Who would have thought that just 3,500 years after ancients observed the motions of Mars that our species would be making bold plans to inhabit it. NASA has just announced that 3D printing has provided a means to ‘replicate’ a meteorite found on Mars, printing an object on Earth from images gathered by a probe on an entirely different world.
The history of the human relationship with Mars is a lively one. The confirmed observations in 1534 BCE by the ancient Egyptians were bested by Babylonian astronomers who made regular records of the positions of the planets and noted that Mars made forty-two (the tongue-in-cheek meaning of life for anyone who has read The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy…) circuits of the zodiac every seventy-nine years. By the fourth century BCE, the father of modern academia, Aristotle, noted that Mars disappeared behind the Moon indicating the planet was farther away. Ptolemy, a famed ancient Greek living in Alexandria addressed the orbital motion of Mars in Almagest (also known as Syntaxis mathematica or Μαθηματικὴ Σύνταξις) Western astronomy’s fundamental text for nothing less than fourteen centuries. In the East, Chinese astronomers had also calculated the path of Mars in the fourth century BCE. In the fifth century BCE, in India, the Surya Siddhanta estimated the diameter of Mars.
On to the era of the telescope, in 1610 the first observation of Mars through a telescope was made by Galileo. In 1672 the diurnal parallax —looking at an object from two different places creates the means to make calculations about it’s distance and other geometrical properties, akin to why we have two eyes — of Mars was measured with greater precision by Giovanni Domenico Cassini. Christiaan Huygens became another notable observer of Mars by becoming the first person to draw a map of the red planet with terrain. … (Read more)