Mars: A Last Frontier Essay

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Mars: A Last Frontier

ABSTRACT: In this paper, I will attempt to present a general discussion of Mars and attempt to explain some of the history and reasons why Mars has been a fixture of human imagination. Ultimately, I hope that my overview will help the reader understand Mars and what is fact and science fiction concerning the possibilities of traveling, living on, and discovering life on Mars.

Mars has once again gained national notoriety and graced the front pages of many popular magazines in recent months. The possibility that life existed on Mars has gotten the science community in a frenzy over renewed possibilities for continued exploration of this mysterious planet. New evidence of life on Mars is hinged on the
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Other instances of the topic of Mars creeping into pop culture include Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land and movies such as Total Recall, Invaders from Mars , and even Abbott and Costello Go to Mars.

The idea of traveling to Mars is not new. In fact, the United States and the Soviet Union have already sent unmanned missions to Mars. Sixteen U.S. and Soviet space missions have landed on, orbited or flown by Mars since 1962 (http://mgs-www.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/mgsbroca.html). In 1971, the U.S. Mariner 9 began a one year orbital around Mars taking photographs of the planets topography. In 1975, the United States launched U.S. Viking 1 and Viking 2, which landed on Mars. The purpose of the Viking missions was to collect soil samples from Mars to determine whether life existed on Mars. The samples from these missions do not give any evidence of life on Mars, but they do not rule out the possibility either. Scientists believe that a broader, more extensive sampling may provide evidence of life on Mars. These missions conducted by the United States in the seventies were largely incomplete as scientists still had many questions concerning the nature and history of Mars. Earlier this decade, the United States sent the Mars Explorer to help solve many of these unanswered questions (http://mgs-www.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/mgsbroca.html). However, the spacecraft was lost in 1993 as it entered the Martian atmosphere. As a result, many of these questions remain unanswered

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