The Ultimate Martian Adventure: 8 Amazing Places to Visit on Mars

by Rida Fatima

Tourists on Mars
(Image Credit: Dall-e)

Mars, our neighboring planet, has long captivated the imagination of scientists, space enthusiasts, and even the general public. With its stark beauty and vast, barren landscapes, it’s a world of contrasts that fascinates and intrigues us. Imagine standing on the edge of a massive volcano or gazing into the depths of a canyon that dwarfs even the Grand Canyon on Earth. Picture yourself exploring the craters and valleys, searching for signs of life or evidence of ancient civilizations. For future tourists, the possibilities are endless, and the adventure is just beginning. While the landing sites for these missions will likely be chosen for safety and practicality, there’s no shortage of interesting geology to explore. Here are just a few of the incredible locations that await the intrepid travelers of the future.

Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons is one of the most fascinating destinations on Mars, and it’s a must-visit for any future Martian tourist. This massive shield volcano towers over the surrounding landscape, rising to a height of 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) above the Martian surface. To put that in perspective, Olympus Mons is nearly three times the height of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth! The volcano is so massive that its base is over 550 kilometers (340 miles) wide, making it wider than the entire state of Arizona. Standing on the slopes of Olympus Mons, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world – or at least, on top of a very large mountain! Whether you’re a geology enthusiast or just looking for an awe-inspiring adventure, Olympus Mons is a destination you won’t want to miss.

Tharsis Volcanoes

Tharsis is a volcanic plateau on Mars that’s home to some of the largest and most impressive volcanoes in the solar system. The Tharsis volcanoes are a must-visit destination for any intrepid Martian traveler, offering breathtaking views and fascinating insights into the geology of this amazing planet. The largest volcano on Tharsis is called Arsia Mons, which stands a towering 16 kilometers (10 miles) high. That’s nearly twice the height of Mount Everest! Another fascinating Tharsis volcano is Pavonis Mons, which is surrounded by a mysterious hexagonal pattern that has puzzled scientists for decades. And then there’s Ascraeus Mons, which is home to a gigantic fissure system that stretches for over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Whether you’re a geology enthusiast or just looking for an adventure, the Tharsis volcanoes are a destination you won’t want to miss.

Valles Marineris

Valles Marineris is one of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring destinations on Mars. This massive canyon system is over 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) long and up to 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) deep, making it the largest canyon in the solar system. To put that in perspective, Valles Marineris is ten times longer and five times deeper than the Grand Canyon on Earth! But the canyon is not just big – it’s also home to some fascinating geological features. One of the most interesting is the massive cliff known as the “Great Tharsis Ridge,” which is over 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) high and runs for hundreds of kilometers along the eastern edge of the canyon. And if you’re a fan of extreme sports, Valles Marineris offers some truly out-of-this-world experiences – imagine rappelling down the side of a 7-kilometer-deep canyon, or hiking across a Martian landscape that looks like it belongs on another planet entirely! So if you’re looking for adventure, excitement, and some of the most stunning natural scenery in the solar system, Valles Marineris is the destination for you.

The North And South Poles Of Mars

The poles of Mars are some of the most fascinating and unique destinations in the solar system. Unlike the Earth’s poles, which are covered in ice, the poles of Mars are covered in a mixture of ice and frozen carbon dioxide, known as dry ice. This creates a stunning landscape of white and blue, with towering ice cliffs and deep valleys. One of the most fascinating features of the Martian poles is the seasonal changes – in the winter, the poles are shrouded in darkness and extreme cold, while in the summer, they are bathed in sunlight and relatively warm temperatures. The polar regions of Mars are also home to some fascinating geological features, including massive canyons and valleys, as well as the largest volcano in the solar system – Olympus Mons, which is located near the northern pole. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the stunning auroras that light up the Martian sky.

The Gale Crater and Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons)

The Gale Crater and Mount Sharp, also known as Aeolis Mons, are two of the most fascinating and scientifically important destinations on Mars. The Gale Crater is a massive impact crater that’s over 150 kilometers (93 miles) in diameter, and it’s home to the Curiosity rover – one of the most advanced robotic explorers ever sent to Mars. Mount Sharp, located at the center of the Gale Crater, is a towering mountain that rises over 5 kilometers (3 miles) above the surrounding landscape. But Mount Sharp is more than just a mountain – it’s a geological time capsule, with layers of sediment that have been laid down over billions of years. By studying these layers, scientists hope to unlock the secrets of Mars’ past, and learn more about the planet’s geology and history. And if you’re looking for adventure, the Gale Crater and Mount Sharp offer plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery. From hiking across the Martian landscape to studying the rocks and sediments up close, there’s something for everyone on this incredible planet.

The Recurring Slope Lineae in Hale Crater

The Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) in Hale Crater are some of the most mysterious and intriguing features on Mars. These dark streaks, which appear to flow down the sides of the crater walls during the Martian spring and summer, have puzzled scientists for years. Some believe that they may be evidence of liquid water on Mars, while others think that they may be caused by dry, flowing sand or dust. Whatever their cause, the RSL in Hale Crater offer a tantalizing glimpse into the geological and environmental mysteries of Mars. And if you’re looking for adventure, exploring the RSL in Hale Crater offers a unique and thrilling experience – imagine rappelling down the side of a Martian crater wall, or hiking through the rugged terrain in search of these elusive features.

