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July 2003

Release Date: July 23, 2003

Scientific, Cultural Fascination with Mars Chronicled at ASU Planetarium

"Red Planet Mars," a show highlighting both the cultural significance and the scientific history of the red planet, will be offered at 8 p.m. Thursdays, July 24 through Aug. 14, at the Angelo State University Planetarium.


The first section of the show traces Mars through history, starting with an "incantation" of the various war god forms given the planet by different early cultures, continuing with the early telescopic observations by astronomers Schiaparelli and Lowell, and covering the infamous "canals," which led to science-fiction stories about Martians. Excerpts from H.G. Wells' "War Of the Worlds" and Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" novels illustrate our fascination with Mars.

Next the show details recent studies of Mars as seen in the night sky through binoculars and telescopes as well as through our space explorations of the planet. Findings from NASA spacecraft feature reports on Mars' weather, climate and potential water, a prerequisite for life as we understand it.

Martian climate and terrain are compared to Earth's, and the current thinking about the water history of the planet also is explored. These studies strongly suggest a rationale for future exploration of the planet.

Finally, the show examines where on Earth we can best prepare to live on Mars, what we will need to get crewed missions there and what we might expect of the first manned landing.

"Red Planet Mars" is open to the public at the ASU Planetarium in the Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building at 2333 Vanderventer on the university campus. Admission is $3 for adults, $1.50 for children and senior citizens, and free for ASU students, faculty and staff. More information is available at 942-2136.