The Exploration of Mars Reading Questions and Answers

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  • IELTS Reading Locating Information
  • IELTS Reading Multiple Choice Questions
  • IELTS Reading True/False/Not Given

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IELTS Reading Passage – The Exploration of Mars

The Exploration of Mars

A. The drawing and maps suggesting unusual features on the Martian surface were made by an Italian astronomer, Giovanni Schiaparelli, in the year 1877. But the telescope images were not as precise as those today. Schiaparelli said that he was able to identify channels or a network of lines. Percival Lowell, an American astronomer, provided a list of observations from his personal sightings in 1894, which he made from his observatory situated in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. Lowell was certain the Martian race had dug a vast network of channels for crop irrigation. He even said that on either side of the canals, fertile vegetation was present, which made them visible from Earth. His drawings and globes of Mars show a network of canals and oases around the planet.

B. In the late 19th century, an idea suggesting that Mars had intelligent life gained support. A science fiction classic named The War of the Worlds about a strong force from Mars trying to conquer Earth was written in 1898 by H. G. Wells. It described how the Martians adopted highly advanced technology (from 1898) to crush the Earth’s humans, who showed resistance on their way to power. In 1917, the first part of an 11-part novel series about Mars was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. What caught the audience’s attention were the unusual creatures and violent monsters on rampage from Mars. In 1938, a radio broadcast by Orson Welles on Halloween night about the War of the Worlds caused an intensely widespread panic around the country. A massive crowd in America believed this dramatic broadcast of the Martian invasion, resulting in them running in the streets in their pyjamas. 

C. Probes are crucial for us to understand other planets. A significant chunk of our current knowledge comes from these robotic space expeditions. In July 1965, Mariner sent the first pictures of Mars. The surface appeared to have a cratered and barren landscape similar to that of our moon rather than that of Earth. In 1969, 200 photographs of the southern hemisphere and pole of Mars were taken by the Mariners 6 and 7, which were launched to perform fly-by missions. In 1971, Mariner 9 was sent with the mission of orbiting the planet every 12 hours. In 1975, two Viking probes, each with a lander and an orbiter, were sent to Mars by the USA. The Landers had sampler hands that could pick up Martian rocks and carry out experiments in an attempt to find signs of life. Despite the fact that no life was discovered, they had sent the planet’s first colour pictures, consisting of the surface and atmosphere taken by the rotating cameras.

D. Based on the above analysis, doubts were raised following the discovery of a Martian meteorite on Earth. The members of the ANSMET project found the ALH84001 meteorite on the continent of Antarctica in December 1984. The meteorite from Mars was ejected approximately 17 million years ago and was present in or on the Antarctic ice sheets for 11,000 years. A type of magnetite that is only found with certain microorganisms on Earth was unveiled by NASA through a composition analysis. In the edges of carbonate globules and pre-terrestrial aqueous altered regions, a few formations resembling fossilised shells of terrestrial bacteria, along with their appendages, fibrils, and so on, were found. The formation of the objects is harmonious with the fossilised nanobacteria found on Earth, but the existence of nanobacteria itself is questionable.

E. In 1965, it was found that Mars did not have any global magnetic field to protect itself from the potentially life-threatening cosmic and solar radiation; this discovery was confirmed by the observations made by the Mars Global Surveyor in the late 1990s. It is theorised by the scientist that because of the absence of a magnetic shield, the solar wind has blown away a massive part of Mars’s atmosphere over the course of billions of years. After compiling records of cosmic radiation levels at several points on Mars’ surface, the researchers have come to the conclusion that any life that is near the first few metres of the surface would not survive due to the lethal doses of cosmic radiation. The damage to the DNA and RNA caused by this radiation would restrict life on Mars to depths below the planet’s surface larger than 7.5 metres, as per a 2007 study. Hence, the unstudied subsurface environments may be the best places to discover life on Mars. The vanishing of magnetic fields might have played a major role in the process of Martian climate change. As per the assessments of the scientists, the climate of Mars slowly changed from being warm and wet to being cold and dry after the magnetic field disappeared.

