Unlike oxygen-filled Earth, the "Red Planet" is composed of primarily carbon dioxide. And if humans were to visit and breathe in this atmosphere, it would taste kind of like soda.
"Mars is made up of carbon dioxide, so basically you're carbonating the liquid on your tongue," explained Eric Muller, a senior science educator at the Exploratorium. "There are hundreds of millions of people that are tasting basically that every day by drinking their soda."
Despite its fiery-red appearance, flames can't exist on the planet. So, if a rocketship ran out of fuel on Mars, the astronauts would be stuck there.
"Carbon dioxide inhibits burning," said Muller. "One of the heaviest parts of a rocket, bulkiest too, are the oxygen tanks. So, when you see these giant rockets lifting off from Earth, a huge percentage of them are liquid oxygen to help burn the fuel that's inside."
He added, "If you get to Mars, you've used up all your oxygen. You've got to get back somehow, so you've got to refuel and you've got to get that liquid oxygen back in there."
Luckily, NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover will be able to help create the needed oxygen to support human exploration of Mars.
"Its goal is to take the Martian atmosphere, which is uninhabitable for us, and turn it into something that we could use, which they're trying to make oxygen," discussed Muller.
Since landing on Mars on February 18, 2021, Perseverance Mars Rover has been hunting for signs of ancient microbial life and transforming our understanding of the planet. From now until May 1, 2022, visitors to the Exploratorium can see and learn from a lifelike model of the Mars Rover at the museum.
"We have a partnership with NASA JPL, so you might be meeting a scientist over here and learn more about it," said Muller. "And you can even hear mars!"
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