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07iC - Mission to Mars - Student Challenge: PLAN

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Mars Exploration Goals:

NASA’s four Mars Exploration Program goals

  1. Determine if life ever arose on Mars. All life, as we know it, requires water to survive. In fact, on Earth we have found life wherever there is water, even in places we didn’t think life could exist, such as frozen deserts of Antarctica. Is the same thing true of Mars? Because of the low temperatures and thin atmosphere of Mars today, we know that there is currently no liquid water on the surface of the planet. But was that always true?

  2. Characterize the climate of Mars. If we can understand what the climate of Mars is like today and how it changes, we will have a better idea of what the climate of Mars was like in the past. The atmosphere of Mars is mostly carbon dioxide, but two other important components are water vapor and dust. With enough information, we can begin to create a picture of the overall climate of Mars now and what it may have once been like.

  3. Characterize the geology of Mars. Rocks and minerals on the surface of Mars can tell us a great deal about a planet’s past. By studying surface morphology and patterns and types of features found on the surface, we can find a permanent record of the history of Mars in its rocks.

  4. Prepare for human exploration. Humans are naturally curious. No robot will ever have the flexibility of a human explorer, so someday we will want to travel to Mars ourselves to study the planet and its history directly. Because of the difficulty and the number of challenges, robotic spacecraft must pave the way for humans to follow. One important task is to study new techniques for entering the Martian atmosphere and landing on the surface. We will also need to understand the dangers humans will face on the surface of Mars.

From: Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet

Mars' Rovers:

Over the years, NASA has sent five robotic vehicles, called rovers, to Mars. The names of the five rovers are: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance.

Since the 1970s, scientists have been sending spacecraft to Mars. Several different types of spacecraft have been sent to the Red Planet over the years, and they all have different specialties. One type, called orbiters, orbit Mars, taking pictures as they zoom around the planet. Other spacecraft, called landers, provide photos and information from their landing spots on the surface of Mars.

Rovers have wheels and specialize in moving around. They land on the surface of Mars and drive around to different spots.

Rovers help scientists in their quest to understand what different parts of the planet are made of. Mars is made up of lots of different types of rocks, and each rock is made up of a mixture of chemicals. A rover can drive around to different areas, studying the different chemicals in each rock. These chemicals can tell scientists something about the environments that changed that rock over time.

From: The Mars Rovers

Online encyclopaedia:

Online encyclopaedias are great for short, concise and reliable information. It may be best to access these articles from the Online encyclopaedias page through the Hale portal. Don't forget Britannica has ready made citations for you to use.

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Mars- Spacecraft

NASA explores Mars using three types of spacecraft:

  • Orbiters – spacecraft that circle Mars, take images, and make scientific observations from space, but do not land
  • Landers – spacecraft that land on the surface of Mars, take images, and make scientific observations from one location
  • Rovers – spacecraft that land on the surface and then drive around to numerous locations to take images and make scientific observations

Perseverance rover instruments:


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