A look at the red planet - Eastern Arizona Courier: Safford News

A look at the red planet

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:00 am

SAFFORD — The EAC Discovery Park Campus Lecture Series welcomes Eastern Arizona College Science Division Chair and Instructor of Geology and Astronomy David Morris for the presentation “Exploration of Mars: The Red Planet,” Saturday, at 6:30 p.m., in the Jupiter Room.

From H. G. Wells and Orson Welles to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars has been a fascination and a mystery throughout human history. A source of fear and inspiration, Mars inspires stories of adventure, conquest, and hope for future colonies. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often called the Red Planet because of the high amounts of iron oxide — or rust — on its surface that gives it a reddish appearance.

Mars is also home to a variety of exceptional surface features including impact craters, volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and recently discovered polar ice caps similar to Earth and possibly having flowing water during the warmest Martian months. Mars is also the site of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain in the Solar System; at over at over 82,000 feet it is almost three times taller than Mt. Everest on Earth, and its magnificent Valles Marineris canyon at 2,500 miles long and 10 miles deep, is ten times larger than our Grand Canyon.

Today we have three crafts orbiting Mars, and two rovers exploring the surface, providing complex geochemical analyses of the rocks and minerals on the surface, and continuing a rich history of unmanned exploration of this mysterious yet wondrous planet. The presentation will explore the similarities and differences between Mars and Earth and discover the entertaining history of NASA’s efforts to reach the red planet, both the successes and failures, and humanity’s efforts to understand Mars and explore the possibilities of human travel to Mars. David will also discuss the possible future colonization of our appealing red neighbor, and the challenges and promises behind the concept of terraforming Mars.

Join us for this all-ages event at the EAC Discovery Park Campus, and tour the Graham County Historical Society’s display of historic artifacts, and the “History of Astronomy” gallery. Plus, stay after the lecture to enjoy public viewing of the fascinating night sky objects through the 20-inch Tinsley Telescope in the Gov. Aker Observatory, all free of charge.

For more information, contact the EAC Discovery Park Campus at 928-428-6260.

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