Let’s Learn about Mars

Role Dialog
 Narrator For budget approval purposes, two NASA engineers, Mr. Ames and Ms. Tanner, are giving an overview presentation of NASA’s strategic plan to land a man on Mars within the next two decades.
Ames NASA is asking the government for funding — beginning with a budget of  $19.5 billion for 2017 — for deep space human exploration, including landing a man on Mars by 2033.  Slide 1 (shown above) shows the key elements and milestones of our strategic plan.
 Tanner There are three cornerstones of our strategy:
1. Science
2. Exploration
3. Technology
The Hubble telescope and the International Space Station (ISS) are capabilities that are already in place, that is, orbiting the Earth.  Our next step will be to design and build a cargo delivery system, termed the Space Launch System (SLS), to launch payloads into space.
 Ames Let’s watch a 3-minute video of our initial test program to send a manned payload to the moon and back.  This is necessary to test our new technology.  I’ll describe what you are seeing during the video.
 Tanner Let’s review what we know about Mars.  For simplicity, we’re going to use round numbers.  Mars is named after the Greek God of War and is called the Red Planet because of its reddish color, caused by large deposits of iron oxide on its surface.

Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos.  Phobos means “fear” and deimos means “terror”.  Their diameters are about 14 miles and 8 miles, respectively.  Compared to our moon’s diameter of about 2200 miles, Mars’s moons are tiny.

 Ames Our atmosphere is about 80% nitrogen (N2) and 20% oxygen (O2).  We require oxygen to live, of course.  Mars has an atmosphere that is 96% carbon dioxide (CO2) and 0% oxygen, so we cannot breath Martian “air”.  Thus, its atmosphere is deadly to us.
Tanner The Earth’s diameter is about 8000 miles, Mars is about 4000 miles (1/2 of Earth’s), and our own moon’s diameter is about 2200 miles (1/4 of Earth’s).  If the Earth, Mars, and our moon were balls, 1 Earth ball could contain over 6 Mars balls, and 1 Mars ball could contain about 4 moon balls.
Ames Temperature-wise, Earth’s and Mars’s average temperatures are 57°F (14°C) and -81°F (-63°C), respectively.  So most of Mars would be too cold for us to live on the surface without environmental protection suits.
Tanner Gravity-wise, Mars has a lower gravity.  If you weighed 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 30 pounds on Mars.  Thus, you could jump much higher on Mars than on Earth.  However, over time your muscles would deteriorate (get weaker and weaker) and atrophy (get smaller and smaller or waste away) on Mars due to its lower gravity.
Ames The Martian day is about 24 hours, and its axial tilt is about 25°, so it is similar to Earth in these regards.  However, since it is farther from the sun than the Earth — about 140 million miles compared to about 90 million miles — the Martian year is about 700 Earth days.  Tilts are what cause seasonal changes to occur throughout the year.  The smaller the tilt, the more similar the seasons are.
Tanner Comparing land masses only, Earth and Mars have amount the same land surface area. Mars, of course, has no oceans as Earth does.
 Ames Now let’s examine some of the surface features of Mars.  Mars appears reddish because it contains a lot of the element we call iron (Fe).  It was named after Mars, the God of War in Greek mythology.
1. Mount Olympus is the largest volcano in our solar system.  (Olympus Mons)
2. The Tharsis Mountains (volcanoes)(Tharsis Montes)
3. There are polar ice caps at both the north and south poles.
4. The Marineris Valley is large deep gorge. (Valles Marineris)
5. The Hellas Basin is the largest impact crater in the solar system.
6. Solis Lacus is a dark feature that is also known as the “Eye of Mars”.
5. Some prominent land areas with such names as Arabia, Arcadia, Syria, Utopia (perfect society), Elysium (Paradise), Amazon, and Hellas (Greece).
  Red areas are probe landing areas.  Yellow areas are just areas of interest.
  False color by elevation (white = highest)
  Temperature Zones on Mars
   Mount Olympus (home of the Gods in Greek mythology)
  Outflow channels
  Rocky surface of Mars
  Marineris Valley
   Fluvial areas (where some type of liquid flow existed a long time ago)
   The Grand Canyon of Mars
   Curious rock formations when viewed from a great distance
   The famous “Martian face” viewed from a distance
   The “Martian face” up close
   Let’s watch a brief video showing some of these features.


One comment

  1. We are getting deeper into space. Our movie discussions and posts are all about other planets and aliens these days. I learned Canyon, deteriorate, atrophy.
    The word atrophy sounded like an adjective. But actually, it’s not.

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