Long the subject of science fiction for us, the planet that occupies the 4th position from the sun is none other than Mars. Much of the wonder about the so-called “red planet” has been centered around the question as to whether or not it has ever been able to sustain life, or will ever be able to do so in the future. With temperatures ranging from -225 degrees to +70, and a poisonous atmosphere consisting of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon, the answer to that question would seem to be a definitive no for humans, but the reasons for speculation are clear. Mars is the most like our planet, only smaller, drier, and colder; in fact, scientists point to Death Valley, Antartica, and the volcanic formations of Hawaii as being the areas on Earth that are most similar. It does have a similar daily rotational period, coming in at just over 24 hours, so drinking your morning coffee with your favorite Martian would not require that much of an adjustment beyond figuring out how to remove your spacesuit long enough to take a sip and not breathe in the air. Ah, the things we do for coffee. Mars’ orbit around the sun is nearly twice ours (687 days) so we would seem younger, and the gravitational pull has the effect of making 100 lbs come in at 38, so we’d feel thinner too. This is beginning to sound more appealing. The tilt of Mars’ rotational axis is also like ours, so it does have four seasons that last twice as long as they do on Earth. It has no rings to speak of, but it does have two potato-shaped, heavily cratered moons that are most likely asteroids that were once captured by Mars’ gravitational field and pulled into orbit. Phobus zips around Mars three times a day, and Delmos takes 30 hours to complete its orbit. I’m fascinated with the idea of looking up into the sky and seeing two moons. I think it would be so much fun! The main reason there has been so much speculation about the possibility of life on Mars, has to do with evidence of water on the planet. Currently, the thin atmosphere and cold temperatures would not allow water to exist on Mars for very long, yet the planet’s surface has great canyons and huge plains that could only have been carved out by massive floods. Missions to Mars that have collected soil and rocks have found trace minerals that also support this theory, and there are indications that a warming trend is occurring, so the investigation and speculation will most likely continue for quite some time.
Mars is a terrestial planet like Earth and Venus, with a varied landscape that has been shaped by external conditions. Mars has the largest volcano in the entire solar system, Olympus Mons, which is three times taller than Mount Everest and the size of the state of New Mexico. That’s mind boggling to me. It also has a spectacular Grand Canyon of sorts, Valles Marineris, that sits at its equator and is as long as the United States is wide. For the most part, Mars’ surface is rocky, dusty, and dry and it is at times almost completely covered by violent dust storms. Its soil is red because it contains iron oxide, commonly called rust, and its sky is also a hazy shade of red because of the constantly swirling dust. Despite the fact that it’s always cloudy on Mars, it has been one of the brightest objects in our night sky since ancient times. It is named for the Roman god of war, and its two moons are named for his Greek counterpart’s sons, Phobus (fear) and Delmos (panic), obviously not very jolly fellows. In terms of astrology, Mars rules Aries and Scorpio, and controls the aspects of all of our signs related to energy, passion, anger, determination, ambition, competition, aggression, courage, and honor. You’ll notice an important dichotomy here; Mars’ energy reminds us that we are capable of plunging into the depths of anger and soaring up to the heights of passion. It’s so necessary to remember that both are extremes, and though we may experience both, most of life is lived somewhere in between them.
Today’s cocktail had to be red of course, and so I went with a riff on a classic cocktail called a San Francisco that uses sloe gin as its base, along with two vermouths, and two different bitters. Although this drink is a Martini in terms of style, I chose to shake rather than stir so as to deliberately make the drink appear cloudy. Cheers everyone!
In Love and War
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until very cold and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with two small tomatoes to represent Mars’ moons. Enjoy!