The Planet
Mars


Mars, the "Red Planet", is named after the Roman god of war because it commonly appears with a reddish tinge when viewed in our sky. It has always held a fascination for those interested in the possibility of life on other planets. In 1895 a professor of astronomy, Samual Leland Phelps, wrote in a book called World Making that with a new 40 inch telescope being built by the University of Chicago,

"It will be possible to see cities on Mars, to detect navies in [its] harbors, and the smoke of great manufacturing cities and towns... Is Mars inhabited? There can be little doubt of it ... conditions are all favorable for life, and life, too, of a high order. Is it possible to know this of a certainty? Certainly." (quoted in Feb., 1973 National Geographic)
The adjacent image shows a Viking 2 image of Mars. There is no evidence for the things that Professor Leland thought we would see with an earth-based telescope, but Mars is still of great interest to us, not the least reason being that it may once have harbored conditions favorable to the evolution of life.


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