All About Mars
Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It's red because of rusty iron in the ground.
Explore Mars! Click and drag to rotate the planet. Scroll or pinch to zoom in and out. Credit: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD)
Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.
There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground.
Scientists want to know if Mars may have had living things in the past. They also want to know if Mars could support life now or in the future.
Structure and Surface
- Mars is a terrestrial planet. It is small and rocky.
- Mars has a thin atmosphere.
- Mars has an active atmosphere, but the surface of the planet is not active. Its volcanoes are dead.
Time on Mars
- One day on Mars lasts hours. It is just a little longer than a day on Earth.
- One year on Mars is Earth days. It is almost twice as long as one year on Earth.
- Mars has two moons. Their names are Phobos and Deimos.
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. That means Earth and Jupiter are Mars’ neighboring planets.
- Mars has been known since ancient times because it can be seen without advanced telescopes.
- Several missions have visited Mars. And Mars is the only planet we have sent rovers to. They drive around Mars, taking pictures and measurements.
Spirit and Opportunity
What does Mars look like?
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took this picture of Mars as it was making its closest approach to Earth in 60, years!
In this picture of Mars, you can see water-ice clouds, polar ice, and some rocky features.
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity took this picture with its panoramic camera near "Solander Point" on Mars.
Make a Mask
For more information visit:
NASA's Mars Exploration Program
NASA Solar System Exploration
10 Fun Mars facts For kids!
Mars is the fourth planet from its Sun and is the second smallest planet in the solar system. What else do we know about this amazing place?
It’s named after the Roman god of war.
The planet is red because of a mineral called iron oxide that’s very common on its surface.
Mars is a terrestrial planet
It’s rocky with craters and mountains. Not a gas giant like Jupiter or Saturn. Its landscape includes some of the tallest volcanoes that we know about in the solar system. One’s 21km high and km in diameter.
Even though it’s billions of years old, scientists think it could still be active.
An interesting fact is that even though Earth is much bigger that Mars, they both have approximately the same amount of landmass! That’s because most of Earth is covered in water. There’s therefore plenty of land to explore on Mars.
Mars atmosphere is very thin.
Its composed primarily of carbon dioxide.
The Martian gravity is only a third that of the Earth’s.
This means you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars.
Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system.
They can last for months and cover the entire planet.
Mars has seasons just like on Earth but they’re much longer because Mars is further away from the Sun.
The seasons are more extreme too because Mars’s orbit is in an elliptical shape. That means when it gets cold it gets really cold – even the hottest summer’s day would be not much above freezing. Not exactly beach weather!
A Martian year lasts days – getting on for double that on Earth.
Each day themselves are about the same as on Earth – 24 hours and then an extra 9 minutes.
Mars has two moons called Phobos and Deimos.
Sometime is the next 2 to 4 million years Phobos is expected to be torn apart by gravity – leaving a ring of dust and debris around the planet.
As you can see Mars is a pretty cool place!
You can hear Deep Space High: Destination Mars on Fun Kids Radio or listen to the series below!
Deep Space High: Destination Mars with support from the UK Space Agency.Add a comment
Mars facts for kids
Mars as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope
Average orbital speed
|Inclination||° to ecliptic|
° to Sun's equator
° to invariable plane
Longitude of ascending node
Argument of perihelion
|Flattening||89 ± 15|
Sidereal rotation period
Equatorial rotation velocity
|km/h ( m/s)|
North pole right ascension
|21 h 10 min 44 s|
North pole declination
|Albedo||(geometric) or (bond)|
|+ to − (brightness in the sky)|
|Composition by volume||% Carbon dioxide|
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war, and is often referred to as the "Red Planet" because the reddish iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance that is distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars can easily be seen from Earth, as can its reddish coloring.
Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features like those of the impact craters of the Moon, and valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth It has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped.
It is nearly 7, kilometres (km) wide; just over half the width of the Earth. Its volume is about 15% of the Earth. Since a lot of the Earth is covered by water, the total surface area of the Mars is nearly as large as all of the land on the Earth. It is possible that its size may eventually permit human colonies.
Ancient and medieval studies
For more details, see Exploration of Mars
Our records of watching and recording Mars started with ancient Egyptian astronomers in the 2nd millennium BC.
Detailed observations of the location of Mars were made by Babylonian astronomers who developed methods using math to predict the future position of the planet. The ancient Greek philosophers and astronomers developed a model of the solar system with the Earth at the center ('geocentric'), instead of the sun. They used this model to explain the planet's motions. Indian and Islamic astronomers estimated the size of Mars and its distance from Earth. Similar work was done by Chinese astronomers.
In the 16th century, Nicholas Copernicus proposed a model for the Solar System in which the planets follow circular orbits about the Sun. This 'heliocentric' model was the beginning of modern astronomy. It was revised by Johannes Kepler, who gave an elliptical orbit for Mars which better fit the data from our observations.