F. NASA’s recent expeditions have concentrated on an additional query: whether Mars had lakes or oceans of liquid water on its surface in the past. Hematite, a mineral that forms in the presence of water, has been discovered by scientists. As a result, the 2004 Mars Exploration Rovers expedition focused on evidence suggesting the presence of water on Mars’ ancient surface rather than on current or previous life. Water is necessary for life on Earth as well as for metabolism, as normally it is conducted by the species present on Earth. However, it cannot be present on the surface of the planet due to its current low atmospheric pressure and temperature, excluding the lowest shaded areas for extremely brief periods, and it does not appear on the surface itself. In March 2004, NASA had declared its rover had discovered proof of Mars being a wet planet in the ancient past. Following that, the prospect of discovering evidence of past life on the planet today was raised. In January 2004, it was authenticated by the ESA that the Mars Express orbiter had detected massive reservoirs of iced water at Mars’ south pole.

G. Researchers from the Center of Astrobiology (Spain) and the Catholic University of North Chile employed SOLID, a detector for evidence of life that may be used in settings comparable to the subsoil on Mars, to find an “oasis” of microbes barely two metres below the surface of the Atacama Desert. In an explanation, Victor Parro, a researcher from the Center of Astrobiology in Spain, explained that they called it a “microbial oasis” because they discovered the creatures living in a habitat with plenty of rock salt and other extremely hygroscopic materials that absorb water. He also emphasised several facts, such as the possibility that SOLID may be used to identify comparable bacteria on Mars in circumstances similar to those in Atacama.

H. The Spanish scientists’ alternative scenario is even more interesting: if the samples discovered could use DNA as their genetic code, as life on Earth does. It is implausible that such a highly specialised and complex molecule as DNA could evolve differently on the two planets, implying that life on Mars and Earth must have a common origin. DNA based life first emerged on Mars and then on Earth, where it developed into the multiple forms of plants and creatures that exist today. If this were true, we would have to accept the logical conclusion that we are all Martians. And if not, we would merely continue searching for the signs of life.

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The Exploration of Mars IELTS Reading Questions

Questions 1-6

The reading Passage has seven paragraphs A-H. Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A- H, in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet. NB You may use any letter more than once.

1. A particular agricultural structure was specifically depicted.
2. The climate on Mars had undergone a terrifying transformation.
3. Martian evidence on Earth.
4. The project that aims to find life on Mars in similar conditions. 
5. Mars and Earth may share the same life origin.
6. Attempts in scientific investigation to find liquid water.

Questions 7-10

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D. Write your answers in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet.

7. How is Mars described in the passage by Percival Lowell?

A. Canals of Mars are broader than that of Earth.
B. Perfect observation location is in Arizona.
C. Actively moving Martian lives are found by observation.
D. Dedicated water and agriculture trace is similar to the Earth.

8. How did people’s opinion on Mars change from the 19th century?

A. After listening to a famous radio program, they learned a new concept.
B. They experienced a Martian attack.
C. They gained knowledge about Mars through some literature works.
D. They attended lectures given by famous writers.

9.  In the 1960s, which information about Mars was sent back by Probes, which were sent to space true?

A. It was not as vivid as the earth.
B. It contained the same substance as in the moon.
C. It had different images from the following probes.
D. It has a landscape full of rock and river.

10. What did the project preceded by technology called SOLID in the Atacama Desert imply?

A. Life had not yet been found yet in the Atacama Desert.
B. This technology could not be used to identify life on a similar condition of Mars.
C. It could be employed to explore organisms under Martian conditions.
D. Atacama Desert is the only place that has a suitable environment for organisms.

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Questions 11-14

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage 1? In the boxes 11-14 of your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement is true
FALSE if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given the passage.

11. Technology of Martian beings was superior to what humans had at that time in every field according to The War of the Worlds.
12. Proof sent by Viking probes has not been challenged yet.
13. Analysis on a meteorite from Mars found a substance which is connected to some germs.
14.  According to Victor Parro, their project will be deployed on Mars after they identified DNA substances on earth.

Enhance your skills in identifying information as True, False, or Not Given. Click here to discover expert strategies and techniques for mastering this question type in the IELTS Reading section.

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Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

The Exploration of Mars Reading answers

1.  A
2.  E
3.  D
4.  G
5.  H
6. F
7.  D
8.  C
9.  A
10.  B
13. TRUE


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