Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. It is often called the “Red Planet” because of the iron oxide present on its surface, which gives it a reddish appearance.
It has a thin atmosphere and surface features similar to those of the Moon’s impact craters, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps. It is the most widely explored planet for potential life, but scientists haven’t yet found evidence of microbial or aquifer-like water on its surface.
Mars is the Red Planet
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is about half the size of Earth. It orbits the sun every 687 days.
The reason that it is called the red planet is because the soil on the surface of Mars looks like rusty iron. This is because it gets blown around in huge dust storms that cover it in a layer of reddish oxide.
It is also the color of the planet’s atmosphere, which is made up of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and trace amounts of oxygen, water, methane and other gases.
Scientists think that Mars once had more liquid water than it does today, which caused it to be a much warmer and wetter place. However, this water has been expelled from the planet over time.
This process has created a variety of different climates on the planet. Some of these changes were due to a changing tilt of the planet’s axis, which caused methane to be released into the atmosphere.
As a result, some areas of the planet became warmer and more liquid while other areas became colder. This has a big impact on the planet’s ecosystem and how it functions.
In addition, Mars’s thin atmosphere can cause it to become very cloudy, making it hard for humans to see the planet. This is why NASA rover missions have stopped working when they have been caught in dust storms on the surface of Mars.
In addition to analyzing the atmosphere, scientists are studying the planet’s internal structure and composition, which is why they are sending a NASA rover, Insight, to Mars in 2018. The rover is using telescopic observations to map out Mars’ inner parts in great detail.
It has a lot of colors
Mars is known for its rusty red color, but there are other colors to be seen. This is because it has a lot of different minerals on its surface, and each one has its own color.
The reddish-brown color of Mars is a result of iron oxide. This is similar to the way rust forms on Earth. The dust that Mars is covered with has a high iron content, and it oxidizes when exposed to air.
Another important factor in the color of the planet is the atmosphere. The planet’s atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and it has a lot of dust in it. This scatters the light and makes it look orange or red, depending on the amount of dust.
During the day, the sun’s light travels through more of the planet’s atmosphere. This longer trip allows the orange and red light to reach our eyes. But at sunset, the sunlight doesn’t have that long of a journey to travel through the planet’s atmosphere.
This means that the sun’s light looks bluer at night on Mars. It also means that the colors aren’t as accurate as they would be if the planet was a different color.
To make the pictures look more accurate, scientists often touch them up and change the colors. These alterations help researchers see topographical patterns on the planet and also facilitate geologic comparisons between the planet and our own.
There are several ways that astronomers can make images of the planet look better, but one method is to use RGB imaging. This technique is the most accurate in capturing colors tones and contrasts, but it can be quite time-consuming.
It has a watery past
Despite its arid surface, Mars once had rivers, lakes and seas. But a few billion years ago, the solar wind pummeled Mars’s atmosphere, stripping away its protective shield and allowing liquid water to evaporate into space.
Today, a majority of Mars’s water is lost to space, either merging with minerals or escaping as ice. But a new study suggests that some of this water may still be stuck on the planet, in the form of molecules trapped in its crust.
Researcher Bethany Ehlmann, a postdoctoral associate at Caltech, and her colleagues say that between 30 and 99 percent of the water on Mars may still be incorporated into the crystal structure of minerals in its crust. It’s a process called crustal hydration, and it may explain the vast majority of water loss from Mars.
The researchers analyzed data from various spacecraft that have visited the planet, including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Curiosity rover. They found evidence of water incorporated into the crystal structure of minerals across the Martian landscape.
One of the best examples of this is a strange valley in the middle of Mars’s Mount Sharp. Scientists think this valley, Gediz Vallis, was once home to a river that churned up sediment.
They also found rippled rocks in the area that look like the kind of undulating patterns you might see when a wave hits a beach. Mission scientists believe that these grooves are the result of waves of ancient water lapping on a shallow lake, sending rock from the bottom to the top.
These findings are important for future exploration of the Red Planet, as they show how a significant portion of the planet’s water might still be locked up in its crust. Moreover, they could provide a new tool for finding remnants of ancient microbial life that could have blossomed on Mars long ago.
It has only 2 moons
Mars has only two moons — the bigger, inner one called Phobos and the smaller, outer one called Deimos. They are among the most unusual natural satellites in our Solar System and were discovered 145 years ago, in 1877.