The first observations of Mars by telescope was by Galileo Galilei in Within a century, astronomers discovered distinct albedo features (changes in brightness) on the planet, including the dark patch and polar ice caps. They were able to find the planet's day (rotation period) and axial tilt. Better telescopes developed early in the 19th century allowed permanent Martian features to be mapped in detail. The first crude map of Mars was published in , followed by better maps from onward.
Yellow clouds on Mars have been observed since the s, which were windblown sand or dust. During the s, the range of Martian surface temperature was measured; it ranged from –85 to 7 oC. The planetary atmosphere was found to be arid with only traces of oxygen and water. In , Gerard Kuiper showed that the thin Martian atmosphere contained extensive carbon dioxide; roughly double the quantity found in Earth's atmosphere. The first standard naming of Mars surface features was set in by the International Astronomical Union.
If you were on Mars, you would be lighter, as Mars' gravity only has a force about two fifths as strong as the that of Earth's. You could lift objects that weigh almost three times as much compared to similar objects here on the Earth. You could jump up almost three times higher, and it would take much longer to fall to the ground from the same height. Even so there are some things you couldn't do. Although a big rock would weigh less and you could pick it up, it would still have the same mass. If you tried to catch it, it would knock you over, and if it landed on you it would crush you.
Mars lost its magnetosphere 4 billion years ago, possibly because of numerous asteroid strikes, so the solar wind interacts directly with the Martian ionosphere, lowering the atmospheric density by stripping away atoms from the outer layer.
Mars has a very thin atmosphere with barely any oxygen (it is mostly carbon dioxide). The atmosphere of Mars consists of about 96% carbon dioxide, % argon and % nitrogen along with traces of oxygen and water, Methane has been detected in the Martian atmosphere. Methane can exist in the Martian atmosphere for only a limited period before it is destroyed—estimates of its lifetime range from –4 years. Its presence despite this short lifetime indicates that an active source of the gas must be present. Volcanic activity, cometary impacts, and the presence of microbial life forms are among possible sources. Mars's atmosphere is too thin to protect Mars from meteors, which is why the lower half of Mars has so many craters.
The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing incredibly tiny particles which give the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface. It may take on a pink hue due to iron oxide particles suspended in it. Because there is an atmosphere, however thin it is, the sky does change colour when the sun rises and sets.
When Mars comes closest to the Sun, the atmosphere can stir up storms of dust. Mars has the largest dust storms in the Solar System. These can vary from a storm over a small area, to some storms that are so gigantic they can cover the entire planet in clouds of dust. Dust storms on Mars can last for hundreds of days, with wind speeds of up to kilometres per hour, and have been shown to increase the global temperature. Huge storms like these have been seen from the Earth through telescopes.
Water on Mars
Main page: Water on Mars
Liquid water is necessary for life and metabolism, so if water was present on Mars, the chances of life evolving is improved. The Viking orbiters found evidence of possible river valleys in many areas, erosion and, in the southern hemisphere, branched streams. Since then, rovers and orbiters have also looked closely and eventually proved water was on the surface at one time, and is still found as ice in the polar ice caps and underground.
Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to low atmospheric pressure, which is less than 1% of the Earth's, except at the lowest elevations for short periods. The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water. The volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the entire planetary surface to a depth of 11 meters (36 ft).
North polar early summer ice cap ()
South polar midsummer ice cap ()
In November , NASA reported finding a large amount of underground ice in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior.
Mars does not have any liquid water on the surface now, but signs of run-off on the surface were probably caused by water. Landforms seen on Mars strongly suggest that liquid water at some time existed on the planet's surface. Huge areas of ground have been scraped and eroded. These are known as 'outflow channels', and cut across the surface in about 25 places.
Like the Earth, Mars has ice caps at its poles. However, they are made from frozen carbon dioxide as well as ice. During the Martian winter at each pole, the cap grows as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere freezes. The cap shrinks again during the Martian summer. As on Earth, when it is winter at one pole it is summer at the other.
Today, features on Mars are named from a variety of sources. Albedo features (how reflective and bright something is) are named for classical mythology. Craters larger than 60 km are named for deceased scientists and writers and others who have contributed to the study of Mars. Craters smaller than 60 km are named for towns and villages of the world with populations of less than , Large valleys are named for the word "Mars" or "star" in various languages; small valleys are named for rivers.
Because Mars is the one of the closest planets to Earth in the Solar System, many wondered if there was any kind of life there. Today we know that the kind of life, if any, would be some simple bacteria-type organisms. The surface of Mars is a lot like a desert on Earth; it is very dry and dusty, but it is also very cold.
The outer, rocky surface of Mars is called the crust. Most of the crust is made from basalt, a type of rock made when lava grows cold. Like the Earth, Mars has a thick layer of rock below the crust called the mantle. The mantle is much hotter than the crust, and the mantle rock is partly molten. But the crust on Mars has grown thick, so the lava from the mantle no longer reaches the surface. There are volcanoes on Mars, but they are no longer active.
