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56 years of research from Mars I to InSight

Humanity is puzzled by the stars, the universe, the planets and, of course, the neighboring red planet of the Earth, in particular, over the centuries.

Since the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei first directed his telescope in the direction of the sky, human curiosity towards what is above us has never ceased. Galileo wanted to see far beyond what was possible with the naked eye. Centuries later, with the help of more advanced technologies, humanity is beginning to explore other planets and, possibly, a second home.

Is there life there? Will life on other planets become a reality? Is human settlement on Mars by the 2030s the future of mankind?

All these questions lead us to take a look at how the space race began, before we can proceed to explore the possibilities and the future colonization of Mars.

Space race: how it all began

It is said that the Second World War was a catalyst for rocket science. Under these conditions, it is safe to say that the Cold War was a thousand times stronger. During the Cold War, the space race began.

With the growing threat of nuclear annihilation and the fear of biological warfare, the American missile program, initially led by Werner von Braun, spawned a guerrilla campaign of intelligence and design with his Russian counterpart, headed by Sergey Korolev.

A huge amount of public funding from both sides was spent on research, development and improvement of propulsion systems for atomic weapons. Finally, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent the first-ever artificial satellite into orbit: Satellite I.

The Russians then were motivated by their first success over the Americans and continued the launch of the first man in space also in 1961. The man in this historic mission, Yuri Gagarin, performed the task in the space capsule of East I.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the American space program, which was launched in 1958 in response to the launch of satellite I, was abandoned twice in a row. As you can guess, they were not too happy about it.

In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created, and the United States launched its artificial satellite Explorer-I.

President John F. Kennedy announced that NASA is going to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade to return him safely to Earth.

On July 20, 1969, NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who safely landed on the moon and returned to Earth.

Surface shooting of mars

The theodolite, shown below, dates from 1875. It was one of the first tools used to explore the planet Earth. Since then, surveying instruments have come a long way. So they made their mapping items.

120 years after the theodolite appeared in early 1998, which is part of scientific instruments at the Museum of Galileo in Florence, Italy, NASA was scheduled to conduct a global survey of the Mars Global Surveyor to map the surface of the fourth planet from the Sun: Mars.

Despite the fact that the red planet was previously mapped by both Americans and Russians, what distinguished the Global Surveyor mission was that it sent the most detailed images of the surface of Mars ever taken from space back to Earth.

1875 telescope Museo Galileo © Susanfourtane
Theodolite for exploration work, made of brass in 1875, Officine Galileo, Florence / © Susan Fourtané for interesting engineering

First missions to mars

Mars I was the first explorer sent to Mars. It was launched on November 1, 1962, also by the Russians. Unfortunately, the probe lost all contact with the Earth on March 21, 1963. Unfortunately, no observations have been received from Mars I.

A year later, on November 5, 1964, NASA launched the Mariner 3, the first NASA probe on Mars. Unfortunately, he got out of control too early in his mission and was never able to complete his task.

On November 28, 1964, NASA launched the Mariner 4. This time, the ship sent 21 photographs of the densely sloping and apparently lifeless surface of the planet and some vital information to Earth. It was the first time when people first saw what the surface of Mars looked like.

A look at inner mars

In sight (ATTerior exploration using Seismic Investigations geodesy and HOURthere is Transport), which is currently located on Elysium Planitia, Mars, was launched from the Vanderberg air base in California on May 5, 2018 and landed on Mars on November 26, 2018.

The descent vehicle is about to explore the inner space of the planet. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, a unit worth 828.8 million. US dollars are about to explore the early evolution of the terrestrial planets.

This study is expected to open a window of knowledge into the rocky planets of the inner solar system. This makes InSight more than a mission to Mars, although its first goal is Mars.

The mission is scheduled for just over one year of Mars, which is equivalent to about two Earth years. In days it will be 709 sols (days of Mars) or 728 Earth days. The main mission of InSight will end in November 2020.

Earthlings used to know life on the surface of the planet. Nevertheless, we well know that life on the surface can be harsh, especially if the conditions on the surface of such a planet are not optimal.

What are the chances that planets, such as Mars, can represent organic evolution inside, and not on the surface, as would be expected?

Scientists have cut the planet, simulating what they know about the inside of planet Earth. People used to think that the earth was flat. Their faith was based on a little knowledge that they had at the time. It seems that on Mars there is little knowledge. You get the point. Things inside Mars may differ from what we think.

SpaceX plans to go to Mars

But the dream of one person is what will really change the whole history of man’s exploration of the cosmos.

Without a competitive program and with intrinsic motivation that only a real individual can possess, Elon Musk and his SpaceX team are going to land on Mars and even further. And with this, making life multi-planet.

And it is here that a completely new chapter in the history of mankind begins and his dream is to populate the stars.

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