Ghost Dunes

The ‘Ghost Dunes’ in Noctis Labyrinthus and Hellas basin are some of the most fascinating and enigmatic features on Mars. These dunes, which are believed to be millions of years old, have been preserved as ghostly outlines in the Martian rock. They were likely formed when Mars had a thicker atmosphere and more abundant liquid water, and they offer a glimpse into the planet’s past climate and geology. The dunes are also a reminder of the incredible power of wind on Mars, which is capable of shaping the landscape in ways that are both beautiful and mysterious. And if you’re looking for adventure, exploring the ‘Ghost Dunes’ offers a unique and thrilling experience – imagine hiking through the rugged terrain in search of these ancient formations, or camping under the Martian sky as you marvel at the wonders of the Red Planet.


Exploring the wonders of Mars is an adventure like no other. From towering mountains and vast canyons to mysterious dunes and ghostly outlines of ancient features, the Red Planet is a treasure trove of geological and environmental marvels. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a curious traveler, there’s something for everyone on this incredible planet. So pack your bags, grab your spacesuit, and get ready to experience the wonders of Mars. Who knows what discoveries and adventures await us in the future as we continue to explore and unlock the secrets of this fascinating planet!

‘Potentially Hazardous’ Asteroid That Recently Zipped Past Earth Is An Elongated Weirdo With An Odd Rotation

by Rida Fatima

The asteroid 2011 AG5's close approach to Earth on February 3
(Fig 1: The asteroid 2011 AG5’s close approach to Earth on February 3 was captured in a collage of six planetary radar observations (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).)

A group of astronomers recently had the opportunity to closely examine a potentially dangerous asteroid as it passed by Earth. The asteroid, named 2011 AG5, caught their attention because it is elongated and rotating more slowly than expected. This asteroid was first discovered by the Mount Lemmon Survey in Arizona in 2011, and at the time, it made headlines because it was predicted to be on a dangerous trajectory towards Earth in 2040 due to its orbit around the sun taking about 621 days. However, upon conducting further research back in 2012, astronomers discovered the error in the calculation of its orbit, and that it does not actually threaten Earth. Despite not posing a threat, the anomaly of this asteroid has caught the attention of astronomers, who are interested in studying it further to better understand its unusual shape and rotation (Baker, 2023).

On February 3, 2023, an asteroid passed by Earth at a distance of around 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), which is approximately five times as far as the moon is from Earth. This close proximity to our planet gave astronomers an opportunity to observe and scan it in detail for the first time. Prior to this close flyby, scientists had limited information about the asteroid’s characteristics and properties, but this new observation could provide valuable insights. By closely studying the asteroid’s composition, shape, and rotation, researchers can gain a better understanding of its origins, and potentially learn more about the history and evolution of our solar system. The close encounter also allowed astronomers to confirm that the asteroid is not on a collision course with Earth, giving us a sense of relief that there is no immediate threat from this particular space rock.

Unusual Characteristics of Asteroid 2011 AG5 During Close Flyby of Earth

Asteroid 2011 AG5's orbit and current location as of June 15, 2012
(Fig 2: Asteroid 2011 AG5’s orbit and current location as of June 15, 2012 (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).)

A study conducted by researchers using NASA’s Deep Space Network facility in California has shed new light on the characteristics of asteroid 2011 AG5. The scientists used a powerful Goldstone Solar System Radar antenna dish to capture images of the asteroid during its close flyby of Earth on February 3, 2023. The images revealed that the asteroid is approximately 500 meters long and 150 meters in width, it can be estimated as big as the Empire State Building in size. What surprised the researchers was the unusual elongated shape of the asteroid, which is unlike most other near-Earth objects that have been observed to date. Lance Benner, a principal scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead the research with his expertise, commented that “this is one of the most elongated near-Earth objects we’ve seen out of the 1,040 near-Earth objects that planetary radar has detected so far”.

Despite the surprising discovery, the scientists are not jumping to any conclusions about why the asteroid has such an unusual and unexpected size and shape until they have more time to dig into the information. The findings from this observation has the complete potential to provide new insights into the formation and evolution of asteroids in our solar system, and perhaps even help us better understand the threat posed by potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

New Radar Scans Reveal Slow Rotation and Surface Features of Asteroid 2011 AG5

One of the radar observations of the asteroid.
(Fig 3: One of the radar observations of the asteroid. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).)

The recent radar scans of asteroid 2011 AG5 conducted by NASA’s Deep Space Network facility have revealed new insights about its rotation and surface features. According to the scans, the asteroid takes around 9 hours for the completion of its single rotation, it is considered a much longer time as compared to other asteroids. The elongated shape of the asteroid may have an influence on its slow rotation, although the exact reason is not clear. The surface of the asteroid was visible in dark and light patches in the new images, which would point to the presence of numerous small-scale features on the body of the asteroid. However, the researchers are uncertain about what these features are. The scientists hope that the new data collected from the radar scans will enable them to better predict the asteroid’s future trajectory, which could help to explain its unusual characteristics (Shawn, 2023).

The latest ranging calculations obtained by the team working on the planetary radar system will help researchers to better predict the asteroid’s trajectory and track its movements, particularly when it passes closer to Earth in 2040. The director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) – Paul Chodas at JPL, emphasized that new data will provide more insights into the asteroid’s properties and definitely maximize the opportunities to better understand this peculiar space rock. Moreover, the asteroid is not considered a direct threat to Earth, because of its size and closeness to earth it is taken as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” it will pass within 1.1 million km of Earth during its next flyby in 2040. As such, it is essential for astronomers to continue monitoring the asteroid’s movements and studying its characteristics to better understand the potential risks posed by other near-Earth objects in the future.