Cape Canaveral, Florida"In our solar system, Mars is the closest relative on Earth, the relative and neighbor who captivated humans for millennia. The space probe of the NASA InSight, which on Monday will attempt to land on Martian soil, could give us the best chance to explore the depths of Mars.
The probe is equipped with a mechanical spring that will drill a depth of 5 meters to measure the internal temperature of the red planet and a seismograph to record earthquakes, meteorite impacts and anything else that could shake it.
Scientists see Mars as a tempting time capsule. It is geologically less active than Earth, which doubles its size, thus retaining much of its early history. By studying the protected center of Mars, InSight can show us how the rocky planets in our solar system were formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they were so different from each other.
"Venus is so hot that it melts lead, Mercury has a surface burned by the sun, today, Mars is very cold, while Earth is a good place to vacation, so we really want to know why a planet is going on one side and another planet from the other, "said Bruce Banerdt, chief scientist at InSight at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.
Terrans are attracted to Mars today for several reasons.
It's relatively easy to get to Mars – "an incredible natural laboratory – and the United States, at least, already has a proven track record there," said Lori Glaze, NASA's interim director of planetary science.
The icing on the cake is that Mars may have been full of water at some point and may have harbored life.
"Trying to understand how life is or has been distributed in our solar system is one of the major issues we have," Glaze told a news conference on Wednesday.
Within two years, NASA will look for evidence of past microbial life if it does, in fact, exist or exist.
On Monday, the space agency announced that the Mars explorer 2020 will descend to the Jezero crater, where it will collect samples and store them to return to Earth in the early 2030s. The ancient lake and river system are saturated with rocks several. which could be a point of concentration of past lives.
This, we must repeat, would be past life, not present.
NASA's chief exploration scientist for the exploration of Mars, Michael Meyer, said that the Martian surface is very cold and dry, with much radiation bombardment, so life exists today.
The recorded observations of Mars, which nearly doubles the size of the Earth's Moon, date back to ancient Egypt, but it was only in the 19th century that mania was actually established by Mars.
Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli began mapping Mars in the 1870s and described the channels observed as "canali", but with the recently completed Suez Canal, many people understood "canali" as artificial channels made by aliens.
To add more commotion, the astronomer behind Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona, Percival Lowell, said the canals carried water from the poles to intelligent civilizations near the Martian equator.
Ray Bradbury's classic 1950 novel, "Martian Chronicles," continued the obsession with Mars.
Already in the 21st century, SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk, a sci-fi enthusiast, is leading an expedition to Mars. Visualize hundreds of thousands of people reaching Mars on huge SpaceX ships and colonizing the red planet to continue with the species.
Musk feels so in love with Mars that he hopes to die there one day, but he does not – he said – by a shock.
Going to Mars is a "dream," said Philippe Laudet of the French Space Agency, project manager for the InSight seismograph. "Everything is captivating."