There are fascinating facts about Mars, it is the last of the terrestrial planets, the fourth planet from the sun and next after Earth. It is named after a mythical Roman god of war. It is also referred to as the Red Planet due to its characteristic reddish color appearance on the surface. Mars is 227.9 million km from the sun, it is smaller than Earth, the only planet smaller than Mars in the solar system is Mercury. The atmosphere of Mars is thin and mainly composed of carbon dioxide. The planet Mars has sparked a lot of interest and many space crafts have been sent there to conduct studies. So, what are some of the interesting facts about the planet Mars?
Earth and Mars have almost the same landmass
Although Mars is only 15% the volume of the Earth and 10% its mass, the landmass on Mars is approximately the same as Earth since over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Since
Mars has a surface gravity that is 37% the gravity on Earth, ideally you could jump three times higher on Mars than on Earth and weigh 0.37x what you weigh on Earth.
Mars has the tallest Mountain on the Solar System
The mountain is known as Olympus Mons and it is a shield volcano with a diameter of 600km and a height of 21km which is approximately three times the height of Mount Everest. According to scientists, Olympus Mons is still thought to be active based on recent evidence of volcanic lava flows.
Only about half the number of missions to Mars have been successful
The total number of missions to Mars is about 40 which includes landers, rovers, and orbiters excluding flybys. There have been only 18 successful missions out of the 40 with latest arrival on 24th September 2014 being the MOM Mangalyaan orbiter from the India Space Research Organization. In the year 2012, there was a previous Mars Curiosity mission, the Maven mission, which arrived just two days before the Indian mission. Future Mars missions include the ExoMars mission from the European Space Agency which consists of a lander, rover plus an orbiter. The next mission by NASA to be launched in March 2016, the Insight robotic lander mission is set to arrive on Mars by September, 2016.
Particles from Mars have been discovered on Earth
Meteorites powerfully ejected from planet Mars are believed to have traces of the Martian atmosphere within them. After orbiting the solar system for millions of years, these meteorites along with other astronomical debris and objects finally came crashing to the surface of the Earth after entering its atmosphere. These materials have provided scientists with crucial information about Mars for space missions after being studied.
Frozen water exists on Mars
The existence of water on Mars has been of great interest since water is essential for life. The Mars rover is on a mission to find habitable areas on Mars. Due to the thin Martian atmosphere, water on the surface can neither exist in large quantities nor flow for long. However, at the poles there has been confirmed existence of water in form of ice. There is possibility of ice on other frigid locations as well. What is of concern is whether during the summer enough ice melts to water long enough to support some form of life.
Mars has two Asteroid-Like Moons
Mars has two moons Phobos and Deimos that have similar compositions to asteroids present in the solar system. The moons must have been forced into orbit by the gravitational force from Mars according to studies by NASA scientists. Phobos appears to be headed for doom, in the next 30-50 million years, it will be overcome by the tidal force of Mars and will either crash on the surface of the planet or tear apart.
Mars has the most intense dust storms in the solar system
The dust storms on Mars are large and can cover the entire planet lasting for months. The orbital path of planet Mars is much more elongated than the rest of the planets due to its elliptical shape leading to extreme seasons.
The seasons on Mars last twice as long compared to Earth
Just like Earth Mars has seasons, however since the axial tilt on Mars is 25.19 degrees and that on Earth is 22.5 degrees making the seasons on Mars long and intense.
Mars has no Magnetic Field
According to scientists it is believed Mars lost its magnetic field over 4 billion years ago.
Apart from Earth, Mars is the most habitable planet
There will be an increase in space missions to Mars to try to understand the planet and the possibility of life existing on it. The next step would be to colonize the planet Mars.
The length of a day on Mars is almost the same as Earth
One full rotation on Mars takes 24hrs 40mins making the length of a day on Mars very close to that on Earth.
A year on Mars is longer than Earth
The eccentricity of the Martian orbital path makes Mars have a longer year, equivalent to 686 earth days, compared to Earth and other terrestrial planets.
Mars used to have water and a thick atmosphere
The presence of canyons and valleys on the surface of Mars is evidence that the planet at one point in time had water flowing on it. The water was able to flow because a thick atmosphere used to exist.
More facts about Mars will be discovered as scientists continue to explore the Red Planet. Hopefully, we will be able to colonize Mars in the near future.
...(download the rest of the essay above)