Historical Events  Science

Mars was always thought to have no ice caps

The ice caps of Mars have always been known about

Water on Mars

The search for life beyond earth has intrigued mankind since humans first gazed up at the stars.

Mars was first properly observed by Galileo in 1610, and from then on better and better observations have been made right up to sending landers to its surface. Along with all this research has been the quest to find evidence of life there, and the assumption that for it to exist, water must too, has been part and parcel of this from the start.

The problem is that it's now being shown that the ice caps have been known about since Galileos discovery, where he documented these and various darker regions, even giving some their names. Yet many hear about the Mars ice caps and think they must be a new discovery, or else they must have clearly been misinformed regarding the presence of water on the planet.

God of War

Mars has been known about since ancient times, since it's clearly visible to the naked eye and it's wildly different movement patterns distinguished it as such. The name comes from the Roman God of War, and this in turn derives from its red color. Until Galileo turned his telescope to it, however, that small bright spot was all that was known about it.

There's a thin atmosphere, but nothing like the one we're used to on Earth. It has 0.01% the atmospheric pressure of earth, and of that 0.13% is oxygen. It's red appearance is actually from the rust covering its surface - a result of this oxidisation in the same way it occurs on earth. Mars has no tectonic plates, so in effect cannot "breath" the way the earth does, and it's atmosphere dissolved away into space billions of years ago. It's thought at one time it would have looked like earth, with seas, seasons (they both tilt at roughly the same angle to cause these) etc.

The images we see today of Mars all show the ice caps, and if you read the reports of the environment carefully, they usually go out of their way to say there is no surface water on the planet. That doesn't preclude ice. It could be for this reason those who remember the search for water, and there being no ice caps, being the way it's been for so long.