5 Fun Facts About the Red Planet

mars 5 facts

Mars has long captivated scientists, explorers and movie makers. Although it shares many characteristics with Earth, there are notable distinctions.

Scientists theorize that Earth was formed along with other rocky planets within an inner part of a giant disk of gas and dust that later flattened out to form our Solar System. Earth features two small moons, Phobos and Deimos, that may have come from captured asteroids.

1. It is the fourth planet from the sun

Mars, commonly referred to as the Red Planet due to its distinctive red hue, is the fourth planet from the sun and often called by that name due to the presence of iron oxide – more commonly known as rust – on its surface. When light reflects off this dust particle it scatters differently, creating its characteristic red hue. Mars also features one of the tallest volcanoes in our solar system: Olympus Mons, three times taller than Mount Everest!

Mars boasts two small and irregularly-shaped moons named Phobos and Deimos, both thought to have formed from captured asteroids, but their exact formation remains unknown. Their names refer to Greek and Roman war gods Ares and Deimos respectively. Martian temperatures range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit at noon near its equator to as low as -284 Fahrenheit near its poles – far cooler than Earth!

Mars has an overall flat surface with only minor mountain ranges; Olympus Mons, a shield volcano of 21km height and 600km across, stands out as an exception. It may have been active for billions of years.

Mars, like Earth, experiences four distinct seasons that last twice as long due to its elliptical orbit and tilted axis that causes it to approach or recede from the Sun at various points during its course.

Mars stands out amongst the solar system with its massive dust storms, which cover its entire surface and last for months – these storms are among the largest. Furthermore, gravity on Mars is only 38% that of Earth – both factors make Mars unique!

2. It is the smallest planet in the solar system

Mars, located four planets from our Sun, features a rugged surface dotted with craters, valleys, polar ice caps and extinct volcanoes. It has a thin atmosphere comprised mostly of carbon dioxide (95%) and argon (2%) that can become cold.

Mars hosts two moons known as Phobos and Deimos which may have been created by asteroids crashing into it, as well as Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in our solar system that towers three times taller than Mount Everest!

Just like Earth, Mars also experiences seasons. Summer lasts the shortest while winter extends beyond it due to the planet’s axis of rotation shifting more frequently than Earth’s and this shifting alters climate significantly over time.

On Mars, one day is slightly longer than on Earth and takes 687 days for Mars to orbit around its Sun (one year in Martian time). An amazing feature of Mars is that you can view stars by night if you look up!

Mars has long held our imagination, inspiring many movies and books including H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds.” Today it continues to enthrall people with its mysteries and intrigue; people remain fascinated with its mysterious landscape of flat plains and ridges that could potentially support life; its low gravity makes it an intriguing prospect; this planet makes an intriguing potential destination. Finding signs of life on Mars drives scientists’ explorations across this red dusty planet.

3. It has two moons

Phobos and Deimos, two small irregular moons orbiting Mars, were named for two Greek characters who accompanied their father Ares into battle; Phobos means fear and panic while Deimos means terror and dread. Both moons are covered with numerous craters that create an uneven surface; first observed by American astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877 but publically displayed by US Mariner 9 spacecraft in 1971. Phobos moves closer before moving further away while Deimos circles Mars from further away.

Phobos is 17 miles across and Deimos only 9 miles wide; both feature rough surfaces similar to potatoes that don’t conform with our classic understanding of moons being round spheres. Heavy cratering on both moons suggests they have experienced repeated collisions and fragmentation, with several theories about their formation being put forth, including one suggesting they originated as asteroids captured by Mars from nearby asteroid belts. Their orbits, however, do not support that notion; rather they seem to travel on circular paths directly above Mars’ equator, suggesting they were formed as debris from an impact with Mars in its early days.

Mars’ moons are composed of carbonaceous chondrite rock similar to asteroids found on Earth; their spectra are distinct from chondrite meteorites indicating another possible origin for them.

4. It has a polar ice cap

Astronomers have discovered an enormous dome of ice and dust at Mars’ south pole, offering insight into its climate history as well as any chance that life once flourished on this distant planet.

Mars’ atmosphere regularly condenses at its north and south poles during winter to form polar ice caps containing both carbon dioxide and water ice. Every spring, these caps gradually melt back into space after their melting occurs through sublimation back into atmosphere – though its southern pole counterpart may differ significantly with some areas appearing disproportionately larger than others.

Scientists have long tried to understand why caps don’t appear symmetrical. Recent findings may help shed some light on why this might be, and whether the cap might change over time.

The team conducted extensive studies of the Polar Cap using observations from Mars Express mission, such as laser-altimeter measurements of surface features. Their research concluded that it consists of 85% highly reflective carbon dioxide ice and 15% water ice; covered by layers of sand and gravel which vary in their ability to reflect solar radiation; therefore limiting how reflective its surfaces would otherwise be.

Sand and gravel also help prevent the polar cap from melting as quickly as it would otherwise, as their high thermal capacity allows more heat to be absorbed by them than would otherwise. This causes it to appear thicker than it actually is and gives it an older appearance than it really has been. Sand and gravel also form channels called spiders in the ice cap caused by carbon dioxide gas escaping and creating an “explosion-like” effect when reaching sunlight, similar to when its tail reached earth from space.

5. It has a vast surface area

Mars, named for the Roman god of war, is the fourth planet from our solar system and known as “The Red Planet” due to the abundance of iron oxide — commonly referred to as rust — present in its soil and rocks, giving off reddish hues when sunlight hits these minerals and scatters with them.

Mars boasts mountains, valleys, volcanoes and other geological formations that hint at water’s past presence; unlike Earth however, Mars does not appear to experience active plate tectonics. Instead, mountains appear to have formed over time through thermal expansion or erosion processes.

Mars hosts two small moons known as Phobos and Deimos that may have formed from captured asteroids; these moons can only be seen with naked eyes.

Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars is an integral feature of its landscape, stretching for 200 miles at its widest point and dropping as deep as 4.3 miles (7 kilometers). This vast system ten times wider than Earth’s Grand Canyon is considered an iconic feature.

Olympus Mons is also home to one of the solar system’s largest volcanos – Olympus Mons. At nearly three times higher than Mount Everest and covering an area as large as New Mexico state itself, this massive mountain stands as the biggest feature on Olympus.

Mars boasts flat regions like its polar ice caps that scientists believe were once filled with liquid water, providing evidence of former habitability on this planet. Furthermore, an intriguing feature of Mars is that it experiences seasons just like Earth due to an tilted axis causing distance fluctuations with respect to Sun.

Scroll to Top