Mars is a planet that orbits the sun and is in our solar system. It is a terrestrial planet that has a rocky surface and a reddish colour.
It has volcanoes, canyons, and polar ice caps. The reddish color is caused by the oxidised iron minerals that are found in its regolith (surface material).
1. It’s the 4th planet from the sun
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and the second-smallest planet in our solar system. It is named for the Roman god of war and is sometimes called the red planet.
Despite its cold, lifeless appearance, Mars has a lot of things to see. It has many craters and even two moons that orbit it, Phobos and Deimos.
The craters formed as the surface of the planet was shaped by volcanoes, impacts, winds, crustal movements and chemical reactions. This means that the planet has a very unique geologic character that is very different from other planets.
Another interesting thing about mars is that it has many dendritic valleys on its surface. These valleys were formed 3.5 to 4.5 billion years ago, when the planet was subjected to large amounts of bombardment.
These valleys have been filled with water, which indicates that there may have been a large ocean on mars at some point in its history. However, this was probably wiped out by the heavy bombardment. Now, Mars has a thin atmosphere that prevents liquid water from forming on the surface.
2. It’s a terrestrial planet
The planet Mars is a terrestrial planet, meaning that it has a solid structure similar to Earth. It has a liquid heavy metal core and at least one moon, as well as topological features like valleys, volcanoes, and craters.
It also has two small satellites, named Deimos and Phobos. These are rocky objects that are drawn into Mars’ gravity and make revolutions around the planet in about 7 hours.
In ancient times, the Red Planet had a thicker atmosphere and was likely warmer and wetter than today. But it eventually lost most of its atmosphere and dried up.
Despite its thin atmosphere, scientists believe that water once existed on the surface of Mars. There are many landforms that suggest liquid water once covered most of the planet’s surface.
Telescopic observations by astronomers like Galileo, Huygens, and Cassini have revealed a vast array of atmospheric phenomena including clouds, winds, seasons, polar ice caps, layered dark markings, volcanic activity, and canyons. These discoveries, along with more recent explorations of Mars by spacecraft, have given the planet an increasingly prominent role in popular culture over the past century.
3. It’s red
Mars is red because its surface has a lot of iron oxide which is the same compound that gives blood and rust its red color.
It also has a layer of rusty dust on its surface which was formed long ago when liquid water flowed on Mars. This rusty material was transported around the planet in dust storms.
The rover Spirit and Opportunity took samples of this rusty dust to be examined, and they found it has many different colours including reds, browns and oranges.
The dust gets kicked up by the massive storms on Mars, and it spreads across the whole planet. The oxidized iron in the dust is then blown into the atmosphere and the light that surrounds the planet bounces off the dust, giving it a red tinge!
4. It’s cold
Mars has long been a point of fascination for scientists and astronomers. It’s been featured in science-fiction movies and has become one of the most coveted destinations for human exploration and colonization.
But despite its hot appearance, it’s actually quite cold. That’s because in orbit, it’s about 50 million miles farther from the Sun than Earth.
That makes it difficult for it to warm up and get a lot of areothermal heat to work with. Plus, there’s no liquid water on the planet and its thin atmosphere doesn’t allow for a lot of moisture to build up.
During winter, ice caps at the north pole and south pole of Mars accumulate. This ice is made up of frozen carbon dioxide.
During the summer, when the ice caps are exposed to sunlight, they melt. That releases CO2 vapor into the air. This causes large cirrus clouds to form. It also gives rise to Earth-like snow and frost.
5. It has a thin atmosphere
Mars has a thin atmosphere made from 95% carbon dioxide and 2.7% nitrogen. This means that the pressure at ground level is only a few millibars (less than one percent of Earth’s), but it’s still thick enough to support strong winds and enable occasional planet-wide dust storms that can cover the Martian surface for months.
The planet’s atmosphere also has a seasonal variation in pressure that Earth doesn’t have, because the amount of carbon dioxide changes with each season. During the winter, some of the carbon dioxide condenses into ice on the Martian poles; when it melts in summer, it goes back into the atmosphere.
The polar caps are composed primarily of water ice, though they also contain solid, dry carbon dioxide — or a layer of “dry ice.” This dries up in the cold winter when it’s exposed to sunlight and then melts again when it’s exposed to warmer temperatures in summer. During the winter, this dry ice can be seen covering the northern and southern polar caps.
6. It has a lot of craters
Mars is a beaten and battered planet with a lot of space rocks hitting it over billions of years. These space rocks leave impact craters that tell a lot about Mars’ past and present.
Some of the craters are still pristine, which presents evidence for their age and geologic history. Other craters have surrounding ejecta, lava flow sites, water flow sites and sedimentary layering, among other things.
Craters are also the source of many eolian features such as systems of parallel plumes or streaks that can extend hundreds of kilometers across the Martian surface. These wind blown lines are formed when dust, sand and other fine particles are pushed up from the ground.
The most dramatic contrast on Mars is between the flattened, eroding northern plains and the rugged, pitted and cratered highlands in the south. The scarp between these two physiographic provinces is caused by erosional processes that are unique to Mars.
7. It has highlands
Mars has many features, but the most interesting ones are its highlands and volcanoes. One of the largest volcanoes in the solar system is Olympus Mons, which is 550 km (370 miles) wide and five times as tall as the largest on Earth.
In addition to large shield volcanoes, Mars also has other kinds of volcanic landforms. These include small, steep-sided cones and huge plains of lava.
The northern hemisphere of Mars has low plains that are separated from the more heavily cratered southern highlands by an escarpment that rises to 2 to 3 km above the surface. These cliffs are very similar to ridges on Mercury or the Moon, but they have been extensively eroded.
Another interesting feature of the Martian surface is its large crustal domes and graben. These tectonic features are thought to have been formed when the interior of Mars melted and redistributed its contents.
The thin atmosphere of Mars contains a seasonally variable amount of water, nitrogen, and oxygen. Tenuous clouds and migrating storms indicate that Earth-like processes are active on the planet.
8. It has channels
Mars has many different types of life, from plants to microbes. Some of these organisms are able to survive in the harshest conditions on earth. For example, microbes that live in salt rocks are able to draw water from salts directly into their bodies.
Scientists believe that in the past Mars had a lot of water and it was much wetter than it is today. They also think that the planet had some periods of warmer and colder climates.
The resulting water would have been able to melt and form channels and valley networks, which are often braided in a way that resembles river deltas on Earth. Some of these channels are 60 miles (100 km) wide and 1,200 miles (2,000 km) long.
The streamlined surface features of the channels, such as eroded craters with teardrop-shaped tails, scour marks and streamlined islands, are a clear sign that liquid water flowed across the Martian surface. But it isn’t just rivers that formed the channels, according to a new study.