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Red Planet Day
"Mars is there, waiting to be reached."
~ Buzz Aldrin
Red Planet Day commemorates the 1964 launch of the Mariner 4, NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory's robotic interplanetary probe. The Mariner 4 became the first spacecraft to successfully fly by Mars and send back the first close-up images of Mars. Just this week, NASA's InSight probe landed on Mars and will be deploying its solar-powered seismic sensors to search for marsquakes as part of its mission. It has been a banner year for Mars science as new data from the Curiosity Rover of “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere, suggest that the planet could have supported ancient life!
Red Planet Day commemorates the day in 1964 when Mariner 4, a robotic interplanetary probe was launched by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
In the 8 months it was on its mission, the Mariner 4 became the first spacecraft to successfully fly by Mars. It also gave the world the first close-up images of Mars. Since then several exploratory missions have been sent to Mars to gather data about the planet.
Today, 5 spacecrafts orbit Mars and 2 spacecrafts - the Curiosity Rover and the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity - are on the planet's surface.
New discoveries by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity add to a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that microscopic organisms once lived on the red planet — and have some scientists considering the possibility that microbial life lives there still. Curiosity detected carbon-containing compounds in ancient sediments on Mars and shifting levels of the organic molecule methane in the planet's atmosphere.
Designed on behalf of Charles Cockell, Professor of Astrobiology, Edinburgh University, this tartan is intended to be worn during Mars science, exploration and outreach activities. Colours: the red background depicts the surface of Mars, the Red Planet; blue depicts the water-rich past of Mars and the presence of water, mainly as ice, on the planet today; the four green lines represent Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, the presence of habitable conditions on the planet and the possible future presence of life in the form of human settlement; the thick white line represents the Martian poles, visible from the Earth, a conspicuous and important feature of the planet and its long-term climatic cycles.
For the latest discoveries, click the red planet!