Mars Planet is nicknamed the “red planet” because it is covered with rust-like dust. Even the atmosphere is a pinkish red, coloured by tiny particles of dust thrown up from the surface. Mars has many massive volcanoes and is home to Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in our solar system, it stands 21km high and is 600km across the base.
Facts About Mars Planet
- Mars Planet experiences violent dust storms which continually change its surface.
- Mars has a very thin atmosphere made mostly of carbon dioxide. It is not thick enough to trap the sun’s heat like Venus, so the planet is very cold. Temperatures range from -120 Degrees Celsius on winter nights to 25 Degrees Celsius in the summer.
- Mars Planet has many channels, plains and canyons on the surface which could have been caused by water erosion in the past.
- Mars has very weak gravity which cannot hold onto the atmosphere well.
- The polar ice caps consist of frozen Co2 (dry ice) which lies over a layer of ice.
- The Egyptians gave Mars Planet its first recorded name: Har dècher (“The red one”). The Babylonians called it Nergal (“Star of death”).
- The Greeks and Romans named the Mars planet after their respective gods of war, Ares, and Mars. The Hebrews called it Ma’adim, or “One who blushes.” Many ancient people believed the reddish color came from actual blood on the planet.
- The month of March is named after Mars Planet.
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- The symbol for Mars Planet looks like a shield and a spear from the war god Mars/Ares. It is also the symbol for the male sex.
- The ancient Greeks thought that Earth was the center of the universe and that Mars Planet was one of the five travelling stars that revolved around it.
- Egyptians called Mars the “the backward traveller” because Mars appeared to move backwards through the zodiac every 25.7 months.
- Mars Planet gets its red color from the iron oxide (rust) in its soil
- Mars’ red color is due to iron oxide, also known as rust, and has the consistency of talcum powder. Literally, the metallic rocks on Mars are rusting.
- The atmosphere (mostly made up of carbon dioxide) on Mars Planet is so thin that water cannot exist in liquid form—it can exist only as water vapour or ice. Liquid water is considered for many scientists to be the “holy grail” of Mars.
- No human could survive the low pressure of Mars. If you went to Mars Planet without an appropriate space suit, the oxygen in your blood would literally turn into bubbles, causing immediate death.
- If you were driving 60 mph in a car, it would take 271 years and 221 days to get to Mars from Earth.
- Mars lacks an ozone layer; therefore, the surface of Mars is bathed in a lethal dose of radiation every time the sun rises.
- Mars contains the largest labyrinth of intersecting canyons in the solar system called the Noctis Labyrinthus (“labyrinth of the night”).
- Mars Planet has the largest and most violent dust storms in our entire solar system. These storms often have winds topping 125 mph, can last for weeks, and can cover the entire planet. They usually occur when Mars is closest to the sun.
- Only 1/3 of spacecraft sent to Mars Planet have been successful, leading some scientists to wonder if there is a Martian “Bermuda triangle” or a “Great Galactic Ghoul” that likes to eat spacecraft.
- In 1976, Viking I photographed a mesa on Mars that had the appearance of a human face. Many individuals and organizations interested in extraterrestrial life argued that intelligent beings created the “Face.” Though the Mars Global Surveyor (1997-2006) revealed that the “Face” was likely an optical illusion, believers in the “Face” charged NASA with stripping data from the new image before it was released to the public.
- Mars Planet has an enormous canyon named Valles Marineris (Mariner Valley) which is an astounding 2,500 miles long and four miles deep. As long as the continental United States, this gigantic canyon was likely formed by the tectonic “cracking” of Mars’ crust and is the longest known crevice in the solar system.
- During the Renaissance, Mars played a central role in one of the most important and fiercest intellectual battles in the history of Western civilization: whether Earth is the center of the universe. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) coherently explained that Mars seems to move backwards across the sky because Earth overtakes Mars Planet in its orbit around the sun.
- Mars Planet is formed about 4.5 billion years ago and is about 4,000 miles wide (half the diameter of Earth). Because so much of Earth is covered by oceans, the amount of land surface of the two planets is nearly equal. Mars Planet is also much lighter than Earth, with only 1/10 of its mass. It’s the fourth planet from the sun and is the last terrestrial (rocky) planet (the outer planets are all gaseous).
- The Earth environment most closely resembling the current conditions of Mars is that of the Antarctic deserts. However, even the most hostile environments on Earth are far more suitable for life than the surface of Mars Planet.
- Mars’ crust is thicker than Earth’s and is made up of one piece, unlike Earth’s crust which consists of several moving plates.
- Although it is much colder on Mars than on Earth, the similar tilt of Earth’s and Mars’ axes means they have similar seasons. Like Earth’s, Mars’ north and south polar caps shrink in the summer and grow in the winter. In addition, a day on Mars is 24 hours 37 minutes—nearly the same as Earth’s. No other planet shares such similar characteristics with Earth.
- Mars’ seasons are twice as long as those on Earth because it takes Mars 687 days to orbit the sun, twice as long as Earth’s 365-day journey.
- With no large moon like Earth’s to stabilize it, Mars periodically tilts much more toward the sun, creating warmer summers on Mars than it otherwise would have.
- The Earth’s moon is 240,000 miles away. Earth’s next closest neighbour is Venus, which comes as near as 24 million miles. After the moon and Venus, Mars Planet is our next closest neighbour at 34 million miles away—though when Mars Planet and Earth are at the opposite sides of their orbits around the sun, they are separated by 249 million miles.
- Mars Planet is home to Hellas, a vast and featureless plain that covers 1300 miles (the size of the Caribbean Sea). It was created by asteroids crashing into the planet’s surface of Mars nearly four billion years ago.