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Have we ever been invaded by creatures from Mars? Does Mars have some mysterious force? Science fiction says "yes," but when you come back down to Earth, the real science says "no." Still, Mars has had a powerful influence over the people of Earth for many centuries.

The ancient Greeks were fascinated by Mars. Its red color led them to attribute the planet to Ares, their god of war. When the Romans conquered the Greeks, they renamed the gods and the planet Ares became the planet Mars. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of single god religions, Mars was still an important object. Astrologers used the planets to predict the future and Mars was the Energy planet. Mars was used by Johanus Kepler to determine the Laws of Planetary Motion. With the invention of the telescope, Earthlings learned more about their neighbor. Schiaparelli found long lines on the planet's surface. The Italian word for these features was "canali." This was confused for the English word canal. People started wondering if intelligent life on the Martian surface could have made these "canals." Percival Lowell built the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona to study the red planet. Herbert George Wells wrote a book about a Martian invasion. Orson Wells took the book and made a radio program that scared the American populace.

Then, with the Space Race in full force, the United States and the Soviet Union sent spacecraft to the planet. The "intelligent life" idea was disposed of forever, but many interesting and new features were discovered - features that we continue to explore today.