The first drawings of the disc were made by the Italian, Francesco Fontana, in 1636, but the markings he portrayed do not resemble anything seen later. It was Herschel who first noted visual evidence that Mars had an atmosphere and he also measured the tilt of the polar axis. As recently as the 1950s it was possible for this wave of darkening to be discussed as possible proof of vegetation burgeoning under the influence of water being released from the polar caps. In 1877 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli described canali which he had observed on the martian surface. Soviet Union were quick to take up the challenge. The construction of large rockets and miniaturized instruments opened up a completely new chapter in the study of Mars and scientists both in the United States and in the Soviet Union were quick to take up the challenge.