one of the reason Mars does not have earth like conditions.  The atmosphere on Earth is composed of five different layers, the troposphere, the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and the Exosphere.  The layers of the atmosphere on earth protect us from harmful UV rays.  Because of the atmosphere on Mars, harmful UV rays hit the surface.  Along with UV rays and solar radiation, the lack of atmosphere effects the chances of inhabiting.  Architects have created a way to avoid living underground or in caves by designing housing made out of ice. (INSERT QUOTE BY ARCETECTS) The reason ice is being considered for building housing is because of the abundance of it on Mars, along with the abundance of material, it is also being considered because you can actually see the terrain surrounding you, and the ice effects the temperature of the light giving a more open feeling (Marsvideo). 

Figure 1: Composition of Mars atmosphere (UAS.gov(nd))

weather and temperatures.  The weather on Mars is extreme compared to Earth. 

Although Earth has occasional natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, Mars often has giant dust storms, and extreme weather changes.  The dust storms on Mars can last up to months; a theory on how they start is because of the dust in the air absorbing sun starts to heat up the atmosphere.  Strong wind kicks up more dust repeating the process of heating the atmosphere (Choi, Space.com , 2017).  The seasons on Mars range from long winters so short mild summers.  The reason for the juristic change in weather is the elliptical orbit around the Sun.  Mars gets very far away from the Sun at aphelion making the temperatures mild in the summer and very cold in the winter.  In the winter, the low temperature at the poles is -143 degrees Fahrenheit; during the summer and midday at the equator, the high can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit (Williams, 2015).   The atmosphere on Mars in thick enough to hold clouds of carbon dioxide, and water-ice snow falls.  In the winter, the carbon dioxide freezes out of the air. 

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geologic features of mars.  The surface of Mars is very different from Earth’s, but the geologic features are similar. Mars has valleys, dunes, volcanoes, and canyons. The surface of Mars is what makes it interesting

  red soil.  Mars is known for its red color; often it is called the red planet.  Mars has been given many name because of the red color; Ancient Greeks named it after the god a war Aries because of the blood red color.  Chinese astronomers called it the fire star, and Egyptians named it “Her Desher” which means The Red One (Choi, Space.com , 2017).  The color of Mars is from the soil being iron rich, and has a rusty color because of oxidization.  The red color is similar to arid regions of South America like Chile.  Intense wind storms cause the dust on Mars to create red dust clouds that take many days to clear up effecting visibility of the planet.  The dust creates micro particles in the air that a tawny color to the sky. 

  canyons.  The largest canyon on Earth, The Grand Canyon is nothing to compare with Valles Marineris.  Valles Marineris is ten times larger than The Grand Canyon.  The Valles Marineris is the largest canyon known in the solar system, scientist hypothesize that the ginormous canyon started as a crack as the planet started to cool (NASA, Valles Mareneris: The Grand Canyon of Mars , 2017).  The Valles Marineris is 2500 miles long, about the distance from Los Angeles to New York.  The Valles Marineris is 120 miles wide and seven miles deep (Bodell, 2019).  The Viking Orbiter produces amazing images on how large the canyon is.  Valles Marineris is located in the southern hemisphere of Mars. 

Figure 2: Vales Marineris from view of the Viking (NASA2017)

volcanism.  Mars is the home of Olympus Mons, the king of volcanoes. 

Olympus Mons is located in the Southern Highlands of Mars.  Mars is capable of having huge volcanoes because the hot spots stay on one point and do not move around as they do on Earth.  On Earth, the hotspots move around; a hot spot created the Hawaiian island chain.  Olympus Mons is about the size of the state of Arizona, and over sixteen miles tall, about three times taller than Mount Everest (Bodell, 2019).  The volcano is so large it would take the rover Opportunity over 500 years to drive around the circumference (Betz, 2016).  Olympus Mons is not extremely steep like Mt.  Fuji, if you were to walk up the volcano you would not notice for a while.  Olympus Mons is one peak apart of a giant plateau called the Tharsis Bulge.  There are three additional volcanoes on the plateau, Arsia Mons, Ascraeus Mons, and Pavonis Mons. 

