Mars, also known as the Red Planet, has captivated the human imagination for centuries. With its unique features and proximity to Earth, it has become a subject of fascination for astronomers, space enthusiasts, and science fiction writers alike. In this article, we’ll be counting down the top 10 facts about Mars.
Lower Gravity than Earth
Mars has a much lower gravity compared to Earth. Its gravity is around 60% weaker than Earth’s gravity, which means that someone weighing 100 kilos here would weigh around 40 kilos on Mars. The reason why Mars has lower gravity is that it has less mass and energy than Earth.
Similar Daily Cycle to Earth
All planets in our solar system have unique daily cycles. However, Mars’s days are quite similar to the days on Earth. Mars has just under 24 hours and 40 minutes in a day. A Martian day is called a “sol,” and this is used to count the days on Mars for the missions done on the surface.
Fourth Planet from the Sun
Mars is the fourth planet away from the Sun, at an average distance of 140.6 million miles or 227 billion kilometres. It is the second-smallest planet in our solar system, named after the Roman god of war. Mars is often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance. It is a terrestrial planet with an atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide.
Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, named after the two sons of the God of War, Ares, in Greek mythology. The two moons were discovered six days apart from each other in August 1877. These two moons are considerably small compared to the Earth’s moon, with Phobos measuring around 30 miles or 22 kilometres across, and Deimos coming in around seven miles or 12 kilometres across. Relative to our moon, Mars’s moons are 1/1200th the size of ours. However, Deimos is 20 times closer to Mars than our moon is to Earth, which makes it look bigger in the sky.
Mars has four different seasons, just like Earth, but the temperatures are nothing alike. The average temperature on Mars is estimated to be around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit or minus sixty-two degrees Celsius. The coldest days in winter can reach up to minus 195 degrees Fahrenheit or minus two hundred and five degrees Celsius, while in the summer, it can reach up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius.
Largest Volcano and Canyon
Mars currently holds two records. The largest volcano, Olympus Mons, is three times taller than the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest. Olympus Mons is believed to have gotten this tall due to the larger eruptions of the volcano and the low gravity of Mars. Valles Marineris is one of the largest canyons in the solar system. It is up to nine times longer than the Grand Canyon, which is 277 miles or 446 kilometres long. While comparing depth, Valles Marineris can be six times deeper than the Grand Canyon in certain parts.
Two Moons May Become One
As mentioned earlier, Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. However, this may drop down to one as Phobos is orbiting a bit too closely to Mars. It orbits Mars three times daily. NASA scientists have calculated that every 100 years, Phobos gets 1.8 meters closer to Mars, which means that in around 50 million years or so, Phobos will either dissolve into a ring or crash into Mars.
Curiosity is a car-sized robot Rover exploring the Gale crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, also known as MSL. As of June 21st, 2016, Curiosity has been on Mars for 1378 sols, or 1415 total days since landing on August 6th, 2012. Its main goal is to study Mars to see if it could have ever supported life as well as determine the role of water. Additionally, the rover will study the climate and geology of Mars while also helping prepare for human exploration. With all of its goals and objectives in mind, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the rover having a hefty price tag. The price of the Curiosity rover is $2.5 billion.
Land surface area
Even though Earth is nearly double Mars’ size, they have around the same amount of land. This is because most of Earth is covered in water instead of land, while pretty much all of Mars is covered in land (excluding the ice caps on the northern and southern poles of the planet). The ice on Mars is different from the ice on Earth because most of Mars’s atmosphere is covered in carbon dioxide.
There are many different organizations and companies that are interested in Mars. Some of these organizations include NASA, the European Space Agency, Mars One, and SpaceX. Most of these organizations have a goal to make humans colonize Mars within the next few decades. SpaceX and Mars One want a man on Mars by the end of the next decade, and NASA wants to land a man on Mars by the mid-2030s.
Mars has many interesting facts that make it an intriguing planet to explore. With its lower gravity, similar daily cycles, unique appearance, two moons, four seasons, large volcanoes and canyons, and potential for human colonization, Mars will continue to capture our attention and imagination for years to come so why not leave a comment below and tell us which facts you liked the most or simply didn’t know about.