These moons have strange orbital trajectories, with Phobos rotating three times a day and Deimos going around once every 30 hours. It’s also interesting to note that both moons have rotation periods that are locked to their orbital motion, which is similar to how our Moon rotates.
This orbital stability helps to keep the long axis of each moon pointed toward Mars, which means that they always present the same face to the Red Planet. This is a phenomenon known as gravity gradient stabilization, which has been used to stabilize low Earth orbiting satellites with similar trajectories.
The most popular explanation for the origin of Mars’ two tiny moons is that they were asteroids caught by the gravity of the planet. This idea is based on the fact that C-type carbonaceous asteroids are abundant in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
However, it doesn’t explain their small size, irregular shape and presumed non-Martian composition (they have a high porosity), or their orbits that do not change due to Mars’ tidal forces. Instead, these moons probably formed in an extended disc of debris from a giant impact on the planet.
This theory is backed up by observations of the two Martian moons, which have spectra and albedos that are different from those of chondrite asteroids and the carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that are common in the asteroid belt. The cratered surface of Phobos also indicates that it was once part of a larger object.
It is a cold planet
Mars is the coldest planet in our Solar System and is much cooler than Earth. This is because it is far closer to the sun and has a thin atmosphere.
On Mars the air pressure is very low, only about 1% of what it is on Earth at sea level, which makes it extremely difficult for air to carry heat away from the surface. This is why the average temperature on Mars can be about -20 degrees Celsius during summer, which means it can feel quite similar to an average winter day on Earth.
One of the biggest mysteries on Mars is the fact that there is no liquid water on its surface. This is because the low atmospheric pressure is so low that any liquid water on its surface would quickly boil away.
Despite this, researchers have discovered that there is a lot of evidence to show that water once flowed on the planet. This is because there are ice caps that exist on both hemispheres of the planet, as well as a lot of finely layered deposits.
These layers of ice and dust are probably deposited over long periods of time. They also accumulated in times when the axis of Mars was tilted much more than it is today.
Another thing that has been found on the planet is a lot of ice-covered volcanoes and mountains. These are very similar to mountains on Earth and are thought to be the result of climatic change.
Scientists are still trying to figure out what the climate was like on Mars in the past. The most recent research suggests that early Mars was a colder planet than it is now. This is because the sun was not as bright when early Mars was formed, which may have caused it to be colder and icy.
Mars, often referred to as the red planet due to its reddish surface coloration, is one of the four planets orbiting our Sun and second-smallest in our Solar System.
Planet Venus shares many surface features similar to Earth, such as impact craters, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps. Furthermore, two irregularly-shaped moons called Phobos and Deimos orbit it as well.
Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, has long fascinated humanity since first observed. Being so close to Earth makes it easy for astronomers to spot in the night sky; scientists have been studying its surface and atmosphere using spacecraft since 1960s.
Mars, like other terrestrial planets, features a solid core, rocky mantle and crust. Furthermore, there may be an ocean beneath its surface which could hold liquid water.
Mars’ surface features many craters and canyons similar to those seen here on Earth, as well as some polar ice caps composed mainly of carbon dioxide (dry ice) with some small amounts of water ice present.
Due to Earth’s chilly and thin atmosphere, liquid water probably didn’t exist for extended periods on its surface; however, certain features known as recurring slope lineae indicate that briny waters may have flowed at various points throughout its history.
While early Mars may have had a thicker atmosphere, over billions of years it became colder and dryer as its magnetic field faded and its atmosphere gradually diminished.
Many people believe that canals crisscrossing Mars’ surface were created by intelligent beings in ancient times, leading to stories about Martians and invasions on Earth like 1938 radio drama “The War of the Worlds.” This belief inspired numerous stories featuring them such as this popular belief.
There are various myths regarding our planet involving its two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Both moons orbit it at roughly equal rates but Phobos is 2.5 times further away.
Mars has long been an object of fascination for people throughout history, from Romans naming it after their god of war, Mars, to other civilizations who refer to it by different names like Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures who call it Huo Xing (meaning “the fire star”).
Mars’ atmosphere consists primarily of carbon dioxide – this makes its air 100 times thinner than that found here on Earth which contains mostly nitrogen and oxygen, with trace amounts of other gases such as water vapor and argon present.
Mars’ atmosphere is typically dusty with tiny particles about 1.5 um in diameter giving the skies their distinctive tawny color. Dust devils constantly create powerful winds to kick these particulates up from below ground level, thus contributing to this atmospheric condition.