Figure 3: Computer rendering of Olympus Mons (NASA (nd))

highlands. Mars is divided into two regions the northern lowlands, and the

 Southern highlands. The difference in elevation between them is thirty kilometers. The Northern lowlands are smooth suggesting that they are about three billion years old and the south being four billion years old (Astronomytoday). The Tharis Budge is a part of the south side and is more on the equator. The Tharis Buldge is roughly the size of North America.  The cause of the hilly regions of the south is because there have been more impacts.  Impact craters on Mars can range in size but the largest named Hellas Planitia is twenty-three hundred feet deep, and fourteen hundred miles in diameter (Bodell, 2019).

plate tectonics. Plate tectonics on Mars are a mystery because it seems like Mars

does not have plates because the planet cannot hold enough heat to heat the surface and create plates but according to An Yin a professor at UCLA “Mars is at a primitive stage of plate tectonics. It gives us a glimpse of how the early Earth may have looked and may help us understand how plate tectonics began on Earth” (Wolpert, 2012). A reason Mars has evidence for having no tectonic plates is how big Martian volcanoes are. The volcanoes form because the crust is not moving and the magma just keeps going to the surface to for massive volcanoes. Although An Yin has a good point and research to prove his finding it is hard to decide the truth behind the Martian plates. An Yin studied the geologic features around a major fault system on Earth, and compared them to satellite pictures of Mars. Yin found that a smooth flat wall of a canyon could be compared to cliffs in Death Valley, that formed by plate tectonics (Wolpert, 2012). 

 mars exploration history.  Many missions to Mars have occurred since 1960’s half of the missions fail, making hard work and time to get the red planet feel like a waste. Along with the failed attempts, there were many successful missions.  Missions to Mars show us things we wouldn’t know from Earth.

viking1/2.  The Viking one lander is the first successful mission to Mars after

 many attempts were previously made.  The Viking is on a mission to find life on mars or traces of past life.  The Viking is ten feet wide and seven feet tall, the orbiter is eight feet wide and ten feet tall with 32 feet solar panels (Pyle, 2012).  Viking two is a twin of Viking one and will execute an identical mission but on the opposite side of the planet.  The delay in communication is eighteen minuets. The estimated chance of the Viking making it to Mars was a 50/50 chance making the eighteen minuets of waiting for an “ok” from Viking painful.  The Viking travelled through the atmosphere of mars at ten thousand miles per hour. The journey to Mars is four hundred million miles, The Viking landed on July 20, 1976 (Pyle, 2012).


mars insight. Mars InSight is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic

 Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, and that is the exact mission it is on (Klesman, 2018).  Mars InSight will study the interior of Mars and Mars quakes.  Mars InSight will also drill down 3-5 meters into the Martian soil so take samples, and record the heat escaping.  The importance of recording the heat escaping will show what the thermal conditions of Mars and the state it is in. Such a small thing about the Red Planet can reveal hidden secrets about its formation and the geologic features around it (McKinnon, 2018).  Mars Insight launched in a rural farm town called Lompac to avoid passing over cities, when it made its way to Mars it has to land. The challenge of landing on Mars is the this atmosphere can not slow down the incoming objects so engineers have to create ways of slowing down and have a soft landing.


 Begin here


Appendix A

Mathematical Mars

 In order to become and astronaut, or work with state of the art technology you have to be in good health and be able to solve challenging problems.  When is space you have to face the consequences of low gravity and the effects of not exercising when you come back to Earth; Because of that, astronauts are required to use technology made by engineers that allow them to exercise in low gravity but simulate the effects of gravity.  

