At a glance…

Planet Mars Fact & Information

Information provided by Disabled World– Published: 2009-01-21

Interesting facts, discoveries, and information on the planet Mars and  how the red planet differs from Earth. Hopefully some of this information will  of interest to students doing assignments and homework.

Mars Facts and  Figures

Interesting facts, discoveries, and information on the planet Mars and how the red planet differs from Earth. Hopefully some of this information will of interest to students doing assignments and homework.

How did Mars get its name?
Mars, also known as the red planet, is the fourth planet from the sun named in ancient roman times in honor of “Mars” their god of war. The ancient Egyptians named Mars Her Descher which means the Red One.

What are the names of the 2 Mars rover vehicles?
Spirit and Opportunity. More than 11,000 images and 9.1 gigabytes of information have been returned by these two Mars rovers.

Can the Mars rovers be seen with a telescope?
No. The smallest objects on Mars that can be seen from Earth are kilometers across.

What type of telescope is best to see Mars?
Mars can be best viewed with a telescope between 100 –  200 power magnification which will make it appear in the telescope about the size of a small marble. You will be able to see the Maria or the light and dark areas and the Mars polar ice cap at these magnifications. Orange and red color filters will help see the Maria and a blue filter will make the polar ice caps  more visible.

What was the name of the FIRST rover that went to Mars?
Sojourner, in honor of Sojourner Truth an  African-American reformist who lived during the Civil War era. The name Sojourner was chosen for the Mars Pathfinder rover after a worldwide competition in which students were invited to select a heroine and submit an essay about her accomplishments. The name Sojourner also means means “traveler”.

Does Mars have rings?
No. The only planets in our solar system with rings are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The rings of Saturn are the most spectacular, first known, and most recognizable.

Is there life on  Mars?
See our section on arguments for and against the chances of discovering life forms on Mars

Can you see Mars without a telescope?
Yes, to the naked eye, Mars appears a distinct yellow, orange, or reddish color, and varies in brightness over the course of its orbit.  When farthest away from the Earth it can be lost in the Sun’s glare for months at a time. At its most favourable times when Mars is closest to Earth, which occurs twice every 32 years, alternately at 15 and 17-year intervals Mars shows a wealth of surface detail to a telescope. Especially noticeable, even at low magnification, are the Mars polar ice caps.

How many moons does Mars have?
Mars has two moons which are small and irregularly shaped.

What are the names of Mars 2 moons?
Phobos and Deimos. Both moons orbit very close to the planet and are thought to be captured asteroids. Phobos and Deimos, are named after the two Hell Dogs that pull the Roman god Mar’s war chariot.

How does Mars compare in size to other planets?
Mars is the seventh largest planet in our Solar System.

How many planets from the sun is Mars?
Mars is the fourth planet from our Sun.

To see Mars at night, what direction should I look?
This depends on exactly what latitude you live at, but assuming you’re in North America or Europe, Mars is rising  currently around 11 p.m. By December 1, it will be rising before 7:30 p.m. It’s  the brightest object in the east until Venus rises. You can differentiate Mars  from the stars by its brightness and its steady light (no twinkling), and its  distinct orange-peach color. Mars will slowly recede from the earth in January 2008, but it does not completely disappear from the night sky.

What was the name of the first spacecraft to visit Mars?
The first spacecraft to visit Mars was  Mariner 4 in 1965. There are currently 4 Mars orbiters (Mars Reconnaissance  Orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Express) in orbit around  Mars. See our timeline of Mars  Missions.

Which space mission made the first landing on Mars?
The first space mission to make a landing on Mars was the Viking mission sent up by the United States of America. The Viking probe made a successful landing on Mars on 20 July, 1976.

Does Mars have seasons like Earth?
Mars has seasons like the Earth, though on Mars they are about  twice as long given its longer year. Mars’ seasons are the most Earth-like, due to the similar tilts of the two planets’ rotational axes. However, the lengths of the Martian seasons are about twice those of Earth’s because Mars is a  greater distance from the sun.

In what ways is Mars similar to Earth?
Like Earth, Mars has a solid surface. Mars has an atmosphere.  Its day length is also close to that of Earth, 24 hours and 37 minutes. Mars has  frozen water on its surface, at the polar ice caps. Mars temperature range is  fairly moderate, going from -116 to 32 degrees F. No other planet comes as close  as Mars to having conditions suitable for humans.

Will we ever colonize Mars?
No doubt sometime in the distant future we will establish a base on Mars.

Answers on the  Atmosphere of Mars

What does the atmosphere on Mars consist of?
The atmosphere of Mars is composed mainly of carbon dioxide with small amounts of various other gases. Martian air only contains one thousandth as much water (H2O) as the air on earth, however even this small amount can form clouds, frost and fog on the planet. The most common components of the Martian atmosphere are:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): 95.32% Nitrogen (N2): 2.7% Argon (Ar): 1.6%   Oxygen (O2): 0.13% Water (H2O): 0.03% Neon (Ne): 0.00025%

Carbon Dioxide, which makes up 99% of the air on Mars, turns to solid, or “dry ice”, when it freezes at 148? Kelvin (-193 ?F).