The planet Mars is made of rock. The ground there is red because of iron oxide (rust) in the rocks and dust. The planet's atmosphere is very thin and contains a lot of carbon dioxide and a very tiny amount of oxygen. The temperatures on Mars are colder than on Earth, because it is farther away from the Sun and has less air to keep warmth in. There is water ice and frozen carbon dioxide at the north and south poles. The average thickness of the planet's crust is about 50 km (31 mi), with a maximum thickness of km (78 mi).
The shield volcanoOlympus Mons (Mount Olympus) is an extinct volcano in the vast upland region Tharsis, which contains several other large volcanoes. Olympus Mons is roughly three times the height of Mount Everest, which in comparison stands at just over km ( mi).
It is also home to Valles Marineris, the third largest rift system (canyon) in the Solar System, 4, km long. It is called a terrestrial planet because its outer layers are made of rocky material like the Earth.
After the formation of the planets, all experienced the "Late Heavy Bombardment". About 60% of the surface of Mars shows a record of impacts from that era. Mars is scarred by a number of impact craters: a total of 43, craters with a diameter of 5 km ( mi) or greater have been found. The largest confirmed of these is the Hellas impact basin, clearly visible from Earth.
Due to the smaller mass of Mars, the probability of an object colliding with the planet is about half that of Earth. Mars is located closer to the asteroid belt, so it has an increased chance of being struck by materials from that source. Mars is more likely to be struck by short-period comets (those that lie within the orbit of Jupiter). In spite of this, there are far fewer craters on Mars compared with the Moon, because the atmosphere of Mars provides protection against small meteors.
Some meteorites hit Mars with so much force a few pieces of Mars went flying into space – even to Earth. Rocks on Earth are sometimes found which have chemicals that are exactly like the ones in Martian rocks. These rocks also look like they fell really quickly through the atmosphere, so it is reasonable to think they came from Mars.
NASA maintains a catalog of 34 Mars meteorites, that is, meteorites which originally came from Mars. These assets are highly valuable since they are the only physical samples available of Mars.
Studies at NASA's Johnson Space Center show that at least three of the meteorites contain possible evidence of past life on Mars, in the form of microscopic structures resembling fossilized bacteria (so-called biomorphs). Although the scientific evidence collected is reliable, and the rocks are correctly described, what made the rocks look like they do is not clear.
Orbit and rotation
A Martian day is called a sol, and is a little longer than an Earth day. Mars's average distance from the Sun is roughly million km ( million mi), and its orbital period is (Earth) days. The solar day (or sol) on Mars is only slightly longer than an Earth day: 24 hours, 39 minutes, and seconds. A Martian year is equal to Earth years, or 1 year, days, and hours.
It rotates on a tilt, just like the Earth does, so it has four different seasons. Of all the planets in the Solar System, the seasons of Mars are the most Earth-like, due to the similar tilts of the two planets' rotational axes. The lengths of the Martian seasons are about twice those of Earth's, because its orbital period is that much longer.
Martian surface temperatures vary from lows of about − °C (− °F) (at the winter polar caps) to highs of up to 35 °C (95 °F) (in equatorial summer). The wide range in temperatures is due mostly to the thin atmosphere which cannot store much solar heat. The planet is also times as far from the Sun as Earth, resulting in just 43% of the amount of sunlight.
Observation and exploration
Main page: Exploration of Mars
Dozens of crewless spacecraft, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, have been sent to Mars by the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, and India to study the planet's surface, climate, and geology.
Mariner 9 and Viking made maps of Mars using the data from their missions, and another was the Mars Global Surveyor mission, launched in and operated until late , that allowed complete, extremely detailed maps of the Martian topography, magnetic field and surface minerals. These maps are available online; for example, at Google Mars. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Express continued exploring with new instruments, and supporting lander missions.
As of [update], Mars is host to eight functioning spacecraft: six in orbit— Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Orbiter Mission and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and two on the surface—Mars Science LaboratoryCuriosity (rover) and InSight (lander).
Another rover, Opportunity, is inactive now, but NASA still hopes to reestablish contact with it. The public can request images of Mars via the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiWish program.
The Mars Science Laboratory, named Curiosity, launched on November 26, , and reached Mars on August 6, UTC. It is larger and more advanced than the Mars Exploration Rovers, with a movement rate up to 90 m ( ft) per hour.
Experiments include a laser chemical sampler that can deduce the make-up of rocks at a distance of 7 m (23 ft). On February 10, , the Curiosity rover obtained the first deep rock samples ever taken from another planetary body, using its on-board drill. The same year, it discovered that Mars's soil contains between % and 3% water by mass (though it is attached to other compounds and thus not freely accessible).
The European Space Agency will launch the ExoMars rover and surface platform in July The United Arab Emirates' Mars Hope orbiter is planned for launch in , reaching Mars orbit in The probe will make a global study of the Martian atmosphere.
Several plans for a human mission to Mars have been proposed throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, but no active plan has an arrival date sooner than the s. SpaceX founder Elon Musk presented a plan in September to, optimistically, launch space tourists to Mars in at an estimated development cost of US$10 billion.