 exercising in space.  Exercising in space is a key aspect to being an astronaut; Exercising will help prevent the loss of muscle and bone decay.  A countermeasure is something that help prevent a certain outcome; Exercising is a countermeasure to bone density loss and muscle loss.  Biomedical Engineering (BME) supports medical hardware, the flight surgeon, and adjusts the equipment if anything unexpected goes wrong.  Astronauts spend about two and a half hours exercising six times a week in order to prevent medical issues.  The astronaut’s three main machines for exercising in low gravity are the Treadmill 2 (T2) or COLBERT, the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation (CEVIS), and the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED).  T2 is a treadmill that prevents bone loss; the treadmill uses a harness like device to keep the user on the treadmill.  CEVIS a stationary bike connected with tethers to reduce the vibrations from impact.  Astronauts using the bike snap their shoes to the pedals to prevent them from coming off.  ARED simulates weight lifting and created a sense of gravity for the user.  The Miniature Exercise Device The miniature exercise device two (MED2) is a 65 pound machine that will be used in future space missions.  MED2 is about the size of a large backpack.  The reason the MED2 might go to space is the size of it, and because you can change the weight load.  The size of the current exercise equipment in space is quite large in mass, so the MED2 will be added as a new activity to conserver space and because of the low weight.  CEVIS is a stationary bike that has adjustable load sizes with a reference card.  The goal of the astronauts is to complete their prescribed time and load for exercising.  The relationship between power and voltage is the amount of power depends on the voltage.  For every volt, the CEVIS it produces 41.67 watts of power.  The independent variable of the machine is volts and the dependent is power.  The constant variation or the slope is 41.67.  In contexts to the problem, 41.67 is the amount of power per volt.  A specific equation I used is k=y/x to find the slope, I plugged in 50 for y and 1.2 for x and got 41.67 for k.     

 next generation spacecraft- orion.  Humans exploring space and especially Mars will be very beneficial to science along with the evolution of the human race becoming a multi planet species.  When humans go to Mars, there will be a completely new way to life and a new world to explore.  The research conducted on Mars can lead to a better understanding of Earth and the planets around it.  The Orion is a spacecraft that will be able to take people to Mars; the main part is the module that carries the crew and cargo.  The Orion incorporates technology in order to execute missions.  Some technology incorporated in the Orion is an avionic systems, unique life support, propulsion, and thermal protection.  The technology used allows for future technical innovations.  The goal of Orion is to take people to Mars and beyond.  The Orion will be able to complete that mission by having additional life support and propulsion.  The Orion has four main parts; 1) the spacecraft adapter, 2) service module, 3) crew module, and the 4) launch abort system.  The spacecraft adapter is a structural transition to vehicle launch.  The service module provides production, fluid storage, and electrical power.  The passengers of the Orion are in the crew module along with cargo.  Launch abort system is an emergency escape during a launch. 

 A vertical cross section is like a slice of a 3D object; For example, the vertical cross

section of a sphere is a circle.  The decomposition method for finding the area is breaking up a complex or organic shape with geometric shapes that have an area that is easy to find like triangles and recta.  I applied the decomposition method to this project by putting a rectangle around the module then filling the remaining space with four triangles.  When I find the area of the triangles, I subtract them from the area of the rectangle to get the total area of the module.  The counting method for finding the area is counting all the square units inside the module when it is on a graph.  When you count the squares, you get an estimation that will not be exact because the module is an organic shape and there are fractions of squares remaining.  I found my percent error for my estimation by dividing my area by the actual area given.  My percentage of error for the estimation is 4%, and my error in the decomposition is 1%.  The group I compared answers with is off by 2% on their estimation, and 3% off the decomposition.  The shapes I used were a large rectangle with the area of 16.537m2.  I used four triangles of two different sizes, the first two have an area of 1.959m2, and the second two have an area of 0.413m2.  I subtracted the total of the triangles (4.744m2) from the area of the rectangle (16.537m2) being left with the total area of the module (11.793).  I found that the best method for finding the area of the module is the decomposition method because the answer I got was more precise. 

 suit yourself.  The Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA) officer is in charge of a spacewalk and everything that goes into it.  When on a spacewalk you have to wear an Extra Vehicular Mobility Unit (EMU). The EMU protects astronauts from the vacuum of space because it is pressurized. The EMU keeps astronauts alive by providing habitable pressure, breathing air, protection from the harsh environment, and heating and cooling. The dangers of space is the temperatures ranging from -148 degrees Fahrenheit to 248 degrees Fahrenheit.  When people are in the ISS, it is travelling 17227 miles per hour.  In order to so on a spacewalk you have to have an EMU on and it takes about 45 minutes to put on.  If you were to go out into space without a suit on you would be unconscious in 15 seconds due to the lack of oxygen.  For eight years, American astronauts had to rely of Russia for transportation up to the ISS, but a new docking port attached to the ISS will allow American astronauts to launch out of Florida.

