Why Mars has captured our hopes and fears for millennia

From being the celestial embodiment of warrior gods to housing canal-digging aliens, Mars has uniquely endured in the public consciousness. Even today, the Red Planet still spells adventure, says Stuart Clark

Space | Comment 26 October 2022

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Michelle D’urbano

THERE is something about Mars that captivates us. Throughout history, different cultures and individuals have looked at the blood-red beacon in the night sky and filled it with whatever their imaginations associated with the unknown. Across time, Mars has been the celestial embodiment of warrior gods, an astrological talisman of spiritual influence, a venue for utopia and the wellspring of horrors beyond belief. Even today, our relationship with the Red Planet continues to evolve.

Of the five planets that are visible to the naked eye, Mars is easily the most dramatic, and its observable behaviours have informed our cultural interpretations …

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