Mars Planet Questions

Scientists have long studied Mars with an aim of discovering past or present life there, as well as trying to assess how such life might have formed there. Life requires complex chemistry, liquid water bodies and photosynthesising energy sources in order to form.

1. How long does it take to get to Mars?

Mars lies approximately 140 million miles (225 million kilometres) away from Earth, which represents an immense distance that would take months or years for spacecraft traveling at different speeds to cover.

As both planets orbit the Sun elliptically, their distance varies over time – meaning at certain points in its orbit Mars could come closer than at other times.

Although Mars may appear far away, humans still face many hurdles on their journey there. One difficulty will be maintaining life there due to low levels of oxygen; additionally, traveling at less than 1G gravity for such a prolonged period could have serious repercussions for human bodies.

2. How many moons does Mars have?

Mars has two moons: Phobos (fear or panic) and Deimos (terror or dread). First discovered by American astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877, these strangely-shaped satellites may have captured asteroids. With many impact craters covering them and irregular shapes making them look more like asteroids than traditional moons.

Phobos is closest to Mars and completes one orbit every 7.6 hours; Deimos orbits farther out and takes 66 hours for its orbit to complete. Due to this difference in orbit durations, Phobos and Deimos remain locked into each other such that one side always faces away from Mars – similar to how our Moon always faces us. Both moons are made from materials similar to asteroids like carbon rock and ice; plus both are much smaller than our Moon!

3. How many Earth years does it take for Mars to orbit the Sun?

Mars follows an elliptical orbit around the Sun, meaning its path can sometimes move closer (at its perihelion) and farther away (its aphelion). This can result in some strange effects for its inhabitants – including global dust storms that block sunlight from reaching solar-powered spacecraft.

Mars takes 687 days to orbit the Sun, which is less than two Earth years. Due to Mars having much longer days than Earth, rotation takes much longer and seasonal changes take even longer to occur. Because of this, scientists utilize an MSD tracking system as a way of keeping tabs on time – similar to how Julian dates work here on Earth.

4. What is the largest volcano in the solar system?

Olympus Mons, located on Mars’ Tharsis Montes region and first identified by astronomers using images captured by Mariner 9 spacecraft in 1971, is considered to be the largest volcano in our solar system.

This volcano measures 374 miles across and stands 16 miles tall; however, it has been dormant for millions of years with no eruption occurring yet.

Scientists theorize that Olympus Mons is so large because it resides on an enormous hotspot, meaning there is a constant flow of magma beneath its surface allowing the volcano to expand and grow over time. Furthermore, Mars’ absence of plate tectonics allows it to continue expanding freely without being restricted by crustal movement – another reason for its longer lava flows than those found here on Earth.

5. What is the color of the sky on Mars?

Mars skies depend on the size and direction of dust particles, with light scattered by these particles being subjected to Mie scattering; this process absorbs blue light while reflecting red light resulting in blue skies nearer to the Sun and red ones further out.

Combine that with Mars’ iron oxide atmosphere and you get butterscotch tan sky color seen by Viking 1 and Pathfinder when they looked out their respective telescopes at Mars skies. When sunlight passes through more atmosphere on its way towards horizon, more blue light gets scattered and filtered out leaving red hues for a colorful sunset display.

6. What is Mars made of?

Although no liquid bodies of water exist on Mars today, evidence exists to show it once had an abundance of it. Geological features on Mars point towards rivers once flowing on its surface long ago and spacecraft have detected chemicals which are consistent with hydrous minerals such as silicates, sulfates and carbonates that indicate its presence on its surface.

On Mars there are two large polar ice caps containing large quantities of water ice, thought to be composed either of water ice or carbon dioxide ice (dry ice). While the north polar cap likely contains mostly water ice (which it likely originally was), while its counterpart on the south contains both types of ice; additionally the former also has a huge basin which indicates it once contained water as lake.

7. How much water is there on Mars?

Mars once had oceans covering it; however, due to low atmospheric pressure it no longer supports liquid water on its surface.

Valley networks and outflow channels on Mars’ surface indicate that water once flowed across its surface. Unfortunately, it is hard to know how much water would have been required to create such features and fill a global ocean some 4.5 billion years ago.

One theory suggests that Mars’ cryosphere, the layer of permanently frozen ground that covers its entire surface, may have been thicker during its Noachian period (between 3.7 billion to 4 billion years ago) and could have preserved more water. Scientists are currently searching for water ice on Mars using satellites and probes; they’re also keeping an eye out for signs of life or any evidence thereof.

8. What is the atmosphere on Mars?

Mars’ atmosphere is approximately one hundred times thinner than our own and predominantly composed of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon gases, giving its surface a red tint.

Scientists speculate that early Mars had a thicker atmosphere that made the planet warmer and wetter, evidenced by polar caps and other features on its surface.

The Martian polar caps are composed of water ice and carbon dioxide, shifting in size with each season change and impacting on its atmosphere as a whole. Although ocean currents dictate weather patterns on Earth, Hadley cells in Martian weather patterns dictate weather dynamics instead – these air masses rise around the equator, cool off as they travel north, then return southward before rising and heading back toward it once more.

9. What is the temperature on Mars?

Most people mistake Mars as being hot due to its red hue; however, in reality its climate is much colder due to being so far from the Sun with very limited atmosphere – its average temperature being -63 degrees Celsius.

Mars’ polar caps aren’t composed of water ice; rather they’re comprised of frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice). These caps melt and sublimate during summer months before returning back into an icy state come wintertime.

Scientists theorize that Mars used to be much warmer and wetter in its past; evidence of this can be seen through erosion features created by flowing water. Unfortunately, however, this does not hold water; Mars would require a thick greenhouse atmosphere with lower solar radiation than now in order to remain warm enough to support life on this planet.

10. What is the name of the largest volcano on Mars?

Olympus Mons, located on Mars and spanning an area of 300,000 square miles, stands 22km tall or 71,000 ft high and features gently sloping slopes as it rises 22km above its surroundings.

Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons, and Ascraeus Mons are three large shield volcanoes on Mars located in the Tharsis Montes region that are 10 to 100 times larger than any similar structures here on Earth. Their lava flows may also be longer due to reduced surface gravity and higher eruption rates.

Tamu, located in the northern region of Tharsis Montes, is another smaller shield volcano of similar size to Mt. Saint Helens and composed of six collapsed craters that form an undulating depression at its base.

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