Mars’ polar ice caps were discovered in the mid-17th century. In the late 18th century, William Herschel proved they grow and shrink alternately, in the summer and winter of each hemisphere. By the mid-19th century, astronomers knew that Mars had certain other similarities to Earth, for example that the length of a day on Mars was almost the same as a day on Earth. They also knew that its axial tilt was similar to Earth’s, which meant it experienced seasons just as Earth does — but of nearly double the length owing to its much longer year. These observations led to increase in speculation that the darker albedo features were water and the brighter ones were land, whence followed speculation on whether Mars may be inhabited by some form of life.