Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why are we still looking at Mars?

  1. Apr 1, 2008 #1
    Haven't we been looking at this dead world for three decades now? There are geysers on one of Saturn's smaller moons, hydrocarbon lakes on Titan, and a potential ocean under Europa's ice. Are there any good reasons why space agencies are still wasting their time with Mars instead of venturing out into the outer solar system where there might be (a higher chance of) life right now, as we speak?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2008 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Why are we still studying the Earth? There is a lot to learn and we don't know everything there is to know.

    The odds of finding life on Mars are not yet zero, so it is still studied. And it is easier to send a probe to Mars than to Saturn.
  4. Apr 1, 2008 #3
    Mars is also so much closer and easier to study. It also holds the potential as a base of operations and maybe even terraforming for a second planet colonized by man. The practice and technology developed for Mars is seriously important for longer range missions. The moon and nearer planets are important in the long run as jumping points to get to farther bodies such as Saturn's moons. Mars might, as yet, yield some type of life. There is at least some tenuous reasons to hold out this hope.

    Life may be one of the more important things to discover but at this time the development of technology and funding are more important. Develop those and we find the life if it's there. A thousand years from now I doubt that finding life on Titan will be thought of as the most important consequence of developing space travel.
  5. Apr 7, 2008 #4
    We've seen a lot of things happening on Mars lately that we hadn't noticed before, which raises the question, what else have we overlooked?
  6. Apr 19, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Aren't we also looking at Mars with ever better resolution (e.g. "Face On Mars" from 1970's photographs turned out to be just a mesa...in early 2000's photographs)?

    Not to mention we never had rovers there before that could last years and continue to travel around exploring.
  7. Apr 19, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The paramount goal of space agencies isn't to seek out life... Debatable if it should be or not, but it currently is not. So even though I agree Mars is no longer the most likely site for life, it still holds a lot of importance in the study of planetary evolution, among dozens of other fields. Heck, people are talking about going back to the moon.
  8. Apr 23, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Besides, we still haven't been able to answer the question of life on Mars with any certainty. If we can't come up with a definite "yes" or "no" on Mars, then we aren't ready to start looking at places like Io, where the search will be much more difficult and the results probably much harder to interpret. As we continue the search for life (past or present) on Mars, we are learning how to search. uropa is a long ways away, and it would be nice to know a bit more about what we should do there before we try it.
  9. Apr 24, 2008 #8
    Mars may have a lot more in common with Earth than many people think. It may have once been a planet just like Earth, complete with liquid oceans on its surface. So studying what happened to Mars could be imperative in finding out what might happen to Earth. And since Earth is the only place humans currently have to live, that is very important.
  10. Apr 25, 2008 #9
    Just came across this while doing some reading. I'm surprised it didn't receive more attention (mainstream media).

    HiRISE Captures Stunning Images of Mars Avalanches in Action
  11. May 1, 2008 #10
    Uninhabitable Mars.So what's the point of researching if life is not possible?

    There are several points to prove that Mars is uninhabitable though Mars has always held a certain fascination for humans :-

    1)The lack of a magnetosphereand extremely thin atmosphere of Mars are a great challenge:the planet has little heat transfer across its surface, poor insulation against bombardment and the solar wind, and insufficient atmospheric pressure to retain water in a liquid form (water instead sublimates to gaseous state)

    2)Atmospheres of Earth and Mars are radically different. In fact, if any humans set foot on the red planet, they would not be able to breathe.

    3)Martian atmosphere is composed almost entirely of carbon-di-oxide(CO2), which when inhaled in large,concentrated amounts, is deadly.On Mars, the atmospheric CO2 levelis more than 95 percent, whereas on Earth it is less than 1 percent.

    4)The remaining gases in the Martian atmosphere include small percentages of Nitrogen and Argon and mere traces of Oxygen and water vapour.

    5)Mars has the largest dust storms in the Solar System.These can vary from a storm over a small area, to gigantic storms that cover the entire planet. They tend to occur when Mars is closest to the Sun, and have been shown to increase the global temperature.

    These reasons make it utterly impossible to inhabit Mars. So what's the point of researching and investigating the Red Planet?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook