Thursday , December 3 2020

56 years of investigation from Mars to InSight

Man has been amazed at the stars, the universe, the planets and, of course, the Earth's neighboring red planet, especially for centuries.

Since the first time Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope toward the sky, human curiosity for what is over us never stopped. Galileo wanted to look far beyond what was possible with his naked eye. Centuries later and using more advanced technology, humanity begins in the study of other planets and perhaps another home.

Is there life out there? Living on other planets will be a reality? Is a human settlement on Mars in the 2030's the future of humanity?

All of these questions lead us to quickly look at how the space race began before we can continue exploring the possibility and future of Mars' colonization.

Space bar: How it all began

It is said that World War II was a catalyst for rocket science. In this way, it is safe to say that the Cold War was a thousand times stronger. It was during the Cold War when the space race began.

With the increasing threat of nuclear destruction and the fear of a biological war, the American rocket program, originally led by Werner von Braun, was born into a guerrilla campaign of intellect and design with its Russian counterpart led by Sergei Korolev.

A large amount of government funding on both sides went into research, development and improvement of the nuclear weapons propulsion systems. Finally, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union circulated the first artificial satellite in circulation: Sputnik I.

The Russians were then motivated by their first success over the Americans and continued to put the first man in space also in 1961. The man in this historic mission, Yuri Gagarin, accomplished the mission of spacecraft Vostok I.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the US space program, which was kick-started in 1958 in response to the launch of Sputnik I, was left in two consecutive times. As you can guess, they weren't so happy about this.

In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded and the United States launched its Explorer I artificial satellite.

President John F. Kennedy announced that NASA would put a man on the moon at the end of the decade, so he could probably return to earth.

On July 20, 1969, NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who probably landed on the Moon and returned to Earth.

Examination of Mars surface

The theodolite depicted below dates from 1875. It was one of the first instruments used to monitor planet Earth. Since then, surveying instruments have come a long way. So they did their subjects of mapping.

Over 120 years after this theodolite, part of the science instruments of the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy, in early 1998, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor was scheduled to begin mapping the surface of the fourth planet from the Sun: Mars .

Although the Red Planet had been mapped by both Americans and Russians, what made the Global Surveyor's mission different than sending the most detailed images of the Martian surface ever taken from space back to Earth.

telescope 1875 museo galileo © susanfourtane
Theodolite for measuring work, made of brass in 1875, Officine Galileo, Florence / © Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering

The first missions to Mars

Mars I was the first probe sent to Mars. It was launched on November 1, 1962, also by the Russians. Unfortunately, the probe lost contact with the ground on March 21, 1963. Unfortunately, no observations were received from Mars I.

One year later, on November 5, 1964, NASA launched Mariner 3, NASA's first Mars probe. Unfortunately, it was premature in its mission and never did it to accomplish its purpose.

On November 28, 1964, NASA launched Mariner 4. This time, the manual sent 21 photographs of the planet's dense crater and apparently lifeless surface and some important information back to Earth. This was the first time people could see a first glimpse of how Mars' surface looks.

InSight into inner Mars

Insight (INterior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), currently on Elysium Planitia, Mars, was launched from Vanderberg Air Force Base, California on May 5, 2018 and landed on March 26, 2018.

The lander must study the interior of the planet. Produced by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the US $ 828.8 million American lands will study the early development of terrestrial planets.

This exploration is expected to open a science window in the rocky planets of the inner solar system. This makes InSight more than a Mars mission, although its first goal is Mars.

The mission is planned to last just over a Mars year, which corresponds to approx. two earth years. In days it would be 709 Suns (March days) or 728 Earth days. InSight's primary mission ends in November 2020.

Peasants are accustomed to knowing the surface of a planet. But we know that life on the surface can be hard, especially if the conditions on the surface of such a planet are not optimal.

What are the chances that planets such as Mars can present organic development in its interior, rather than on the surface as would be expected?

Scientists have cut planet modeling that what they know about the interior of planet Earth. Once, people believed that the Earth was flat. Their faith was based on the little knowledge they had at that time. Like the little knowledge there is on Mars so far. You get points. Things in the interior of Mars might be different from what we think they are.

SpaceX plans to go to Mars

But a one-man dream is what will make a real difference in the whole story of human space research.

With no competitive agenda and with the inner motivation that only a true maverick can hold, Elon Musk and his SpaceX team will land on Mars and beyond. And with that, life makes the multiplanet.

And here is when a whole new second chapter of human history and its dream of populating the stars begins.

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