In October , President Barack Obama renewed U.S. policy to pursue the goal of sending humans to Mars in the s, and to continue using the International Space Station as a technology incubator in that pursuit. The NASA Authorization Act of directed NASA to get humans near or on the surface of Mars by the early s.
NASA provides two online tools: Mars Trek, which provides visualizations of the planet using data from 50 years of exploration, and Experience Curiosity, which simulates traveling on Mars in 3-D with Curiosity.
Main page: Mars in fiction
The depiction of Mars in fiction has been stimulated by its dramatic red color and by nineteenth century scientific idea's that its surface conditions might support not just life but intelligent life. Thus originated a large number of science fiction stories, among which is H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, published in , in which Martians seek to escape their dying planet by invading Earth.
Influential works included Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, in which human explorers accidentally destroy a Martian civilization, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series, C. S. Lewis' novel Out of the Silent Planet (), and a number of Robert A. Heinlein stories before the mid-sixties.
Jonathan Swift made reference to the moons of Mars, about years before their actual discovery by Asaph Hall, detailing reasonably accurate descriptions of their orbits, in the 19th chapter of his novel Gulliver's Travels.
A comic figure of an intelligent Martian, Marvin the Martian, appeared in Haredevil Hare () as a character in the Looney Tunesanimated cartoons of Warner Brothers, and has continued as part of popular culture to the present.
After the Mariner and Viking spacecraft had returned pictures of Mars as it really is, an apparently lifeless world, these ideas about Mars had to be abandoned, and a trend for accurate, realist depictions of human colonies on Mars developed, the best known of which may be Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. Theories about the Face on Mars and other mysterious landmarks spotted by space probes have meant that ancient civilizations continue to be a popular theme in science fiction, especially in film.
Images for kids
View of Mars from the Mars Orbiter
Mars, Earth size comparison
Artist's impression of how Mars may have looked four billion years ago
Exposure of silica-rich dust uncovered by the Spirit rover
These new impact craters on Mars occurred sometime between and , as detected from orbit
Bonneville crater and Spirit rover's lander
Image of the Victoria Crater was taken by the HiRISE camera on board Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
Viking 1 lander's sampling arm scooped up soil samples for tests
Detection of impact glass deposits (green spots) at Alga crater, a possible site for preserved ancient life
One of Mars two moons - Phobos
Panorama of Gusev crater, where Spirit rover examined volcanic basalts
Mars Science Laboratory under parachute during its atmospheric entry at Mars
Surface with rocks everywhere photographed by Mars Pathfinder
Microscopic photo taken by Opportunity showing a gray hematite concretion, suggesting the past presence of liquid water
Mars Rover Mission image from "Spirit"
An artist’s rendition of the InSight lander operating on the surface of Mars
Image from ESA’s Mars Express shows Korolev crater, an kilometre-across feature found in the northern lowlands of Mars
Burns Cliff inside of Endurance Crater - Opportunity had a bit of difficulty reaching this spot due to the slope, its recorded wheel movement indicated a high degree of slippage
NASA plans to grow food on future spacecraft and on other planets such as Mars
Concept of Mars food production facilities
Avalanche on North pole scarp on Mars
Possible methane sources on Mars
Artists concept of Curiosity approaching Mars
This hole, slightly smaller than a U.S. dime, was drilled by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover into a rock called "Telegraph Peak," within the layer of Mount Sharp
Mars Facts for Kids
Mars is named after the Roman god of war. For the Greeks, Mars was known as Ares. It was named after the god of war because of its red color.
Key Facts & Summary
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet of the Solar System.
- Mars is the most widely searched planet for life, inspiring many works of fiction.
- The first person to observe Mars with the use of a telescope was Galileo Galilei. He observed the Red Planet in
- Mars is million kilometers / million miles away from the Sun.
- Light from the Sun reaches Mars in about 13 minutes.
- Mars is around two times smaller than Earth. It has a diameter of km / mi.
- Mars is around 10 times less massive than Earth.
- Mars is the outermost terrestrial planet, outside Earth’s orbit. It is 50% farther away from the Sun than Earth.
- Mars has two known natural satellites, Phobos and Deimos.
- Phobos is predicted to suffer a collision with Mars in the distant future.
- The atmosphere on Mars is thin, mostly comprised of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon gases.
- The tallest volcano/mountain in the Solar System is located on Mars. It is named Olympus Mons and it seems to have a height of 21 km / 13 mi.
- Mars also has the biggest canyon in the Solar System. It is named Valles Marines. It is km / mi long and reaches depths of 7 km / 4 mi deep. The Grand Canyon on Earth is only km / mi long, and only km / 1 mi deep.
- Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field however some areas are highly magnetized.
- The average temperatures on Mars is degrees Fahrenheit / degrees Celsius.
- Mars represents masculinity and the symbol of the planet is used for the male gender.
Mars is widely known as the Red planet. Its reddish appearance is caused by the presence of rusty iron in the ground. The name of the month March is derived from Mars.
