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Letter From Mars

April 21, 2012
Dear Jacob,
Hello from Mars!! You might have studied about Mars in school; I wish I could have learned about it in first grade. Of course, the textbooks are so dry and concise and it does not have any personal experiences in it. So, as your sister and to get all my thoughts down, I have decided (as you may have guessed) to write you a letter about the things I have seen and felt throughout my stay here on my very own (at least for now) red planet. You could show this letter to your friends if you like. I bet they are going to be very jealous….do any of them have a sister who is journeying the regions of deep space? Ha! I think not!
My guidebook, which I got from my orientation meeting in NASA Space Center, states that:
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is commonly referred to as the Red Planet. It has ice caps. The rocks, soil and sky have a red or pink hue. The distinct red color was observed by stargazers throughout history. It was given its name by the Romans in honor of their god of war. Other civilizations have had similar names. The ancient Egyptians named the planet Her Descher meaning the red one. Before space exploration, Mars was considered the best candidate for harboring extraterrestrial life. Astronomers thought they saw straight lines crisscrossing its surface. This led to the popular belief that irrigation canals on the planet had been constructed by intelligent beings. In 1938, when Orson Welles broadcasted a radio drama based on the science fiction classic War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, enough people believed in the tale of invading Martians to cause a near panic. Another reason for scientists to expect life on Mars had to do with the apparent seasonal color changes on the planet's surface. This phenomenon led to speculation that conditions might support a bloom of Martian vegetation during the warmer months and cause plant life to become dormant during colder periods. (Courtesy of solarviews.com)

Ah, another dry, yeastless factuality. To say that Mars is awesome is an understatement. Mars is breathtakingly beautiful…and empty. The only thing I can see is red, copper red to be more exact. No wonder the scientists call it the red planet. To the sight, it seems like desolate, stunning desert. But I am willing to bet that, unknown to the human eye, there will be microscopic fauna and flora just waiting to be found. Above the surface of Mars is the Martian atmosphere. Did you know that it is made mostly made of carbon dioxide and has only one percent of Earth’s atmosphere? Well, now you know. For that reason, I have to go outside in a stiff and uncomfortable suit. It is bit ironic that after a century of space exploration, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the uncomfortablity of the space suits. Ha Ha! Anyway, because the Martian atmosphere…isn’t an atmosphere at all, there aren’t any clouds. Also because of the reason, Mars is terribly cold. The usual temperature ranges from -13 degrees Celsius to -77 degrees Celsius. That might not be all hard to adapt to, considering the Ice Age we had last year. Yes, in that freezing temperature, I have to conduct experiments for NASA, all day long. Speaking of days, which are called sols, one day on Mars, lasts roughly about 24 hours, 40 minutes. One more hour of sleep, hoorah! I have tried what you suggested to me before I went. One jump and I went flying up through the “air”, feeling light as a feather. Considering what I saw on Mars, it would be a few years until definite colonization occurs and we humans would be filling the desert, changing it to fit our needs, naming places, living, breathing, destroying….
Anyway, I haven’t really told you the real reason, I came to Mars. The reason I came to Mars is to find out whether we can build a safe environment more or less like Earth. Of course, I am really curious about any type of intelligent or unintelligent species around here. I also would like to find out more about Mars. Does it have a crust made of nickel and iron like Earth does? But mostly, what I want to find more about is this:

1)
Is it possible to create an atmosphere on Mars either by planting trees it its red soil or unleashing gravity attracted chemicals that can create an atmosphere?
2)
Is it possible to melt the ice caps on Mars to create oceans?
3)
How can we harness the unbreakable power of volcanoes to create environmentally friendly solutions for energy?
Now, I know what you have been dying to hear: HAVE I ENCOUNTERED MARTIANS? The truth is no. Really, I am too busy in my work to find any intelligent species that might want to communicate with me, even if I might get a raise. Although, I have found something suspiciously looking like ruins on top of the hills…I might check on that tomorrow. So, are there such things as Martians? Maybe. Am I afraid? Yes! As Anthelme Brillat-Savarin stated, a little dose of fear is healthy and necessary to survive. That is especially true when you are exploring new places. Of course, he also said that the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star, but that doesn’t apply in this situation considering Mars is a planet, not a star. Now, I have to go; I have to analyze the last of my soil specimens.

Best,
Sienna





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