Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and our neighboring planet. Though this terrestrial planet has a cold, desert environment and an atmosphere that is too thin for any prolonged existence of water on its surface, Mars features seasons, weather, polar ice caps, volcanoes, and canyons – just like Earth.
Red Planet Day is celebrated on November 28 to commemorate the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4, launched on November 28, 1964. The Mariner 4 performed the first successful flyby of Mars and got close enough to Mars to capture photographs of the planet’s surface.
Celebrate Red Planet Day by learning more about Mars or watching some Red Planet-inspired films. You can also celebrate by speculating over the undisclosed findings discovered in a pinch of Martian soil gathered by the current Mars rover, Curiosity. Part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission, Curiosity (the most advanced rover yet) was launched to find out if Mars was once – or still is – an environment suitable for supporting life.
…the Mars Science Laboratory will collect Martian soil and rock samples and analyze them for organic compounds and environmental conditions that could have supported microbial life now or in the past. [...] The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially ‘written in the rocks and soil’ — in their formation, structure, and chemical composition.”
Learn more about Curiosity’s mission at NASA’s website.