Mars is visible to the naked eye, and as such, you can see it without the use of a telescope or binoculars. The Red planet is very similar to Earth, and scientists are trying to find out if life was present there.
Surface and Structure
In many ways, Mars can be considered Earth’s brother. It has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. There are many signs of ancient floods on the Red Planet, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds.
There is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground, especially on hillsides. This may be great if people will go there in the future, but observations continue.
Mars is the seventh-largest planet of the Solar System and the fourth planet from the Sun. It has the most varied and complex terrain than any of the terrestrial planets, except for Earth.
On Mars’s surface, we have discovered the biggest mountain in the Solar System. It is named Olympus Mons, and it is three times bigger than the largest mountain on Earth, Everest.
Another great feature of Mars is Valles Marineris, a network of canyons that run km / mi long and stand from 2 to 7 km / 1 to 4 mi tall.
Hellas Planitia is a huge crater on Mars created from an ancient impact. It is located on the Red Planet’s southern hemisphere and its over 6 km / mi deep and km / mi across.
Oceans and lakes may have existed on Mars long ago, but it seems that water was only around for a short period. Some believe that water exists underneath Mars’s surface.
There are many differences in Mars’s southern and northern hemispheres. For example, in the southern hemisphere, many ancient cratered highlands are present, similar to the ones on the Moon.
In the northern hemisphere, plains have undergone changes since the planet formed long ago, and this hemisphere is also lower in elevation.
Time on Mars
A day on Mars is a little longer than a day on Earth. It lasts about hours. A year on Mars, however, or the time that takes for the Red Planet to circle our Sun, lasts about Earth days or almost twice as long as a year on Earth.
- Mars has seasons just like Earth, but they last longer. This is because it takes longer for it to orbit the Sun. The seasons vary in length since Mars has an egg-shaped orbit around the Sun.
- The longest season on Mars is spring, which lasts for days. Autumn is the shortest lasting only days.
- Occasionally, winds on Mars are strong enough to create dust storms. It takes months for all the dust to settle, and this is a great impediment for the space probes sent there.
- Mars doesn’t have a ring system like Saturn. However, one of its moons, Phobos, will crash on Mars in the distant future and this may create a ring system around the Red Planet.
- Many observations and analyses indicate that Mars was once very similar to Earth, having water or even whole oceans.
- If you stood on Mars and looked at the Sun, it would appear about half the size as we see it on Earth.
- Pieces of Mars have fallen on Earth. Scientists are studying these materials to this day.
- If you would weigh kg on Earth, on Mars you would weigh 38kg because Mars’s gravity is only 38% that of Earth.
- Around six Mars-sized planets would fit the volume of Earth. However, it would take 7 million Mars-sized planets to fill the volume of the Sun.
- A book written by Jonathan Swift mentioned the two moons of Mars years before they were actually discovered.
- Some believe that the Valles Marines on Mars is the result of a huge collision.
Size and Comparison
Mars is and the second-smallest planet of the Solar System after Mercury, having a diameter of km / mi. It is 30% bigger than Mercury and almost two times smaller than Earth and Venus.
Neptune and Uranus have around times the diameter of Mars. Saturn, on the other hand, has times its diameter. But the biggest planet in the Solar System is Jupiter, and it has more than 20 times the diameter of Mars.
Life on Mars
Throughout much of the 19th century, it was believed that life on Mars existed partly due to a mistake. An astronomer believed that he observed straight lines on Mars’ surface.
Many believed that this could only be the work of intelligent life as the straight lines resembled canals for irrigation purposes. However, as more advanced telescopes were built and observations on Mars’s surface were more accurate – it was revealed that the straight lines were an optical illusion.
Mars and Venus atmosphere similarity
If Mars is among the most hospitable planets, Venus is among the most inhospitable. However, their atmosphere is similar in regards to one component – carbon dioxide – 95% for Mars, 97% for Venus.
However, the main difference is that Venus’s greenhouse effect traps temperatures at around degrees Celsius, while Mars doesn’t exceed 20 degrees Celsius.
Mars has a thin but active atmosphere. The surface of the Red Planet isn’t active, however, its volcanoes are dead. The atmosphere on Mars is made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.
The planets closest to Mars, its neighbors, are Earth and Jupiter. Mars also has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. They are smaller than Earth’s moon.
Phobos is slowly descending upon Mars, and scientists believe that one day it will crash on the Red Planet. Mars is the outermost terrestrial planet, almost 50% farther from the Sun than Earth.
Many missions were sent to Mars, so many that the Red Planet is theoretically populated with robots. Some projects here on Earth, want to colonize the Red Planet, beginning in
- Mars is a small planet, cold, and as far as we know, lifeless. However, it is the most hospitable planet in the Solar System, second only to Earth.
- The first spacecraft to visit Mars was Mariner 4, this happened in
- Mars has ice caps at both poles made up of solid carbon dioxide or dry ice.
