Is there water on Mars? And other cool facts about the Red Planet

I’m sure you are familiar with Matt Damon’s brilliant performance as an astronaut who gets stuck on Mars and manages to survive by growing potatoes. However, the complexity of the Red Planet is far from being decrypted, and the truth is that we don’t know enough about it so far.

Although there have been some missions on it, we’re still a long way ahead before we manage to colonize Mars and make it a sustainable environment for the human species. But why should we be interested in this planet and, moreover, how does it affect our living?

For a starter, Mars has been regarded as the only planet within our solar system that can support or that supported forms of life in the past, aside from Earth. Therefore, if we ever wish to expand our knowledge about the universe and create a new living for the future generations, it is crucial to know as much as possible about Mars.

 

Is there really water on Mars?

After many failed attempts and suppositions, a recent mission on Mars conducted by NASA seemed to finally suggest what everyone was hoping for in the past – that there is, in fact, water on this planet and, hence, a welcoming climate for life.

Unfortunately, what was previously considered a source of flowing water on the surface of the planet is now credited as nothing else but granulated sand. The findings published in 2018 argue that there is enough flowing water to support mycobacterial forms of life and give us further hope.

 

Cool stuff about Mars

Even though we cannot be sure of whether or not there is life on Mars, there are dozens of other interesting facts about this planet that you should know. Here are some of them.

The planet is called after the Roman God of War. In the Greek mythology, he was also called Ares, and the name of the planet comes from its red color that can be easily associated with the color of blood.

However, it seems that the Greeks and the Romans were not the only ones who thought about a similar name for the planet. The Egyptian priests referred to it as “the red one”, while the Chinese simply named Mars “the fire start”.

There are numerous similarities between our planet and Mars, and this is probably the main reason why we’re so eager to find life forms on it. One of these similarities refers to seasons. Much like the Earth, Mars also has seasons, but they last twice as long.

It is smaller than Earth and has a lower mass, so it also has a weaker gravity. The gravity drops to 38% on this planet than what we would experience on ours, so it’s only natural that you will feel lighter. In fact, at an average weight of 200 pounds, a human would only weight approximately 76 pounds on Mars.

 

Understanding barometric pressure

 

The air around us has a weight which presses against everything it touches, from every direction. In terms of names, this can be called in many different ways, such as atmospheric or barometric pressure. Moreover, when you hear people talking about air pressure, this is what they are referring to.

It’s defined as the force exerted on a surface by the air above it as gravity pulls it towards Earth. The pressure is usually measured with a barometer which contains a column of mercury in a glass tube.

This column either rises or falls as the weight of the atmosphere changes. Scientists and meteorologists describe the atmospheric pressure by how high the mercury rises.

The unit measure is an atmosphere (atm) which is equal to the average air pressure at sea level at a temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit. One atmosphere equals 1,013 millibars or 29.92 inches of mercury, this being the reference point.

As altitude increases, the atmospheric pressure drops, which leads to differences we can perceive. Just to give an example, the atmospheric pressure on Denali, Alaska, is about half that of Honolulu, Hawaii. Honolulu is a city at sea level, while Denali is the highest peak in North America.

Airplane travel

If you’ve traveled by airplane, you probably have experienced pressure in your ears, popping or even severe pain sometimes. This happens because an airplane lifts extremely fast into the air and the pressure in the inner ear and the air pressure outside don’t have time to equalize.

The result is that the tympanic membrane or eardrum swells outward. If you picture a loaf of bread rising while baking, you’ll get the idea.

Solutions include swallowing more often, chewing gum, yawning or the Valsalva maneuver which entails holding a mouthful of air and a pinched nose while you gently force air out until your ears pop. However, this is not recommended if you are sick with a cold or allergies.

 

Lower oxygen levels

As the pressure subsides, so does the amount of oxygen available to breathe. At very high altitudes, both the atmospheric pressure and the available oxygen get so low that there’s a significant risk for people to get sick or even die.

Professional mountain climbers use bottled oxygen when they ascend very high peaks. They also take the time to get used to the altitude. A fast transition from higher pressure to lower pressure can cause decompression sickness.

The same problem goes for scuba divers. If they come to the surface too quickly, there’s not enough time to adapt to the change in pressure and this might lead to sickness.

Atmospheric pressure is also an indicator of weather. A low-pressure indicator usually means that there will be cloudiness, wind, and precipitation, while a high-pressure one indicates a fair and calm weather.

 

Cool facts about Albert Einstein

 

Einstein was undeniably a genius. He won the Nobel Prize due to his radical discoveries, and he has also won the hearts of millions with his humor and wit. It is time to celebrate the minds who have transformed the world we live in, and to remind people that they have added a new layer of detail to the lens through which we see life. So to honor Albert Einstein, here are some of the lesser known facts about this amazing human.

As a proof of how much people have cared about him, Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel. After the death of the country’s first president, Ben-Gurion, the founder of the modern state asked the genius to rule the country. But he declined, stating that his old age prevented him from having the patience to deal with people. He was 73 at that time.