What is the barometric pressure on Mars?
Barometric pressure varies on the surface with location and seasons but seems to range from 6.8 millibars to 10.8 millibars. Barometric pressure on Earth is around 1000 millibars.

How does the barometric pressure on Mars compare with other planets?
All planets except Mercury and  probably Pluto have an atmosphere. Here are the Atmospheric Pressures or  barometric pressures for all our planets measured in units of 1 bar (which is  roughly equal to the air pressure at the surface of the Earth)

  • Mercury = 0
  • Venus = 92
  • Earth = 1
  • Mars = 0.007
  • Jupiter = 100
  • Saturn = 100
  • Uranus = 100
  • Neptune = 100
  • Pluto = 0.00001

What is the wind speed on Mars?
Some days it is very windy, and other days it is calm. The wind speed on Mars at the two Viking landing sites was less than 17 kilometers per hour (or about 11mph).  Much higher speed winds are believed  to cause the Martian dust storms.

Are there clouds in the Mars atmosphere?
Clouds on Mars are rare compared with clouds on the  Earth. Most clouds on Mars are clouds of water ice, although some are probably made of frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice). Sometimes, the clouds on Mars are close to the ground, or can even touch the ground and become fog just like on  Earth.

Why is Mars’ atmosphere so very thin today?
Mars has a lot less gravity than Earth. Its atmosphere  slowly leaks away into outer space and now that all Mars volcanoes are extinct, there is no new source of gas to re-supply the atmosphere.

Geographic  information on Mars

What is “Tharsis”?  
Tharis is a huge bulge on the Martian surface measuring around 4000 km across and 10 km high.

What is the “Valles Marineris”?
This is the name for a system of canyons on Mars that are about 4000 km long and from 2 to 7 km deep.

What is the “Hellas Planitia”?
Hellas Planitia is an impact crater in the southern hemisphere of Maqrs which is over 6 km deep and 2000 km in diameter.

What is the highest known mountain in our solar system?
Olympus Mons, located on Mars is the  name of the highest known mountain in the solar system. Olympus Mons stands 27  kilometres (16.7 miles or approx. 88,580 ft) high above the mean surface level  of Mars.

What is the face on Mars?
The face on Mars is a rock formation on the surface of Mars  that was first spotted in a photograph taken by the Viking Orbiter 1 probe in  1976. Some people once claimed that the rock structure had been constructed  artificially, and had been left by an advanced race of extra terrestrials.

Does Mars have polar ice caps?
Mars has two permanent polar ice caps, the north one at Planum  Boreum and the south one at Planum Australe.

Which polar cap is larger on Mars?
Both polar caps include a permanent cap visible year-round, and  a seasonal cap that appears in winter and disappears in summer. In the north,  the permanent cap is water ice, while in the south the permanent cap is mostly  carbon dioxide ice with perhaps some water. The north’s permanent cap is 10  times larger than the south. The south’s seasonal cap is larger than the  north’s, which is caused by the fact that the southern winter takes place when  Mars is farthest in its orbit from the Sun.

What is the place on Mars called the biggest hole in the ground?
Hellas Basin – Measuring 6 km deep  and 2000 km across, Hellas Basin was formed more than 3 billion years ago when a large asteroid hit Mars. Hellas Planitia, also known as the Hellas Impact  Basin.

How big and deep is the largest  canyon on Mars?
The largest canyon, Valles Marineris has a length of 4000 km and extends across one-fifth the circumference of Mars. Valles Marineris  has a depth of up to 7 km!

What are the spheres discovered  in the soil and rock of Mars?
Opportunity rover has photographed  spheres, or spherules as they are now known, on the sandy soil at its landing site and embedded in rocks at a nearby ledge. The spherules might have formed in  the presence of water, but they could also be the result of a volcanic eruption or meteor impact.

Why are there dust storms on Mars?
In the winter on Mars, some of the atmosphere condenses onto a polar ice cap. The resulting low pressure over the pole causes a strong wind as  air moves from the other pole (summer heat is causing that ice cap to  evaporate). These winds move from one polar cap to the other causing the Martian  dust storms.

Are there volcanoes on Mars?
Yes, but they are all extinct.

Does Mars have tectonic plates?
Mars doesn?t have tectonic plates as far as we know. Since  Mars is much smaller than Earth, the amount of heat in the core is less. This  limits tectonism. As a result, we do not see the plate tectonics like Earth. The  surface of Mars is just one large plate.

How do we know Mars volcanoes are all extinct?
We can tell that all the volcanoes of Mars are  extinct because all of them have impact craters on them. If there had been recently volcanic activity some of them would not have impact craters on  them.

How old are the volcanoes on Mars?
The volcanoes on Mars are very old, around 3 to 3.5 billion  years. Volcanoes in the highland paterae and mare-like plains on Mars were  active until about 3 billion years ago, but some of the smaller shields and  cones erupted 2 billion years ago.

Sizes, Distance and  Measurements information on Mars

What is the circumference of Mars?
21,343km or around 13,300 miles

What is the diameter of Mars?
6 791 or around 4,220 miles.