- Powerful dust storms and winds blow through the entire planet for months.
- There are high chances that people will one day colonize the Red Planet.
- Though Mars can become our second Earth, one of the biggest issues is gravity. The gravity on Mars can cause bone damage.
For kids facts mars
Facts about Mars
Calling all budding young space cadets! Join us on an out-of-this-world adventure with our fascinating facts about Mars…
Facts about Mars
1) Named after the Roman God of war, Mars is the fourth planet from the sun in our solar system.
2) Mars is also known as the ‘Red Planet’ because, well, it’s red! This signature colour comes from the large amount of a chemical called iron oxide (or rust as you might know it) in its rocks and soil.
3) Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system after Mercury. With a diameter (distance through the middle) of 6, kilometres, it’s roughly half the size of Earth.
4) It can get pretty cold on Mars –– much colder than our own planet, since it’s further away from the sun. At the equator, temperatures can reach 20°C, but at its poles they can plummet to as low as °C. Brr!
5) Mars is home to the highest mountain in our solar system –– a volcano called Olympus Mons. Standing a whopping24 kilometres high, it’s about three times the height of Mount Everest!
Did you know? There are bits of Mars here on Earth! In the past, asteroids hit the Red Planet, sending debris into space. Some of this debris landed on our planet as meteorites.
6) You could jump around three times higher on Mars than you can on Earth. Boing! This is because the planets gravity the force that keeps us on the ground is much weaker.
7) Do you like to look at the moonat night? Well, check this out –– Mars has two moons! One is called Phobos and the other Deimos.
8) A day on Mars is 24 hours and 37 minutes –– only a little bit longer than a day on our own planet. A year on Mars, however, is almost twice as long, lasting Earth days! This is because it takes a lot longer than Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun.
9) Until recently, scientists believed that there was no liquid water on the surface of Mars –– only rocks, soil dust and ice. But News flash! In , they found evidence of a lake under the planet’s south polar ice cap. Exciting stuff!
Did you know that we have a FREE downloadable Mars primary resource? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!
10) Humans have not yet been to Mars, but scientists have sent spacecraft there to help them research this fascinating planet. The first spacecraft to land on Mars were the Viking Landers, which touched down on the surface in .
What did you think of our facts about Mars? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Each time you look up to the sky and see a star you are looking at a sun in another galaxy. If you were on another planet looking back at our solar system, you would see our sun as a star.
It’s believed that every sun has planets orbiting it. Our Milky Way galaxy has more planets than it has stars.
In our solar system we have eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are the inner rocky planets.
Jupiter and Saturn are the outer gas giants. Uranus and Neptune are the outer ice giants.
In recent years, astronomers have designed a new class called the “dwarf planets.” These are smaller worlds, not quite big enough to be considered a standard planet, and include Pluto. Mars is the fourth planet from the sun.
- View on Maps:google.com/maps/space/mars
- Distance from Sun: million mi
- Radius: 2, mi
- Polar Diameter: 6, km
- Orbital Period: x 10^23 kg (% Earth)
- Mass: × 10^23 kg M⊕
- Surface pressure: to 20 °C
- Moons: (2) Phobos, Deimos
- First Recorded: 2nd Millennium BCE by Egyptian astronomers
How did Mars get its name:
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is one of the terrestrial planets. It has a distinctive red color and was therefore associated with battles and war and named after the Roman god of war.
The surface of Mars is a reddish-brown color due to the rusting process of the surface minerals. Another name for Mars is “The Red Planet.” Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system and Mars is the second smallest planet.
Other civilizations throughout history have also named the planet due to its color. The Ancient Egyptians called Mars “Her Desher,” which translates to “the red one.”
Today we often call Mars the “Red Planet” due to the iron minerals on the surface. It’s the iron in the Martian dirt that has oxidized or rusted that causes it to look red.
Around billion years ago our solar system settled into the configuration that we see today.
Mars was formed when the swirling gas and dust coalesced due to gravitational pull and created the fourth plant from the sun.
As we explore other solar systems we see that many of their larger gas giants are those closer to the inner orbits of the sun and our solar system differs as we have terrestrial planets that are closer.
Mars is a terrestrial planet with a central core, rocky mantle, and a solid crust.
Structure and Surface:
The core at Mars’ center is very dense and is between and 1, mi/1, to 2, km in radius.
The core is made up of iron, nickel and sulfur. Surrounding the core is the planet’s rocky mantle which is between , mi/1,, km thick.
Above the rocky mantle is the crust made up of iron, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, and potassium. The crust is between mi/ km deep.
The Mars surface is divided by the hemisphere of the planet and is in two distinct types of features.
Thanks to the Mars Rovers we have been able to see the smooth look of the northern hemisphere and can see that it doesn’t have very many craters.
However, the southern hemisphere is the exact opposite, with a lot more craters as well as highlands. The craters on Mars range in sizes but it also has the biggest known crater in the solar system, called Valles Marineris.
You could stretch the crater from the U.S. West Coast all the way to the East Coast. Mars is also home to the largest known volcano in the solar system called Olympus Mons.
