Mars the fourth planet from the Sun. The planet is named after Mars, the Roman god of war and destruction. Mars is also known as the "Red Planet" due to its reddish appearance when seen from Earth.
Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and oddly shaped. These may be captured asteroids similar to 5261 Eureka, a Mars Trojan asteroid. Mars can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. Its apparent magnitude reaches −2.9, a brightness surpassed only by Venus, the Moon, and the Sun. For much of the year, Jupiter may appear brighter to the naked eye than Mars.
Due to faulty telescope images published in the late 19th century, it was widely believed that there were canals on Mars, built by sentient beings. This notion informed several works of popular fiction, including those of H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Popular movies depicted alien invaders as coming from Mars. In reality, there could be no such aliens, as magic had shown Mars and the other planets to be nothing but lights attached to moving crystal-spheres.
The home timeline had deemed Mars of limited value and had yet to send a manned mission to the planet in the late 2090s. However, several alternates - having no access to alternate timelines and that needing to "make do with what they had" - had embarked on extensive Martian programs. At least one of them was actively terraforming the planet by crashing ice asteroids into the surface to create oceans; however, the program was very expensive in the present while it would bear fruit only after many generations.
In an alternate designated "3477" by Crosstime Traffic, the German Empire had sent a probe to Mars and determined that it was lifeless. Consequently, it was decided that it was not worth sending a manned mission to the planet.
Humans began travelling to Mars in the 21st century. The third manned mission there, Ares III, was en route when it encountered a Roxolan fleet. This was first contact between Earth and the Roxolans, but they were unable to communicate during this brief meeting.