Red Planet Mars
Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock.com

Mars is the fourth planet in our solar system. It is the second smallest planet in our solar system after Planet Mercury. Here we will see some interesting facts about planet Mars. In many ways, Mars is the most Earth-like planet we’ve ever examined in our solar system, besides our own because of its oxygen-rich history, watery past, volcanoes, clouds, and ice caps. There is an entire geological history behind Planet Mars.

The first successful Mars flyby was in 1965 by the NASA Mariner 4 spacecraft. Mars is named after the mythological Roman ‘god of war’ who was second only to Jupiter in the Roman pantheon. Sometimes it’s also called ‘“Red Planet” due to the rusty color of its soil, which is comprised of iron-rich minerals.

Facts About Planet Mars

Radius:2106 Miles (3389 km)
Length of day:24 hours 39 minutes 35.244 seconds
Moons:2 (Phobos & Deimos)
Equatorial Diameter of Mars:6,792 km
Polar Diameter of Mars:6,752 km
Orbit Distance:227,943,824 km (1.52 AU)
Orbit Period:687 days (1.9 years)
Average Surface Temperature-55 °C
Distance From Sun:227.9 million km
Gravity:3.711 m/s²

 

1The land area of Earth is similar to that of Mars even though Mars is almost half the size of Earth

This is because almost 70% of Earth’s surface is covered by liquid water.

Earth and Mars Size Comparison
Tristan3D/Shutterstock.com

2Out of 44 Mars missions, only 18 have been successful

USSR’s Marsnik 1 and 2 were the earliest mission on planet Mars and as of 2017, there has been a total of 44 Mars missions. The most recent mission on Mars is ExoMars, which is a two-part Martian astrobiology project to search for evidence of life on Mars. It is a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

3Mars has 4 seasons just like Earth, but they are twice as long

Mars’ axial tilt is 25 degrees, close to the axial tilt of Earth which is 23.5 degrees. Becuase of this tilt, Mars experience seasons just like the Earth and since Mars takes twice as long as Earth to orbit around the Sun, the seasons are twice as long.

4The tallest mountain in our solar system is on Planet Mars

Olympus Mons is the tallest mountain in our solar system. It is a shield volcano, with a height of nearly 25 km and 624 km diameter. Compare that to the highest mountain above sea level on Earth, Mount Everest, which is only 8,850 meters and the tallest mountain ‘Mauna Kea’ which is 10,000 meters if you measure the distance from the bottom of the ocean.

Olympus_mons_comparison
Via wikimedia.org

5Sun from Mars will appear about half the size as it does on Earth

When Mars is closest to the sun, its southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun. This results in an intense but short hot summer, while the northern hemisphere experiences a cold winter. Whereas at its farthest point from the Sun, northern hemisphere of Planet Mars leans towards the Sun, resulting in a long, mild summer. while the southern hemisphere experiences a long, cold winter.

sun on mars
Juergen Faelchle/Shutterstock.com

6Martian meteorites have been found on Earth

These meteorites have trace amounts of the Martian atmosphere within them. On October 17, 2013, based on analysis of argon in the Martian atmosphere by the Mars Curiosity rover, NASA confirmed that meteorites found on Earth thought to be from Mars were indeed from Mars.

Martian meteorite Dar Al Gani 476
Matteo Chinellato/Shutterstock.com

7Mars experiences intense dust storms

Mars is infamous for intense dust storms. Sometimes these dust storms cover entire planet and kick up enough dust to be seen by telescopes on Earth. The reason behind these dust storms is the elliptical shape of the Mars’ orbit path around the Sun. Orbit path of Mars is more elongated than any other planet in our solar system which makes it experience huge dust storms.