 The relationship between the oxygen use rate and the slope is that the rate in which oxygen is used is the slope.  The meaning of a Y-intercept and  an X-intercept in context of a spacewalk is the point where you start with a certain amount of oxygen and when you have no more oxygen.  The Y-intercept shows how much oxygen you start with Astronaut 1 starts with 906 psi in the tank and Astronaut 2 starts with 859psi. in their tank.  The X-intercept shows how long they have been out when they hit 0psi.  The reason oxygen use rates are different for the two astronauts is because one astronaut is going to be doing more vigorous activities and will breath harder while the other astronaut has an easier job and will not have to breath hard.  A way to find how long the astronauts can be on a spacewalk with the air in their tank is by creating an equation; Astronaut one’s equation is p=-110t+906 and astronaut two’s equation is p=-85t +859. The variable “p” represents pressure per square inch (psi), and “t” represents time in hours.  To find out how long they can stay in space you can plug in 0 for p in both equations. The substitution method is used to find the point in time when the astronauts have the same psi in their tank.  The substitution method is when you make two equations equal to each other to find when the like intersects because the equation used a linear equation.

lunar rover.  A lunar roving vehicle (LVR) is a vehicle that allows astronauts to venture farther away from their landing spot. The walk back limit is how far you can travel by LVR and be able to walk back if it breaks down without running out of resources.  The difference between future rovers and the current rovers is that the future rovers are pressurized. Three rovers that have been to Mars are Viking 1 and 2, and Curiosity.  Rovers steer by specific commands or it is allowed to think on its own if the terrain is safe. Curiosity is powered by nuclear power.

The mission is to get to a crater to take rock samples and back to a seismic sensor; the goal is to find what way is the shortest distance.  The math concept used is the Pythagorean Theorem to find the distances traveled.  I solved the problem by finding the hypotenuse of multiple triangles that equaled the distance traveled.   I used A2+B2=C2 to find the first distance √(11km)2 (28.5km)2 then I added the answer to √(8km)2+(17km)2 to get a total distance of 49.337 kilometers.  I wrote an equation in the terms of “n” by deciding what the variable that is changing is.  The variable that is changing is the point that you collect samples at the crater. When you replace that point with “n”, you get (0, n).  You continue to find where the crater point is and replace it with “n”.   I related algebra to the graphing by using an algebraic equation to find where I need to graph the distances traveled.   


  • Betz, E. (2016, June). Tharsis valcano made Mars tip over. p. 11.
  • Bodell, J. (2019). Geology of Mars. Boise.
  • Choi, C. Q. (2017, October 7). Mars facts: life, water and robots on the red planet. Retrieved from Space.com: https://www.space.com/47-mars-the-red-planet-fourth-planet-from-the-sun.html
  • Choi, C. Q. (2017, October 10). Space.com . Retrieved from Space.com : https://www.space.com/47-mars-the-red-planet-fourth-planet-from-the-sun.html
  • Klesman, A. (2018, September). Nasa Successfully launches Mars InSight, GRACE-FO mission. p. 14.
  • McKinnon, M. (2018, December 5). Marsquake mission blast off .
  • NASA. (2017, August 7). Valles Mareneris: The Grand Canyon of Mars . Retrieved from nasa.gov: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_83.html
  • NASA. (2017, august 7). Valles marineris: the grand canyon of mars. Retrieved from NASA.gov: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_83.html
  • NASA. (2017, august 7). Valles marineris: the grand canyon of mars . Retrieved from NASA.gov: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/marsglobe1.jpg
  • Pyle, R. (2012). Destination Mars: New Explorations of the Red Planet. ???????: Prometheus Books .
  • Redd, N. T. (2017, December 8). Olympus Mons: giant mountain of Mars. Retrieved January 14, 2019, from space.com: https://www.space.com/20133-olympus-mons-giant-mountain-of-mars.html
  • Williams, M. (2015, December 5). Universe Today Space and Astronomy News . Retrieved from Universe Today : https://www.universetoday.com/22603/mars-compared-to-earth/
  • Wolpert, S. (2012, August 09). UCLA Newsroom . Retrieved from UCLA: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-scientist-discovers-plate-237303

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