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Why Do Earthlings Need Mars?
before March 9, 2006


Why Mars is of science’s main interest despite numerous space objects that can be studied as well? Famous Russian scientists professor Zharkov (RAS Joint Institute of Earth Physics) and professor Moroz (RAS Institute of Space Research) think that by spending billions for Mars exploration earthlings invest their children safety rather than numerous science projects, because in case of a global catastrophe humanity needs an extra planet.

Currently booming studies of Mars are, on the one hand, aimed at getting information about Earth formation and development and, from the other hand, at finding out if life on Mars ever existed. The information brought by spacecrafts and Mars Rovers allows scientists to understand many facts about our planet as well as about our Solar System.

Thus Mars and Moon surface explorations have helped to establish the fact of a terrible meteorite bombardment, which earth-type planets had suffered from 4.1 bln to 3.8 bln years ago. The Earth hasn't preserved its traces, but Mars has large craters on its ancient southern hemisphere. The meteorites, falling on the molten surface of young planets, were considered to stir outer magma ocean thus promoting crust generation. The age of most ancient Earth rocks is estimated to be 3.8 billion years, and traces of biological activity on our planet have appeared only 50-100 million years later. You can compare these data with the age of first Earth continent - 3 billion years.

Mars satellites, Phobos and Damos are very interesting because they may contain Solar System primary matter, as well as meteorites and asteroids. Despite the failed effort of "Phobos-2" spacecraft to land on Phobos in 1988, scientists still hold out a hope to obtain its soil samples and to study out composition of space proto-matter. Russian scientists are currently developing a special spacecraft "Phobos-Soil".

Scientists hope that Mars helps them to solve other problems of early planetary evolution. From the theory describing star formation and development it follows that young Sun had luminosity 30% lower than it has now. Thus ancient Mars and Earth should have been much colder than they are now. But the real Earth's Archean climate has been warm and humid. Various rate of erosion calculated for Martian craters indicates that the Red planet has had a dense atmosphere before the bombardment and ancient Mars also had a relatively warm and humid weather conditions, which in theory make the planet suitable for development of some life forms.

Currently the scientists have no evidence that any simple biological organisms had ever existed on Mars. Martian channels are considered to be an optical illusion, and as for studies of Martian soil and meteoritic matter of Martian origin, they still have no results. But Mr. Zharkov and Mr. Moroz think that the search should be continued.

According to the Russian scientists, Mars can help solving many other science problems too. For example, the problem of uneven distribution of matter in the Solar System and the problem of age of Jupiter, the most mysterious planet in our Solar System, which can be compared to the age of most ancient Martian rocks, and the problem of relative planetology. Mars is the most Earth-like planet in the system, and the knowledge about its inner structure, crust development and its atmosphere and climate history can help eliminating gaps in the history of our planet and even look into its future.

The scientists note that Mars cannot be studied in one jump. Four out of six launched missions (including Russian "Mars-96") have failed. It means that no country is currently able to study Mars alone. Adequate research level requires hundreds of billions of dollars. It's clear that not a single science problem mentioned above justifies such expenses. However, according to the researchers, one more task exists - a task of future. The Earth is not guaranteed against global catastrophes, which had already happened in its past. They can occur due to collisions with celestial bodies or due to unfavourable climate changes. Mars is the most perspective candidate for the position of the extra planet for the mankind. The scientists do not preclude creating on Mars favourable life conditions for people, due to it having had dense atmospheres and warm climatic conditions in the past.

Tags: space     

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