Below are some interesting facts about the planet Mars that maybe you’ve forgotten or simply never knew.
While the focus is on mars, we’ve also added some facts about earth, the sun and other areas of our solar system we believe you’ll find interesting to read and can help extend your knowledge base.
The closest planet to the sun is Mercury followed by Venus, Earth, the earths moon then Mars. The earth’s moon is not a planet, so the fourth planet from our sun is Mars. Continuing past Mars is something called Ceres, we say “something” because we’re not sure what to call it since astronomers actually have an ongoing debate on the classification of Ceres and it’s classification has been changed on more than one occasion. Some will tell you Ceres is a dwarf planet while others say it’s nothing more than the largest asteroid in the inner solar system.
Where does Mars get it’s name from?
The planet Mars gets it’s name from Mars, the Roman war god, but it’s also often called the Red Planet, because it has a red appearance which is caused by the iron oxide which is found on the planet’s surface.
Since ancient times and with various cultures, some of the names the planet Mars has been associated with are war, fire, anger, storms, violence, bloodshed, blood, celibacy, rebel and even fertility.
How big is Mars?
The total surface area of Mars is almost 144.8 million square km, which is just a bit over 28% larger than the size of the Earth.
What is it like on Mars?
While Mars is rough, rocky, mountainous, cold and has wild weather which makes it pretty down right uninviting to humans, Mars is also a planet which is similar to Earth in many regards, though it has a thin atmosphere and quite a few impact craters. You can find deserts, polar ice caps, valleys and volcanoes there which when combined don’t offer the friendliest environment.
There are two moons also known as satellites on the orbit of Mars named Deimos and Phobos. Phobos rises in the west and sets in the east every 11 hours while Deimos is much slower.
The best time to view Mars
The best time to view Mars from earth is during the Mars opposition which is when it is directly opposite the sun with earth between them. The Mars opposition occurs about once every 2 years.
More interesting facts about Mars:
- Mars One claims that over 165,000 people from 140 countries wanting to make the red planet their permanent settlement have now applied for a one -way Mars journey. Training begins in 2015 with the 1st colony being established in 2023. Mars One says more colonists and supplies are planned to land every two years. Is this really going to happen? Mars One charges applicants a registration fee.
- The Mars rover Curiosity has a Twitter account… @MarsCuriosity
- In August 2012, a planetary geologist and professor at the University of California (An Yin) made the discovery that Mars does have tectonic plates. It was previously believed that earth was the only planet with plate tectonics and that Mars was too small and too cold below surface to have tectonic plates. Professor Yen has referred to the 2 tectonic plates he discovered as Valles Marineris North and Valles Marineris South.
- Now that we know Mars has plate tectonics, in can be concluded that it also has marsquakes similar to earthquakes on earth which could explain why large boulders have recently moved on mars seen by satellite imagery.
- After traveling approximately 352 kilometers (215 million miles) and more than 8 months at approximately 12,000 miles per hour, Nasa’s $2.5 billion Curiosity Rover landed on Mars on August 5th, 2012 and is expected to be in operation for about 2 earth years at 23 months or one Mars year.
- Matt Heverly is the lead engineer over the team that commands curiosity rover’s movements.
- Curiosity rover has a top speed of about one tenth of a mile per hour or 150 meters per hour.
- Curiosity Rover is equipped with 17 cameras.
- One of the dirty dusty thin looking rocks Curiosity Mars rover ran over actually broke apart. The rock appeared to be a bright white on the inside of the rock. Scientists are calling the rock Tintina as a nickname and it measures roughly 1″ x 1.5″ in size “2.54 – 3.81 centimeters” Tintina is the brightest native object seen so far on Mars.
- As of February 2013, it takes about 19 minutes for a message or signal to travel to or from Mars.
- Mars hosts the largest volcano in our solar system called Olympus Mons which is approximately 22 kilometers “14 miles” high also making it taller than any mountain in the solar system. Almost 3 times the height of Mount Everest.
- Mars hosts the deepest known canyon in our solar system which is named Melas Chasma.
- The approximate diameter of mars is 4,220 miles. For comparison reasons, the approximate diameter of the earth is 7,926 miles.
- A year on Mars is 687 days long. A year on earth is 365.25 days long.
- One full day on Mars is 24 hours 40 minutes long.
- The average temperature on Mars is minus 81 degrees fahrenheit. The average temperature of the earth is 57 degrees fahrenheit.
- The temperature on Mars can reach below 175 degrees below zero.
- The distance varies by the second due to constant movement but the approximate average distance Mars is from the sun is 142 million miles away while the approximate average distance of the earth from the sun is 93 million miles.
- A ship that tries to escape this planet’s gravity needs to have a 5 km/s escape velocity.
- In 1976 the United States landed two probes on Mars named Viking 1 and Viking 2 which sent back the very first color photos from Mars to earth.
- The famous face on Mars picture was taken on 7-25-1976 by the United States probe Viking 1.
- While mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, Mars is the seventh planet as far as size is concerned in our Solar System
- 1965 was the year when the first Mars mission which was successful took place. Mariner 4 was the probe which reached the Red Planet and it sent to Earth a total of 22 photos.
- The first country which managed to land successfully was the USSR which is now The Russian Federation, the probes were named Mars 2 and 3 landed in 1971 and and worked through a portion of 1972. Mars 2 and 3 sent back what was considered a large amount of data at that time which consisted of around 60 pictures or images.
- There are currently a total of three spacecraft which orbit the planet and on the surface there are two probes.
- You can see some wonderful pictures and get additional information about the planet Mars at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/
- This concludes our interesting facts about Mars. Stick around and read another page or two.