In the summer of 2003 the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a spacecraft devoted to observing Mars. And in the years that have followed, the mission has not only captured some incredible images of the Red Planet, but it has also made some vital discoveries. After seeing pictures taken in September 2018 from the craft, however, scientists may have initially been left baffled.
For millennia, Mars has been a source of fascination for humankind. In fact, the planet appears in writings by several ancient peoples, including the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians and the Greeks. It was not until 1610, though, that Mars was observed through a telescope, with noted astronomer Galileo Galilei the first to see the celestial body in this way.
And Mars is significant in other arenas beyond the astronomical. In some cultures, for example, the planet acts as a representation of masculinity. In fact, the symbol designated to Mars also acts as a signifier for the male gender. Plus, of course, in Roman mythology, Mars was the god of war, with the planet later being named in honor of the deity.