What is the mass of Mars?
The mass of Mars is 641,850,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg  (6.4219×10^23 kg)

What is the escape velocity of Mars?
The escape velocity of Mars is only 5.03 kilometers per second as compared with Earth’s 11.2 kps. It requires much less energy to put an object  in orbit from the surface of Mars than it does from Earth.

What is the temperature on Mars?
The mean or average temperature on Mars is minus 63? C (minus  81? F) with a maximum temperature of 20? C (68? F) and a minimum of minus 140? C  (minus 220? F).

What is the Mars’s orbital eccentricity?
Mars’s orbital eccentricity is 0.0935.

What is the Mars’s rotational inclination?
Mars’s rotational inclination (how much it is tilted on  its axis) is 25.19?.

What is the rate of gravitational acceleration on Mars?
Mars: 3.73 m/s^2

How much would I weigh on Mars?
If you weigh 100 pounds on earth you would only weigh 38 pounds on Mars. Martian gravity is just 38% that of Earth.

How long does it take to get to Mars?
At present space craft speeds it would take approx. 9 months to reach the planet Mars when it is at its closest point to Earth. (This occurs  once every two years.)

How long is a Martian day?
A day on Mars is only slightly longer than an Earth day: 24  hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds.

How much cosmic radiation does Mars receive?
Mars is exposed to an influx of cosmic radiation that  is 100 times more intense than that on Earth.

How much light is there on Mars?
Mars is roughly 1.5 times as far away from the Sun as the Earth is. The amount of light reaching an object declines as the square of its distance from the sun. 1.5 X 1.5 = 2.25. So Mars gets 2.25 times less light than  the Earth does, or about 44% as much as the Earth.

What is the size of Mars compared with Earth?
Mars has half the radius of Earth and only  one-tenth the mass, being less dense, but its surface area is only slightly less than the total area of Earth’s dry land.

How far is Mars from the sun?
Mars average distance from the Sun is roughly 230 million km. At its closest point in orbit of the sun Mars is approx 206,600,000 km  (128,400,000 miles) away. At its furthest point in orbit Mars is approx  249,200,000 km (154,900,000 miles) from the sun. The Sun appears about half the size on Mars as it does from Earth.

How far is Mars from Earth?
The distance between the 2 planets varies due to different orbits of the sun. When both Earth and Mars are on the same side of our Sun, they can approach to within 55 million kilometers or 34 million miles of each other. When Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, Mars can be up to 399 million kilometers or 248 million miles away from Earth.

How long is a Martian year?
A Martian year is approximately two Earth years in length, meaning it takes twice as long for Mars to orbit the sun as it takes Earth. A Mars year = 687 Earth days.

What is the atmospheric pressure on Mars?
The average pressure on the surface of Mars is 7 millibars  (less than 1% of Earth’s)

How long does it take radio signals to travel from Mars to the Earth?
Radio signals travel at the speed of light. The maximum distance from Earth to Mars is 401,355,980 km and the minimum distance is 54,510,620 km. Dividing these distances by the speed of  light in space at 2.997 x 10^5 km/s we get the maximum time for a radio signal from Earth to reach Mars to be 22.29 minutes and the minimum time would equal 3.03 minutes.

The Surface of  Mars

What is the soil on Mars made of?
The Martian soil is mostly basaltic rock with a superficial coating of iron oxide making the planet red in colour.

Are there caves on Mars?
A satellite orbiting Mars recently spotted seven dark spots near the planet’s equator that scientists think could be entrances to  underground caves.

Does Mars have a crust, mantle, and core like Earth?
The most likely scenario is a dense core about 3,400 km in diameter, a molten rocky mantle somewhat denser than the Earth’s and a crust up to 70 km thick in the southern highlands. The assumption is that the  core of Mars is made of iron, but we don’t know for sure as yet.

Is there water on Mars?
The Mars polar caps are covered in ice and snow during the Martian winter and the snow evaporates in spring in both the north and south hemisphere. There is evidence that water may have once flowed on the red planet due to geographical features resembling shore-lines, gorges and dry riverbeds  observed from unmanned missions. Liquid water currently cannot exist on the surface of Mars with its present low atmospheric pressure, except at the lowest elevations for short periods. In March 2007, NASA announced that the volume of  ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the  entire planetary surface of Mars to a depth of 11 metres. Large quantities of water are thought to be trapped underneath Mars’ thick cryosphere, only released  when the crust is cracked through volcanic action.

What evidence is there that liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars?
Dry river channels and what appears to be flood lines (high water marks) on the Martian surface suggest that liquid water once existed there.

Are there canals on Mars that contain water?
We now know that their is no water in the Martian canals, though water could exist beneath them.

What gives Mars its red color?
The redish – orange appearance of the Martian surface is caused by iron oxide, more commonly known as hematite, or rust that has the consistency of talcum powder.

Citation: Disabled World News (2009-01-21) – Mars is the fourth planet from the sun in our solar system more information on the planet mars its two moons and space flights: Mars


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