Mars by T.J. and Trey
We're all about astronomy. We check out planets and stars through a telescope whenever we get a chance. We're especially into Mars. Everybody always talks about Martians, but have scientists ever really found any signs of life? We've heard that if you could find water on Mars, you might find life on Mars. Our question: How could you find evidence of water on Mars?
What did we do?
We live near the Arizona desert, so what better place to search for water that's hard to find? We found out that NASA is using infrared photography to try to find evidence of water on Mars. So we got an infrared video camera and took it out into the desert with us. We used it to make our own images of the desert surface near some underground springs. We compared infrared images of the sand near the spring with images of sand farther away from the spring.
What did we find out?
The infrared camera is really cool. It sees things in a different way than our eyes see things. When we looked at the two desert locations with our eyes, everything looked the same. We couldn't tell any difference between the area near the springs and the area farther away from it. Everything looked sandy and brown. But with the infrared camera, we noticed a definite difference. The camera can tell the differences in sand temperature in places where water either cools it down or where a hot spring warms it up. So, as long as the water was near the surface of the sand, even if it was out of normal sight, the camera could find it! That's how the Mars satellites are trying to find water on Mars right now!
- You can look at Mars satellite images yourself, right on the Web. Go to http://themis.asu.edu/ and look through thousands of images of the Mars landscape. These are the real images NASA scientists are using to study Mars. Join in and make your own discoveries!
- Investigate night vision with infrared light. If you have a digital movie camera with "night vision" option, use that to learn a little bit about how things look in infrared light. Look at the appearance of objects in a well-lit room using the regular camera option. Then darken the room and switch to night vision, and look again. Pay special attention to the colors of things.
- Check in with the NASA Web site to see the progress of the recent Mars exploration missions. Go to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html to find out the latest news!
- Use this Mars investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!