One of the most distinctive features on Mars is its “channels.” These channels look like they could have been made by running water.
Mars actually has many more colors than just the “red” that most people use to describe it. At the surface we see colors such as gold, tan, and brown.
The red color is due to oxidization or rusting of the iron rocks and as it rusts it creates the Martian “soil” which is called regolith.
This soil is dusty and when it is kicked into the atmosphere during storms the planet turns a reddish color.
Mars is only half of Earth’s diameter and its surface has many appearances as the dry land on Earth.
Mars has volcanoes, crust movement, impact craters, and atmospheric conditions such as dust storms that, over the years, has changed the landscape.
Valles Marineris is a large canyon system on Mars whose length is long enough to stretch from New York to California on Earth; with a distance of over 3, mi/4, km.
At its widest point, the canyon is mi/ km and mi/7 km at its deepest. To compare this to Earth, it is nearing ten times the size of the Grand Canyon.
Mars also has the solar system’s largest volcano, Olympus Mons. The volcano is three times taller than Mt. Everest on Earth and has a base that is the size of the state of New Mexico.
Thanks to the incredible Mars rovers, we believe that Mars had water on its surface in the past.
There is evidence of ancient river valley networks, lakebeds, and deltas as well as minerals and rocks on the surface that are only formed when there is liquid water.
Some of the features on the surface of Mars suggest that around billion years ago, the planet experienced huge floods.
Today, any water that is found on Mars is in the form of water-ice just below the surface in the polar regions, as well as salty or briny water which flows down some of the crater walls and hillsides at various times of the year.
The atmosphere on Mars is too thin for liquid water to remain on the surface.
Atmosphere. Magnetosphere, and Moon Status:
The atmosphere of Mars is made up of 95% carbon dioxide, which is very similar to the atmosphere of Venus, which is 97% carbon dioxide. However, the difference between Mars and Venus is the temperature.
The runaway greenhouse effect that Venus experiences makes temperatures incredibly hot, reaching over degrees C.
The temperature on Mars never goes any higher than 20 degrees C. The temperature differences are due to the density of the two atmospheres.
The atmosphere on Mars is very thin while there is a thick atmosphere on Venus.
Scientists have done a lot of research on Mars and they also think that the atmosphere may have caused the loss of any liquid water that was once on the planet.
Orbiting spacecraft has shown that Mars does have frozen water in its polar caps and there is some evidence that indicates that there might be liquid water under Mars’ surface.
Scientists think that at one time in its history, Mars might have had a good enough atmosphere to have water on the surface.
The Mars temperature can reach as high as 70 degrees F/20 degrees C and as low as degrees F/ degrees C.
The atmosphere is so thin that any heat from the sun quickly escapes the planet.
If you were standing on Mars it would appear as a hazy red color. The Mars winds can create incredibly strong dust storms that cover a lot of the planet.
They can be so strong that it can take months before all of the dust settles.Today, Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field.
However, there are areas of the Martian crust in the southern hemisphere that are very highly magnetized.
This indicates that there are traces of what once was a magnetic field around 4 billion years ago.
Mars does have two small moons: Phobos and Deimos. It’s believed that these may have actually been asteroids that were captured.
The moons are shaped like potatoes and have such a small mass that their own gravity can’t make them spherical like our Earth’s moon.
The moons were named for the horses that pulled that chariots for Ares, the Greek god of war. In Ancient Greek, the word “Phobos” translates to “flight,” and “Deimos” translates to “fear.”
Phobos is the largest moon and the one closest to Mars. It’s heavily cratered with many deep surface grooves.
It is moving slowly toward Mars and it’s believed that in about 50 million years it will either break apart or crash into Mars.
Deimos is around half the size of Phobos and its orbit is 2 ½ times farther away. Deimos is strangely shaped and is covered in loose dirt that sometimes fills in the craters on its surface.
It’s due to this odd situation that it often looks smoother than Phobos.Mars doesn’t have any rings, however, it’s thought that in 50 million years, when Phobos either breaks apart or crashes into Mars, it might create a dusty ring around Mars.
Could Life Exist on Mars?
Scientists don’t think that they will ever find living things on Mars as the conditions aren’t good enough for life to thrive. However, they are seeking signs that life might have existed on the planet a long time ago when Mars was warmer and had liquid water covering its surface.
During the 19th century it was popular to think that Mars had life and civilizations populating it. The reason for this belief was mainly caused by an error and some really imaginative people.
Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli looked through a telescope in and saw lines on the surface of Mars that he called “canalis” and that he thought were created by living creatures.
Other people called the lines “canals” and that became the source of stories and science fiction ideas about life on Mars.
These ideas continued until new telescopes were developed that were more powerful and let astronomers see that the lines were really just a natural part of the surface and caused those in the past to have optical illusions.
The atmosphere on Mars is so thin that the heat from the sun quickly escapes. If you were to stand on the surface of Mars on the equator at noon, it would feel like spring at your feet (75 degrees F/24 degrees C and winter at your head 32 degrees F/0 degrees C.
