Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - M ar s M ar s and Popular Cult ur e The idea of...

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Mars
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Mars and Popular Culture The idea of a civilisation on Mars was taken so seriously that the term Martians became synonymous with alien life. We can rule this ancient civilisation out, but past or present microbial life remains an intense subject of science. Water once flowed on Mars -> surface of subsurface environments for life as on the early Earth? Mars appears to have met all the requirements for life to arisen as on Earth. Qu: Are there fossil remains of life on Mars? Qu: Is life still surviving somewhere?
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Mars and Popular Culture William Hershel (1738-1822) Discovered Uranus Claimed Mars had an atmosphere and ‘inhabitants have a similar situation to us’. Martians were assumed to exist as an acclaimed scientist had mentioned it. Giovanni Schiaparelli (1877) Canali – network of 79 linear features (channels). Artificial waterways built by a Martian civilization?? Percival Lowell (1855-1916) Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ. He mapped 200 canals on Mars. Deduced Mars was arid – correct! Canals built to carry water from the poles to thirsty cities at the equator – Erm. ... Martians are an old civilisation on a dying
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Mars and Popular Culture All the previous evidence provided a “scientific basis” for H. G. Wells to write ‘The War of the Worlds’ in 1898 th
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Mars and Popular Culture Books and movies about Martians persist to today! Still see evidence of past Martian civilizations and life?
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Modern Missions Debate about Martian canals and cities properly put to rest when NASA sent spacecraft to Mars. 1965 – Mariner 4 , flew 6,000 miles above the surface Images of a lifeless body, covered in craters, dry and cold. No evidence for intelligent beings – but a thin atmosphere and the polar caps left open the possibility of microbes, plants and animals. 1976 – Viking Lander 1 and 2, plus 2 orbiters . Found a bleak landscape with red dust and scattered rocks – landers couldn’t move to see more Collected soil to look for microbes. No organic compounds found, but scientists in 2011 are still studying the data. Mars Observer and Phobos 1 and 2 – Failed! 1997 – Pathfinder and its rover, Sojourner. Chemical composition of rocks tested – moved 10s metres.
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Mars Today No human could survive outside on Mars for more than a few minutes. Air contains trace amounts of oxygen – not enough for us. Lack of oxygen means a lack of ozone – high levels of UV radiation hit the surface. Gravity 40% that of Earth. A day is 40 minutes longer than Earth. Mars today looks like some deserts or volcanic plains on Earth
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Liquid Water on Mars? Low atmospheric pressure means that no liquid water exists anywhere on the surface of Mars today – very relevant to the search for life. We know there is no liquid water as we have
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Lecture 7 - M ar s M ar s and Popular Cult ur e The idea of...

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