Sample Astronomy Essay on Exploration of the Mars

Exploration of the Mars

Mars is one of the nine planets in the universe. For many years, man has been interested in exploring the planet with the view of establishing whether life and important minerals exist on it. Explorations have also centered on establishing whether the planet can support life. Its exploration started in 1600 after the development of the first telescope. However, these explorations did not intensify until the 1960s when technological advancements allowed for the development of advanced and more efficient equipment for space exploration. The Soviet Union was the first country to express interest in exploring the planet and carried out the first exploration effort in the 1960s (Howell par. 2).
The color changes spotted on the planet over time also led to increased interests in the planet. After Soviet Union expressed interests on the Mars, USA followed and managed to outdo Soviet Union on this venture. However, this only sparked a greater interest from the Soviet Union leading to space exploration wars as the two adversaries sought to outdo each other (Carson 148). This essay evaluates the progress made towards exploration of Mars and the challenges it has encountered. It will highlight some of the technologies and spacecrafts used in the exploration.

The exploration of the Mars has over the years increased in intensity with more countries and agencies sending spacecrafts to Mars while others have partnered towards the same. However, despite the advanced technologies and financial support, the venture has proved to be complicated. The United States, Europe, Russia and Japan have joined the foray of countries interested in evaluating the habitability of the planet. However, they have made little progress in understanding the planet; much of it remains a mystery several since its exploration began centuries ago. Current records indicate that about two thirds of the spacecraft destined for this planet have not been able to accomplish their missions. Some of these spacecrafts have broken down before they could land on Mars and record anything tangible. This notwithstanding various attempts to land spacecrafts on the planet since 1960s has been successful. Even though astrologers and astrophysicists have not been able to learn more about the Mars, they have been able to gather some important information about the planet. The recent explorations have yielded more success compared to earlier efforts (Carson 149).

In spite of the various challenges, astrologers have been able to discover that Mars has a diameter that is half that of the earth. They have also been able to discover that the planet is rocky with a thinner atmosphere. It was formed the same period the earth was formed. In addition, astrologers have been able to discover that Mars has a cold desert-like surface that cannot support life (Howell par. 7). Although it has a surface area that is smaller than that of the earth, its land area is almost equal to that of earth. This is one mystery about the planet that many scientists and even governments have taken a keen interest in with the view of establishing if it is habitable.

During the 1960s when the exploration intensified, Soviet Union made nine attempts, but all of them failed. The Soviet Union sought to outdo USA in this venture, but it was not until 1971 when Soviet Union succeeded in launching and landing its spacecraft on the Mars; a fete USA had previously achieved. After successfully sending and landing the first spacecraft on the Mars, Soviet Union sent more spacecrafts. These spacecrafts like the first spacecraft collected sizeable information about Mars. Although Russia had not sent any spacecraft to Mars, it was instrumental in these earlier explorations. Indeed, Russia continues to shape this exploration even today.

Unlike the Soviet Union, USA was more successful in exploring the Mars. Two of the country’s first spacecrafts were successful despite encountering some challenges. Mariner 3 did not open properly thereby did not land on the Mars as it was intended to do while Mariner 4 was successful in opening. However, it also did not land on the Mars. It floated in space and provided vital data. The spacecraft provided an overview of the way life would be on the Mars and the impact it would have on human life. Following this successful exploration, the US astrologers changed their perspectives about the Mars. They established that life would be more difficult on the planet than they had estimated before. After the two spacecrafts, USA launched Mariner 6 and 7 (Reeves 360). The two spacecrafts did not land on the Mars because they too encountered landing challenges. Nonetheless, Mariner 9 later on succeeded to land on the Mars and it was the first one to do so. During this time, Soviet Union like USA too managed to land some of its spacecrafts there. At the time, the planet was so dusty that data collection was delayed. When the dust cleared, Mariner 9 was able to establish that at one time there had been liquid water on Mars’ surface. The US 1990s exploration has remained to be the one of the most successful explorations. This exploration has been able to identify traces of water on Mars. Scientists have argued that groundwater may at times be surfacing on the Mars, but because of low temperatures on the planet, liquid water cannot be found on the surface.

Unlike Soviet Union and USA that entered the exploration in the 1960s, Japan entered the exploration in the late 1990s. Although Japan entered the exploration during the technology age, it too experienced challenges like USA and Soviet Union in sending its spacecrafts. In particular, some of its spacecrafts have failed at various stages of launching or landing on the planet. The European space agency is also venturing into the exploration.

The most successful spacecraft has been the Mars Odyssey. The spacecraft was launched in 2001 and in 2010, it was still running and sending images. The other most successful spacecraft is the Opportunity Rover. This spacecraft was launched in 2004 and to date it sends images to NASA.

Mars exploration has been repeatedly misguided by false information sent by spacecrafts. For example, when Mariner 6 and 7 did not land on the Mars, scientists were forced to believe that Mars looked like the moon because the spacecrafts sent images with craters on Mars’ surface. However, recent explorations have revealed otherwise. Scientists are yet to come up with a clear picture of the Mars because they sometimes receive contrasting images from their spacecrafts. This notwithstanding, major discoveries about the Mars have been made. It has been established that some meteorites found on the earth’s surface originated from Mars (Howell par. 12). It has also been established that the planet cannot sustain life.

Work Cited

Carson, Mary K. Exploring the Solar System: A History with 22 Activities. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2008. Print.

Howell, Elizabeth. A brief history of Mars mission. Viewed on 15 June 2015 from http://www.space.com/13558-historic-mars-missions.html

Reeves, Robert. The Superpower Space Race: An Explosive Rivalry Through the Solar System. Boston, MA: Springer US, 1994. Print.