People have always been fasinated by Mars. The Egyptians called it “The Red One” and the Babylonians called it “The Star of Death”. But it was the Romans who gave it its modern name. The Romans knew of seven bright objects in the sky, the sun, the moon and the five brightest planets. They named them after their most important gods. The Romans were great soldiers and thought Mars, the god of war, was very important. Mars, the red planet, was named after this god of war. According to Roman myth, Mars rode on a chariot pulled by two horses named Phobos and Deimos (meaning fear and panic). The two small moons of Mars are named after these two mythical horses.
Mars is situated at a distance of 227,940,000 km away from the sun.
A Martian solar day is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds.
1 Mars year is equivalent to 686.98 Earth Days. Mars travels around the sun in an oval orbit. So Mars travels around the sun once every 687-earth days (this is a Martian year).
Mars is recognized by its red and dusty landscape. The red, fiery appearance of Mars is caused by iron oxide (rust) on its surface and lots of gases.
Mars is made up of iron, covered by rock and then a thin layer of atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon along with traces of oxygen constitute the atmosphere on Mars.
Mars is referred to as the Red Planet because of its distinct red color.
The equatorial diameter is about 4228 miles, a little over half that of the Earth.
Mars has roughly the same surface area of the Earth, but is much less dense.
Mars is a “lighter” planet than Earth, having only 11 percent of the mass of Earth. A hundred pound man would weight 38 pounds on Mars.
Mars has a volatile temperature range from day to day and minute to minute, with 20-degree changes in few minutes being common.
Surface temperatures on Mars can be really amazing! The temperature can get as low as – 153 C at the poles. In the mid-latitudes, the average temperature would be about -50 degrees. The temperature on Mars may reach a high of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) at noon, near the equator in the summer
Mars has planet wide dust storms that can cover the surface for long periods of time.
The physical features of the planet include 3 main layers; the crust, the mantle and the core, we cut the earth up like this too.
- The Crust- 30 miles thick, thinner in the north than the south due to elevation. Composed volcanic rock.
- The Mantle- Just like the Earths, formed from rock.
- The Core- Composed of iron, nickel, and sulfur. Less dense than the earth and this makes the overall radius (the distance around the planet) smaller than the Earth.The largest canyon on Mars is Valles Marineris, which is 2,500 miles long and as much as 2 miles deep.
Mars has seasons like the Earth because it tilts on its axis in a manner similar to us.
Mars does not appear to have active tectonic plates.
Much like Earth, Mars has ice caps at the north and south poles. More importantly, the polar caps tend to grow and decrease in size depending upon the season. This would appear to indicate a water creation mechanism, but it is not understood.
Mars had a magnetic field like the Earth, but has lost it.
Mars has two moons, Phobos and Diemos.
Both Mars moons have diameters of roughly 20 kilometers.
One of Mars' moons, Phobos, is moving closer to Mars. Scientists speculate that one day it will crash into Mars.
The ground on Mars is complex and different. It has deep canyons, mountains, volcanoes and craters. Mars has higher mountains, and deeper canyons than any other planet. The largest canyon on Mars would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles on the Earth.
The largest mountain in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, stands on Mars. It stands at an altitude of 24 km (78,000 feet) with a base that is 600 km across. which is nearly 3 times larger than Mount Everest.
A system of canyons, Valles Marineris stretch out over the surface of Mars. It is spread over nearly 2,500 miles (4000 km). These canyons can get up to 200 km wide and 6 km deep too in some areas.
Once upon a time, there were large amounts of water on Mars. Evidence suggests that Mars may have once had rivers, streams, lakes, and maybe even an ocean may have existed some 4 billion years ago. This has led scientists to believe that Mars may have supported life some billion of years ago.
Mars Pathfinder found chemical compositions in rocks that can only be created when water is present, again verifying the planet had vast water deposits at some point in the past.Dust storms can cover much of Mars for months at a time.
Olympus Mons is the largest volcano on Mars and in the solar system.
Olympus Mons covers an area larger than the state of Arizona.
This is a really unusual mountain on Mars which looks like a face from atop, and was discovered by the Viking orbiters in late 1976. Official NASA Press Release
The seventh largest planet in the Solar System is Mars.
In 1965, Mariner 4, visited Mars. It transmitted 22 pictures of life on the Martian surface back to Earth. The pictures unveiled the truth-there were no signs of water or life on Mars.
NASA has planned a manned mission to Mars, but no launch date has been set.
Multiple probes have been sent to Mars and two rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, are currently on the surface.
Mars surface material returned by probes has shown possible signs of bacterial life, sparking energetic debate in the scientific community as to whether life exists on the planet.
THE MARS FLAG: In 2000 a Mars flag was aboard the spaceship Discovery. It was designed by a NASA engineer and carried onboard the spaceship. The flag has three vertical strips (red, green and blue). These colors symbolize the transformation of Mars from a barren planet (red) to one with life (green) and finally a fully formed planet with bodies of water. This design was suggested by Kim Stanley, the author of the SCI FI trilogy Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. This flag has been adopted by the Mars Society as the official banner for Mars.