Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. In the nighttime sky it is easily visible and is quite distinct because of its reddish color. The surface of Mars is covered with rust colored rock and dust that give it the reddish color. The "Red Planet" has captured human interest since ancient times. Roman mythology depicts Mars as the "God of Wars". The name of the month of Match is derived from Mars. Mars has a thin atmosphere, composed mainly of carbon-dioxide with traces of oxygen and water. Mars has two moons - Phobos and Deimos. It moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit.

Scientists have long suspected that there is or was water on Mars. It has permanent ice caps at both its poles composed of water, ice and solid carbon dioxide( dry ice). And where is water - life can exist. It is this urge to find life outside Earth that has driven us to explore the Red Planet.

The first space craft to visit Mars was the Mariner 4 in 1965. After that Mars 2 was the first space craft to land on Mars and the two Viking landers were next in 1976. Mars Pathfinder landed successfully on 4th of July 1997. Then came Mars Odyssey in 2001 and Mars Global Surveyor.

Recently NASA sent two Mars rovers to gather important data about the Martian Environment. Spirit landed on Mars on 3rd January 2004 and Opportunity landed on 25th January 2004.

Data obtained from the later missions shows clear evidence of erosion in many small places on Mars, including large floods and small river systems. At some in the past there was clearly some sort of fluid on the Martian surface.

We dream of going to Mars sometime in future. The knowledge we get from the current robotic missions will help prepare us for that journey.

Why does Mars appear red in color
Why are scientists trying to search for life on Mars?
Which spacecrafts have landed on Mars?
Does Mars have a moon/moons?
Do you think humans will have colonies on Mars in the future? Explain.