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Interesting Facts About Mars

Recent interest in the exploration and examination of the planet Mars by scientists and NASA has sparked an active public interest in the planet. Below is a list of interesting facts about Mars, its moons, and the red planet's relation to our home, Earth.

Interesting Facts About Mars

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the sun.
  • Mars is the seventh largest planet in our solar system.
  • Mars is referred to as the Red Planet, due to its red soil made up of iron oxide, more commonly known as rust.
  • Mars is named after the Roman god of war.

Statistics on Mars

  • The equatorial radius of Mars is 3,397 km.
  • The diameter of Mars measures 6,794 km.
  • The mass of Mars is 641,850,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg.
  • Surface temperature on Mars can range from the maximum of 310 K to a minimum of 150 K.
  • Atmospheric components on Mars consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon

Planet Mars Discoveries

  • Recently, scientists discovered enough water ice just under the surface of Mars to fill lake Michigan twice.
  • Due to its dry and dusty surface, dust storms have been known to cover the whole planet at times.
  • Mars is home to Olympus Mons, perhaps one of the largest volcanoes in our solar system. Olympus Mons is three times taller than Mount Everest and as wide as the state of New Mexico.
  • Valles Marineris is a canyon on Mars that is about as long as the United States of America is wide.

Facts About Mars’ Moons

  • Mars has two moons. Both were discovered by Asaph Hall in 1877 after a long and frustrating search for Martian moons. The two moons are Deimos and Phobos.
  • It is possible that the two moons may actually be asteroids caught in Mars’ gravity.
  • After a close examination by NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft, it was found that Phobos had a crater about 10 km (about 6 miles) wide. The crater was named after Hall’s wife’s maiden name, Stickney.
  • According to NASA, “Mars' moons are among the smallest in the solar system. Phobos is a bit larger than Deimos, and orbits only 6,000 km (3,700 miles) above the Martian surface. No known moon orbits closer to its planet. It whips around Mars three times a day, while the more distant Deimos takes 30 hours for each orbit. Phobos is gradually spiraling inward, drawing about 1.8 meters closer to the planet each century. Within 50 million years, it will either crash into Mars or break up and form a ring around the planet.”

Facts about Mars in Comparison to Earth

  • Mars is further away from the sun than Earth. Mars’ average distance from the sun is 142 million miles while Earth’s average distance from the sun is only 93 million miles.
  • Mars is slower to orbit the sun, traveling at a speed of 14.5 miles per second versus Earth’s 18.5 miles per second.
  • The temperature on Mars is much colder than Earth. The average Mars temperature is –87 degrees F with Earth’s average temperature being 57 degrees F.
  • A year on Mars (i.e. how long it takes for Mars to orbit around the sun) is 687 Earth days, versus Earth’s 365 days per year while a day on Mars is equivalent to 1.026 Earth days.
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