NASA will be launching a spacecraft to Mars on Monday which will be expected to reach the Red Planet next September. The spacecraft, called MAVEN, will explore the planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.
We call Mars the Red Planet because, on the surface, it looks like a rusty dust bowl, incapable of ever harboring life. However, our galactic neighbor didn’t always appear this way. Billions of years ago, it looked a lot like our own planet — dotted with puffy clouds and covered in deep blue water.