Did You Know

The Viking 1 and 2 landers were designed to search for life on Mars. Soil samples were analysed for organic compounds (containing carbon) that might indicate the presence of life. The Viking landers took soil samples from various places but no organic compounds were found. It is thought that some life-forms such as bacteria, algae and fungi may still exist under the permafrost or under the ice-caps. Future space missions will investigate this further.

The two Mars Exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity found some evidence suggesting the past environment could have been hospitable to life, however these rovers were not equipped to detect life.

A meteorite discovered on Earth in 1984 originated from Mars. The meteorite, known as ALH84001, is believed to have been blasted off Mars by a comet or asteroid impact, since it contains gases and isotopes matching the atmosphere of Mars.

number of separate sources of magnetic force. The Mars Global Surveyor found that the strength of the magnetic field varies around the planet. The weak magnetic field suggests that the core of Mars is no longer liquid or that currents in the core are slow.

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