Mars is the fourth planet from the sun in the solar system. Often called the Red planet, Mars’ surface is covered in red iron oxide, or rust, which makes it appear red. Mars has a thin atmosphere and is orbited by two irregular shaped moons named Phobos and Deimos. It has characteristics similar to Earth and also shares similarities with our moon. Mars can be seen from earth with the naked eye and is one of the brightest objects in the night sky.
Interesting Facts about the Red Planet
- Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain within the Solar System.
- It is also the site of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system.
- Mars is approximately half the size of Earth. It is the seventh largest planet in the solar system.
- Earth’s moon is half the size of Mars.
- Mars is 227,940,000 km (1.52 AU) from the Sun.
- Mars is named after the Roman god of war.
- Many thought there was liquid water on Mars until the Mariner 4 flyby in 1965. This flyby discovered that that was not true.
- Mars is currently host to three functional orbiting spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
- Mars has two permanent polar ice caps. During a pole’s winter, it lies in continuous darkness, chilling the surface and causing 25–30% of the atmosphere to condense out into thick slabs of CO2 ice (dry ice)
- The lengths of the Martian seasons are about twice those of Earth’s. The greater distance from the Sun leads to the Martian year being about two Earth years long.
- Mars also has the largest dust storms in our Solar System. They tend to occur when Mars is closest to the Sun, and have been shown to increase the global temperature.
- Though Mars is much smaller than Earth, its surface area is about the same as the land surface area of Earth.