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 becoming the first to see the celestial body in this way.
Mars is significant in other arenas beyond the astronomical too. In some cultures, for example, the planet serves as a representation of masculinity. And the symbol designated to Mars also doubles as a signifier for the male gender. Plus, of course, Mars was the god of war in Roman mythology, and the planet was later named in honor of the deity.