Mars dust storms rover
Artists concept illustrates a Martian dust storm/NASA

8Sunsets are blue on Mars

This is due to Mars atmosphere. On Earth, blue light from the Sun is scattered by air molecules and spreads around the sky to create a blue sky. Mars has less than 1% of Earth’s atmosphere, which is why we only notice blue when looking through the greatest thickness of the Martian air (and dust) around the time of sunset and sunrise.

blue sunset on mars - facts about planet mars
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured Martian Sunset/NASA

9Mars is populated entirely by Robots

Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft that was sent to Mars as part of NASA’s Viking program. It became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars and perform its mission. The first rover launched by NASA was Mars Pathfinder, launched on December 4, 1996. It was the first rover to operate outside the Earth–Moon system. There has been a total of 14 artificial objects in Mars since 1970s, of which only two are still operational.

mars rover artist
u3d/Shutterstock.com

10The Movie Gravity was more expensive than Indian Mars Mission

Mars Orbiter Mission aka Mangalayaan was India’s first mission to Mars which made India the first country to enter Mars orbit in the first attempt. But the most groundbreaking thing about the whole mission was its cost. The mission was completed at a record cost of $74 million. Compare that to the $100 million that Hollywood spent on movie “Gravity.”

Mars orbiter mission cost and film gravity
Image Credits: Vox.com

11Your weight on Mars will be 60% less than on Earth

You might already know that weight and mass are not the same things. Weight is affected by gravity while mass is not. Since Mars has less mass than Earth, surface gravity on Mars is less than Earth. Surface gravity on Mars is only 38% of the gravity on Earth, so if you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 38 pounds on Mars.

12To make Mars habitable scientists want to introduce global warming on Mars

According to researchers, the best way to make Mars habitable for colonization is to inject synthetic greenhouse gases into its atmosphere which will raise the planet’s temperature. There are other proposed terraforming concepts, some of which include hydrogen bombs, nuclear power plants.

terraforming planet mars - facts about planet mars
manjik/Shutterstock.com

13Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere billions of years ago

NASA’s Curiosity rover detected high levels of manganese oxides in Martian rocks, which could indicate that higher levels of atmospheric oxygen once existed on Planet Mars. This adds to the list of other evidence such as ancient lakes on Mars and can reveal how much Earth-like was Mars.

mars oxygen found
PLRANG ART/Shutterstock.com

14Mars magnetic field is very weak

Earth’s magnetic field is vital for planet’s safety. It protects Earth from cosmic rays. Unlike the core of the Earth, which is partially molten, the core of Planet Mars is likely solid. Scientists suspect that the core is solid because Mars does not have a very strong magnetic field.

Mars magnetic field
Image credit: NASA/GSFC

15There are 687 Earth Days in a Martian Year

Mars distance from Sun is 227.9 million km, which is one and a half times more than Earth’s distance from Sun. It takes Mars 669 Sols (Martian Days) to complete its orbit around the sun.

mars and earth orbit year comparison - facts about planet mars
Image Credits: NASA

16Mars has a flag

Most widely recognized Martian flag was designed in 1998 by a planetary scientist named Pascal Lee. There is no official flag of Mars since there is no government or any other authority on Mars. There are many other illustrations of Mars flag. Thomas O. Paine, who served as the third Administrator of NASA, designed a flag in 1984. It was illustrated by artist Carter Emmart.

Pascal Lee - Mars Flag
Pascal Lee/Wikimedia.org

17Martian soil is good for growing asparagus

NASA scientists say that the soil they collected from northern polar regions of Mars has nutrients in it, which would be good for growing asparagus and turnips but not strawberries.

18Martian Moons were speculated long before their discovery

Long before their discovery in 1877, a German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, speculated that since the Earth had one moon and Jupiter had four moons (known in his time), Mars might have two moons since it orbits between Earth and Jupiter. Then in 1726 Jonathan Swift, most likely influenced by this speculation, wrote about two Martian moons in Gulliver’s Travels. However, it was just mere speculation until an American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered them using refractor of the U. S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

19NASA will be sending humans to Planet Mars in 2030s

NASA is continuously exploring Mars by sending orbiters, landers, and rovers to understand the red planet better. NASA’s Curiosity rover has already gathered enough radiation data to help protect future astronauts from radiation. The upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission will investigate ancient environment on Mars and the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen. NASA is already studying potential “Exploration Zones” on Mars and currently planning a non-colonizing round-trip manned landing on Mars in the 2030s.

Colonization of Mars is the focus of much scientific study. Currently, companies like SpaceX are trying to build sustainable transport system to travel to Mars by 2025. But most of these concepts and ideas are in very early stage and may take longer.

Also Read: Interesting Facts About Planet Jupiter

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