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Portrait of Giovanni Schiaparelli
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Giovanni Schiaparelli

Gioavanni Schiaparelli was an Italian astronomer who lived between 1835-1910. He observed patterned straight lines on the surface of Mars, and called them "canali", Italian for channels.

Unfortunately, "canali" was mistranslated into canals, which implied that artificial structures existed on the red planet. This caused a flood of study on Mars, with many scientists expecting to find life there.

Schiaparelli also studied comets and how they caused meteor showers.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF