Mars is very similar to Venus. It is very bright and because of that we can easily observe it in the night sky. This is part of the reason no one really knows who discovered Mars. We do know that its name is that of the Roman god of war because the planet’s reddish color suggested the color of blood.

Christiaan Huygens

In 1659, Christiaan Huygens discovered a strange feature on the surface of the Red Planet. It later became known as the Syrtis Major. Since then, fear of a Martian invasion has prevailed in our society. In 1802, one scientist really believed that there was life on Mars that he wanted to draw large figures in the snow in order to signal to the Martians!

Giovanni Schiaparelli

In 1877, the astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, discovered what he thought were several intersecting lines. He opined that intelligent creatures created water channels on Mars.

Mariner 9

In 1971, Mariner 9 visited Mars and sent back images of huge volcanoes and vast canyons. It discovered Olympus Mons, which is now the most famous volcano outside of Earth. This large volcano could cover the area of the state of Missouri and rises up to 15 miles above the surface. Mariner 9 also found evidence water once existed on Mars. As of today, there is no evidence of the famous Schiaparelli canals.

Viking I and II

In 1975, two space probes, Viking I and II, landed on Mars to study its surface. They analyzed the planet’s rocks and soil. The probes provided information about its atmosphere and weather. Today, scientists continue to explore Mars. In 1997, the Mars Global Surveyor mapped the planet.

When was Mars Discovered

No one discovered Mars, scientists discovered its moons! In 1877, astronomer Asaph Hall observed the two moons and gave them names: Phobos, meaning fear, and Deimos, meaning dread. They were named after the mythological horses that carried Mars, the god of war.


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