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Essay on Water on Mars

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Water and Life on Mars

Mars perhaps first caught public interest in the late 1870s, when Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli reported using a telescope to observe canali, or channels, on Mars. By the turn of the century, popular songs told of sending messages between Earth and Mars by means of huge signal mirrors. On a darker side, H.G. Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds portrayed an invasion of Earth by technologically superior Martians desperate for water. (1) In the early 1900s novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs, who is best known his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan, also entertained young readers with tales of adventures among the exotic inhabitants of Mars, which he called Barsoo. (2)
It was hoped that Mars had ample
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Mars possesses polar caps at both poles. Frozen ice accumulates as a thin layer about one meter thick on the north cap in the northern winter only, while the south cap has a permanent ice cover about eight meters thick. (7) The northern polar cap has a diameter of approximately 1,000 kilometers during the northern Mars summer and contains about 1.6 million cubic kilometers of ice. The southern cap has a diameter of 350 kilometers. Both polar caps show spiral cuts, which presently remain unexplained. Both polar caps also shrink and regrow following the temperature fluctuation of the Martian seasons as shown in Figure 5.
In the winter months when the poles are in continuous darkness, the surface gets so cold that as much as 30% of the entire atmosphere condenses out into thick slabs of CO2 ice or dry ice. When the poles are again exposed to sunlight the CO2 ice sublimates. This phenomenon creates enormous winds that sweep off the poles as fast at 250 mph. These seasonal actions transport large amounts of dust and water vapor, bringing forth an Earth-like frost and large cirrus clouds. (8) Some evidence suggests that the planet was once significantly more habitable than it is today, but whether living organisms ever existed there is still a question open for further research and debate. The Viking probes of the mid-1970s carried experiments designed to detect
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