Space Missions to Mars:
Of all of the planets and bodies in our solar system, Mars is the most explored and the only planet that we have sent rovers to travel the landscape and collect samples and data.
NASA, India, and ESA (European Space Agency) have spacecraft orbiting above Mars.
The robotic explorers have found a lot of evidence that at one time, billions of years ago, Mars was warmer and wetter, with a thicker atmosphere.
Recorded observations reach back as far as 4, years when the Ancient Egyptians charted Mars’ movements across the sky.
We have had an international fleet of spacecraft that have orbited and some that have landed on Mars, including the robotic rovers.
Strangely, there have been many attempts at sending robotic spacecraft that have failed, but we are pleased to say that many also succeeded including:
Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Opportunity rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Curiosity rover, Mars Orbiter Mission, MAVEN and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.
NASA’s InSight arrived on November 26, , with communications support from the twin MarCO cubesats, the first CubeSats sent into Deep Space.
- Christiaan Huygens draws the Syrtis Major on Mars as dark markings.
- Giovanni Schiaparelli creates a map of Mars that includes his idea of “canalis”
- Asaph Hall discovers Mars’ two moons: Phobos and Deimos.
- NASA’s Mariner 4 sends the first up close images of Mars in 22 photos.
- Mariner 9 is first spacecraft to orbit Mars and completes the mapping of almost all of the Mars surface.
- Viking 1 and 2 land on the Mars surface.
- Mars Pathfinder lands and sends out Sojourner, the first wheeled rover to explore the surface of Mars.
- Mars Odyssey mission makes Mars observations to locate water ice that may be buried on Mars.
- Twin Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit and Opportunity are dispatched to do scientific experiments, finding evidence that long ago Mars had liquid water on its surface.
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sends back images of Mars that are high-resolution and studies the Mars seasonal changes and water history of Mars.
- Phoenix mission presence of liquid water and good soil chemistry as part of its mission for potential future habitation.
- NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity finds conditions in Gale Crater that indicate they may have once been suitable for microbial life in the past.
Facts about Mars for Kids:
- There have been 40 missions to Mars, but only 18 of the missions were successful.
- The dust storms on Mars are so large that they are considered to be the biggest in the solar system.
- Meteorites that have been ejected from Mars have been found all over the Earth.
- Of all of the planets in the solar system, only Earth has confirmed life and Mars is believed to possibly be hospital for life.
- Earth and Mars are the only to planets in the solar system with polar ice caps.
- Mars does have seasons but they are twice as long as the seasons on Earth due to Mars’ axis tilt.
- If you were standing on Mars and looked at the sun it would appear half the size as compared to looking at the sun from Earth.
It can be easily said that Mars has captured the collective imagination of humans more than any other planet.
In the s, when people first thought that there were canal-like features on the surface of Mars, they thought that these were the proof that intelligent alien species lived on the planet.
These ideas led to more stories, books, movies, and television shows than any other planet. The most notable of the situations was the radio drama of the H.G. Wells book, “The War of the Worlds.”
The broadcast was so realistic that many listeners though that there really was an invasion of Earth by Martians, and went into a panic.
Television has also picked up on the idea of intelligent creatures on Mars with the series “My Favorite Martian.”
Another Mars tale on television and in books was “The Expanse.” Other stories that have taken place on Mars were transitioned to movies such as the “Total Recall” and the remake in
In this version, the ultimate tale involved terraforming Mars and a colony struggling due to lack of air.
The novel that became the movie adaptation in of “The Martian” involved a botanist that was left stranded on Mars and his struggle to survive while he awaits rescue.
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There are so many interesting facts about planet Mars.
Lets learn with facts about Mars for kids!
We went through the solar system facts for kids the other day and now its time to take a closer look at the red planet.
This is a planet I wasnt all that keen on as a kid apparently there were Martians there and from all the horror movies me and my neighbour secretly watched I was positive they were up to no good. I remember checking the nigh sky for a long time just in case Martians would come visit haha.
Lets learn something the red planet shall we?
Planet Mars Facts for Kids
Fun Planet Mars Facts
- It orbits the sun in days.
- A day on Mars is about 39 and a half minutes longer than on Earth.
- It is also called the Red Planet because of the dust in the atmosphere and iron rich soil.
- It was named after a Roman god of war.
- It has the largest dust storms in the entire solar system (they can even cover the whole planet).
- Mars has the second highest mountain in the entire solar system the Olympus Mons.
- It can be seen from the Earth with a naked eye.
- It has an atmosphere.
- It has 2 moons (Phobos and Deimos).
Fun Mars Facts for Kids With Free Printables
Free Printable PDF with Mars Facts
Reading the facts is one thing (and it can be sufficient if your kid is a reading type) but visualising things can be even better. Thats why Ive created this fun printable with all the facts illustrated to help kids learn about them.
Get Printable Fact Sheet Here
Mars facts for kids