Curious if Martian dust devils are in the forecast? Scientists just activated a new weather station on the Red Planet — one located on the InSight lander sitting in Elysium Planitia. Learning about the weather will teach us a lot about Mars itself, and you can take part by checking out the data yourself on NASA’s website.
Roughly 4.2 billion years ago, Mars was a much different place than it is today. It’s atmosphere was thicker and warmer and its surface much wetter. Unfortunately, the planet’s atmosphere was stripped away by solar wind over the next 500 million years, causing the surface to become so cold and dry that it makes Antarctica look balmy by comparison!As a result, most of Mars’ water is currently locked away in its polar ice caps. But billions of years ago, water still flowed freely across the surface, forming ancient rivers and lakes. In fact, new research led by The University of Texas at Austin indicates that sometimes these lakes would fill so fast that they would overflow, causing massive floods that had a drastic impact on the surface.
Let’s get something straight right away: there are no little green beings on Mars. Horror films about the Red Planet often show humans being eaten by something sinister and creature-like on Mars. Luckily, the reality is more subtle. Yes, we do have a hope of finding life on Mars — especially due to two new discoveries this year. But when we talk about life on Mars, we don’t mean monsters. We mean microbes.
Is there life on Mars? If so, we’re going to hunt it down. NASA’s next Red Planet rover is almost ready to make its big voyage to Mars. The next big milestone? Figuring out where this special spacecraft is going to touch down on the surface.