 

 

Another rather weird thing about the guy is that he never actually spent his money that he got from winning the prestigious award. All the cash went into a trust created for his sons, soon after he divorced his first wife. They had a troubled relationship, and this was his guarantee that his children will be looked after, even if something happened to him.

When we think about his discovery of the Theory of Relativity, we think that his memory must be incredible in order to remember and to solve all of those complicated physics problems. But the truth is, Einstein had issues remembering things. Which makes us gasp with wonder even more at his genius. His memory was so terrible that he couldn’t remember his own phone number, a thing which makes him even more relatable and lovable.

Speaking of the Nobel Prize, most people assume that he won the prize for his theories over general and special relativity. But things are a bit different. He won the award in 1921 for all of his discoveries and career, rather than for one thing as most laureates do. He wasn’t offered the Noble for his advances in relativity because they can’t be a hundred percent proven as of today, but they still wanted to honor his amazing mind.

He was a quirky figure. At some point, he even made a list of rules for his second wife, that she had to follow to the letter. And when he was young, it took him a long time to learn how to speak. This made his family worried that he might have been mentally damaged.

There are not many people who can say have changed the world. But Albert Einstein did that, and he deserves to be cherished and remembered by all generations. People even say that his discoveries will allow us at some point travel through space and time, a thing which is very exciting for the future of humankind.

 

NASA just discovered 10 rocky planets like Earth

 

In what is lauded by NASA to provide significant implications for the search for life, the space agency has revealed its latest discoveries in other parts of the universe by way of ten rocky planets similar to Earth.

This means there are now 219 new suspected planets beyond our own solar system. Those additional 10 are located in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of their solar system. This simply indicates they are neither overly proximate to their star nor too distant. From this, it can be surmised that the 10 rocky planets are neither too hot or too cold for liquid water to be available.

 

 

It is the presence of water that plays a key role in a planet’s ability to sustain life.

Finding exoplanets, or simply planets outside our solar system could pave the way for scientists to discover whether there is life in other parts of the universe. NASA announced in a tweet that scientists using @NASAKepler have found and identified 219 potential new worlds.

With those new discoveries, there are now over 4,000 suspected exoplanets found by the Kepler space telescope.

Susan Thompson, a research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, says this meticulously defined catalog of discoveries forms the foundation to find a direct answer to one of the most compelling questions in astronomy regarding the number of Earth-like planets in the galaxy.

The SETI Institute has been searching for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The SETI scientists do their work by attempting to find radio signals that exhibit some form of intelligence.

To date, there is now a total number of 4,034 potential planets that Kepler has identified. Of that total, 2,335 have been identified as exoplanets. Interestingly enough, around 50 have been verified to be roughly the size of Earth and are candidates for being habitable zones that Kepler has detected. More than 30 of the 50 have been defined.

 

 

Why is the discovery critical?

In light of the discovery of the ten Earth-like planets, it should enable man to find habitable zones. This is considering how the great Stephen Hawking himself has warned that we are running out of space on our own planet so we need to break through the technical limitations that have prevented us from establishing habitats in other areas of the universe.

Professor Stephen Hawking spoke at a press conference in London, which served as a sneak peek for the Starmus science and arts festival that took place in Norway in June 2017. During his speech, the renowned English cosmologist, theoretical physicist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, reiterated his warning that finding new or alternative habitation beyond Earth is the key to human survival. If mankind is to colonize other planets, there is no better time to start than now.

 

We’re not alone in the universe

 

When I was a kid, I got into space and celestial objects, so I bought my first telescope when I was about fifteen years old. But the mystery that’s always been on my mind is whether or not we’re alone in the universe. I still remember how my parents used to watch The X Files every week, so I quickly became passionate about the topic.

Every now and then, I take the time to check out recent news and developments that might somehow be connected to extraterrestrial life. Earlier this week, I came across an article published by CBS News according to which some scientists claim that life might have existed on Mars. There are many people who believe this already, although there hasn’t been any scientific data backing this theory, at least not from what I have learned about the topic over the years.

Some say that life might have appeared on Mars and that, through a meteorite or are other celestial objects, it ended up on what we now called Earth. Fortunately, we might be able to find out how things happened as Curiosity has been collecting information on Mars for the past four years. It took some time to repair the robot once it was affected by a sand storm, but the people at NASA have managed to program it in such a way so as to resume its trip. Curiosity is, therefore, perfectly capable of collecting info regarding the surface of the planet, and can even do some drilling and analytical analysis of rocks and other particles.

There are many magazines and other online publications that have started analyzing the topic of whether or not we are alone out there, so in a sense, it’s a good thing for people who are passionate about it. However, I couldn’t help noticing that in the last several years, there has been a tendency to claim that humans are in fact, the only smart life in the universe.

Since there isn’t any proof as to whether or not one theory is true and the other is false, I don’t understand why there have to be people who live by a particular one. Actually, I think that many folks would completely freak out if they found out that the likelihood of aliens coming to visit our planet is a reality.

For some, it would be an entirely horrifying scenario, while for others like myself, it would be something worth experiencing. Of course, I’m not saying that the demise of our civilization is anything I would want to witness in this lifetime, but finding out that there are aliens out there would definitely be exciting for me.