Is There Life On Mars?

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Is there life on Mars? In many books and movies, little green aliens from Mars invade Earth. In real life, Mars is the planet being invaded--by strange-looking machines from Earth. In August, NASA, the U.S. space agency, launched a spacecraft to Mars. It is called an orbiter because it will orbit, or circle, the fourth planet from the sun. Right now, the orbiter is speeding toward Mars. Scientists expect it to reach the Red Planet in March. The orbiter will join two robots, called rovers, that are already there. They have been rolling around on the surface of the planet for more than two years. They are searching for signs of water. Signs of Life Mars is cold and dry. Scientists think the planet was once a warmer and wetter place. Evidence of water can mean that life once existed on Mars. The orbiter will look for signs of water. It is expected to spend at least two years studying Mars. It will scan Mars with the largest telescope camera ever sent to a planet. The orbiter's radar will look for water beneath the planet's surface. It will also search for landing spots to prepare for future human missions to Mars. "This orbiter is going to look much farther and with more detail than what the rovers could do," NASA's Ramon DePaula told Weekly Reader. "We are going to bring back more data than all other missions to Mars combined." Amazing Mars Facts * Mars is called the Red Planet because its soil is a reddish color. * Like Earth, Mars has mountains and valleys. * The largest volcano in the solar system, called Olympus Mons, is on Mars. * Even in the summer, the temperature on the planet's surface is below zero. Think About It Why is water needed for life to exist? Teaching the Cover Story Is There Life on Mars? NASA has launched an orbiter to Mars to look for signs of water. Before You Read Ask: Can you name the

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