Roger Hennessy tells of a hundred years of investigation, imagination and speculation about life on Mars.
Popular interest in Mars, the ‘Red Planet’, is long-established, but has enjoyed two dramatic flowerings, one in the 1890s and the other a century later. Two developments have quickened current media attention: the revelation by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in August 1996 that it possessed a small meteorite which might have come to Earth from Mars and might contain fossils of primitive life forms; and the dispatch to Mars, by NASA, of spacecraft designed to scrutinise the planet, and to land on it. The Mars Pathfinder touched down on July 4th, Independence Day, 1997. Soon the public could see for itself the marvel of a small vehicle moving about the rust-red sands of Mars, controlled from Earth some 119 million miles away.
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