Mars is a dynamic planet that undergoes well-defined seasons, similar to those on Earth.
The first accurate telescopic observations of the disk of the planet were made by the Italian astronomer Galileo in 1610.
It wasn’t until robotic spacecraft began observing Mars in the 1960s that scientists began to learn more about it.
What is Mars?
Mars is the fourth planet in our solar system and is occasionally visible as a reddish object in the night sky. It’s a small, rocky world that is about half the size of Earth.
In the past, Mars probably had surface water, as evidenced by dry river beds, canyons and other geological features. But today it is too cold for liquid water to exist on the Martian surface.
The planet spins on its axis once every 24 hours 37 minutes and the axis is tilted in relation to its orbital plane, which gives rise to seasons on Mars. Northern summers on Mars are shorter and warmer than southern ones.
Where is Mars?
Mars is one of the brightest objects in the sky and can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. The planet shines a reddish hue against the stars when it is closest to the Sun.
The Red Planet is a cold desert world with a thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon. It has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes and canyons.
Scientists think that billions of years ago, water flowed on Mars like it does on Earth. However, the Martian atmosphere is now so thin that water no longer exists in liquid form.
As a result, Mars is a cold and lifeless world with very little evidence of life. But scientists continue to study the planet and look for clues that may point to ancient floods, rivers, lakes or even oceans. With more spacecraft and observations, we may someday learn what Mars was like hundreds or thousands of years ago.
What is Mars like?
Mars is a very cold planet with average temperatures of minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (about -73 degrees Celsius). Its surface is covered in red dust, which is often blown into large dust storms.
Like Earth, Mars has seasons and weather patterns that change from time to time. These are caused by the way that the planet rotates around the Sun.
In the southern hemisphere, Mars has long winters, and in the northern hemisphere, it has short summers. This is because Mars’s elliptical orbit around the sun gives it more extreme seasonal changes than Earth’s.
Water is found on Mars, but it can’t exist for long on the surface due to its cold temperatures and thin atmosphere. The only water on Mars that seems to be stable is carbon dioxide snow, which falls in the polar regions.
What is Mars’s climate like?
The atmosphere of Mars is primarily carbon dioxide, with trace amounts of nitrogen and argon. It also contains traces of water, methane, oxygen and other gases.
The Martian climate is influenced by its tilt and orbit, which can affect temperature and sunlight on the planet’s surface. Ice deposits on the surface of Mars have been correlated with these factors to better understand its climate.
Earth’s seasons are very similar to Mars’s, but on Mars the length of each season varies more because of the Red Planet’s eccentric orbit.
Winter on Mars is much colder than Earth’s, with temperatures as low as minus 195 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 125 degrees Celsius) at the south polar regions. Snow, ice and frost are common at those polar locations, as are regrowth of the planet’s polar caps.
What is Mars’s atmosphere like?
Mars’s atmosphere is thinner than Earth’s and consists mostly of carbon dioxide. It also contains small amounts of nitrogen, argon, and oxygen as well as water vapor.
The surface pressure on Mars is less than one percent of the pressure on Earth. This is because the planet has lost its magnetic field, allowing it to be more susceptible to the solar wind – a stream of energetic charged particles flowing from the Sun.
The equatorial atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide, 2.59% nitrogen, 1.94% argon, 0.161% oxygen and 0.058% carbon monoxide. There are also trace levels of molecular oxygen, nitric oxide and ozone.
What is Mars’s geology like?
Mars is a complex planet with a long geologic history. In its early years, it was hit by intense meteorite bombardment that formed impact basins and craters and preserved a record of the atmosphere and a simple hydrologic system.
Cratering was followed by a period of internal differentiation when the crust, which was largely solid during that time, gradually became less dense as a result of outgassing of volatiles from the inner parts of the planet. This period of geologic change also probably led to the development of an atmosphere that was thinner than that of Venus but still rich in carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and traces of oxygen.
A well-developed hydrologic cycle does not exist at present on Mars, but a number of different types of water have been observed. These include groundwater seepage, dune fields, and channels cut across the surface. Some of these features are very old and probably formed 3.5 to 4.5 billion years ago, during the heavy bombardment period.
What is Mars’s surface like?
Mars is a rocky planet with a hard, dry surface and a reddish colour that’s caused by the iron in rocks and dust of its crust oxidising (like Earth). The Red Planet gets its name from this.
It has highlands and broken hills in the southern hemisphere, similar to Earth, while plains dominate the northern one. It also has polar ice caps that change with the seasons, made mostly of carbon dioxide ice.
The planet has a very thin atmosphere, made up of 95% carbon dioxide and 2.7% nitrogen. It exerts less than 1% of the pressure that Earth’s atmosphere exerts at the ground.
There’s evidence that liquid water once existed on Mars, in the form of canyons, lakes and river networks. However, as the thin atmosphere limits its ability to retain liquid water, it’s unlikely that such features still exist.
What is Mars’s history like?
Mars, like the other planets in our Solar System, formed from a nebula of dust and gas around the early Sun. The nebula grew larger over time, and gravity pulled these materials together into planets.
It took 4.5 billion years for the planets to form. It’s believed that Mars formed when a class of meteorites condensed out of the early nebula and gathered in orbit around the Sun.
Today, robotic spacecraft are exploring Mars from above, discovering its seasons, polar ice caps and volcanoes. Some of the rovers, called Spirit and Opportunity, found evidence that liquid water once flowed on Mars.
However, the thin atmosphere on Mars prevents it from having any liquid water for very long. It also means that the water would evaporate into thin clouds before it could reach the surface, leaving behind traces of it in cracks and pores in underground rock.
What is Mars’s future like?
Mars is a planet with similar properties to Earth, but it also has some unique differences. It is a harsh and inhospitable place, with a low gravity, a cold climate and an air that contains mainly carbon dioxide.
This makes it challenging for humans to colonise the Red Planet. To do so, a number of advances need to be made in space science and technology.
One of the biggest challenges is developing a space suit that will allow astronauts to survive long periods of time in low-gravity conditions on Mars. This is especially difficult as Mars has a lot of radiation, which can damage the human body in the long term.
NASA and the European Space Agency are planning sample-return missions, which will send robotic spacecraft to Mars and return soil and rock samples back to Earth for analysis. These missions could pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.