Mars is a planet that orbits Sol, the Earth's Sun. It is the fourth celestial body classified as a planet, distanced from Earth by between 55 and 100 million kilometers (depending on each planet's orbital coordinates).
As one of the planets in the solar system visible to Earth with the naked eye, Mars has been the subject of great fascination for humans. This was particularly prevalent in the 20th century when telescopes revealed what appeared to be great canyons that covered the surface of the planet, assumed by many to have been created by sentient life forms. As such, hundreds of science-fiction stories have been written about the planet, notably by Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury.
When space-faring craft sent back the first images of the planet's surface, people began to see faces in the landscape, and other familiar objects. A smiley face is the most common among them, found in the Galle impact crater, but also the silhouette of Kermit the Frog as revealed in a photo taken by the Viking Orbiter 2 in 1979. The shape is the result of an ancient lava flow from the volcano Alba Patera located in the Martian northern hemisphere, but it appears to display Kermit's side body profile, complete with an impact crater forming the frog's eye.
The 21st century view of Mars comes from a more practical observation of scientific findings over the past 50 years, including robot missions to the planet. One such mission involved twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, sent to the planet's surface for an intended three months of surveying (both units lasted years beyond the projected time of operation). On the occasion of NASA's success, The Jim Henson Company (on behalf of its resident Muppet scientists Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker) sent a letter of congratulations to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While recognizing the accomplishment, the letter also expressed regret that their Muppet Labs Mars Exploration Team (MuLMET) didn't get there first.
While the search continues for evidence of prehistoric life on even the cellular level, fact has never become a hindrance for human imagination. Such is the case with Sesame Street’s most famous extra-terrestrial visitors, the Martians. Speaking primarily in a series of "yip-yip"s and "uh-huh"s, these strange explorers have journeyed to Earth from their planet to learn about such odd human concepts as telephones and clocks.
Also from their home planet, but clearly a member of a different species, is the Martian Beauty, a creature equipped with nine sets of various extremities.
Non-terrestrial entities are not the only beings to have left their planet, as proven by Big Bird in a Journey to Ernie segment. The 8'2" 6-year-old once ventured to Mars in his search for Ernie, stopping on the way to ask a native for directions.
- Gonzo rides a rocket to Mars in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" in the Winter 1987 issue of Muppet Magazine.
- Tutter attempted to make a film about the planet, Mouse on Mars, in the Bear in the Big Blue House episode "The View from You."
- An unaired episode of Little Muppet Monsters was titled "Hi, Mars."
- The aliens who hatched from meteors on The Muppet Show are revealed to have originated from Mars in the 15th webisode of From the Balcony.