On Earth, atmospheric ozone acts to shield it from dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the Sun; on Mars however, no such protection exists; instead the planet absorbs solar rays directly and does not experience much solar heating of its surface.
As a result, temperatures at the surface are considerably colder than they are on Earth with winter temperatures ranging from -125 to 0 degrees C at the poles in winter; and climate much drier and harsher with reduced air pressure and more dust storms than Earth.
Evidence of water on Mars exists both at its polar ice caps and just beneath its surface in clouds and seasonal briny water flows down hillsides and crater walls, yet due to its thin atmosphere this liquid water cannot remain for very long on its surface in liquid form.
Mars contains at least several times higher methane concentrations than Earth, although its source remains unknown. Possible explanations include chemical breakdown of interplanetary dust or release by organisms on its surface; whatever its source, methane’s presence raises important questions regarding life on this Red Planet.
Mars’ surface is an array of contrasts. Cratered highlands in the south contrast with plains sculpted by wind and water in its northern lowlands; meanwhile large impacts likely created southern highlands.
Mars’ surface features include channels, valleys and gullies that indicate that liquid water once flowed freely across its surface at some point in history. Some of these channels can extend 60 miles wide by up to 1,200 miles deep – enough evidence for future analysis!
Many of these channels can be seen in areas of collapsed terrain within older cratered highlands, suggesting they were created by liquid water moving at high speeds across the surface of Earth. Lava flows in both northern and western regions show evidence that their formation may have also been caused by liquid flowing over its crust.
On Mars’ surface can also be found a number of inactive shield volcanoes which are thought to be left from an earlier period of volcanic activity on this planet.
There are also hematite concretions scattered across Mars’ surface, suggesting there once existed small oceans or lakes here in its past. Water from such bodies of water could have collected in cracks and pores in rocks to form these concretions over time.
As it remains unknown whether Mars had enough liquid water in the past to support life or not, data from rovers and orbiters suggests there was at one time plenty of liquid water present on its surface.
Mars hosts two permanent polar ice caps that are thought to be composed largely of water ice. However, during winter these poles become covered in thin layers of carbon dioxide dry ice which sublimate into clouds of water ice upon sunlight exposure.
Mars weather is unique. Due to the planet’s 25 degree axial tilt compared with 23 for Earth, seasons on Mars are much more extreme. At certain times of day and year, its northern hemisphere can tilt toward the sun at certain moments, producing short winters and extended summers; at others times though it faces away from it and experiences short springs and long falls.
Mars experiences temperatures ranging from extremely cold at its northern pole to very warm near its south pole, due to the planet’s polar caps which contain both water-ice in its north polar region and dry carbon dioxide (carbon-dioxide) ice at its south polar region.
Mars’ thermal tides cause temperature variations to vary greatly from day to night, impacting surface pressure and temperature by as much as 10% of average atmospheric pressure.
Researchers are still gathering knowledge of Mars’ climate conditions. Future explorers must have confidence that they can withstand its extreme conditions when visiting this Red Planet.
One way of doing this is by reviewing data collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover – equipped with a weather instrument – which enables atmospheric scientists to better comprehend both global and local forecasting on our planet.
MEDA measures pressure and temperature at various locations on Mars, giving atmospheric scientists invaluable data for forecasting purposes both globally and locally. This data is essential in understanding forecast conditions on this distant world.
Researchers use it to understand the impacts of dust storms on Earth – such as small storms that affect multiple regions or massive ones that cover the entire globe.
Wind gusts during a dust storm can create changes to the atmosphere that damage sensors, potentially endangering robots that cannot provide enough protection from these effects.
Since beginning its exploration mission on Mars in August 2012, Curiosity has also collected meteorological data that allows scientists to make more precise climate forecasts and improve predictive models that support its exploration mission.
Mars, sometimes referred to as the Red Planet due to its vibrant red hue, is the fourth planet from our Sun. A dynamic environment with seasons, polar ice caps, canyons and extinct volcanoes.
Study of Mangalyaan can aid scientists in their exploration of early history of our Solar System and life within it. India launched their inaugural interplanetary probe to Mars with this mission – it reached Mars on September 2, 2007.
Formation of Planets in the Solar System
At its inception 4.6 billion years ago, our Solar System formed from gas and dust from a young star cluster known as the solar nebula. A supernova explosion may have led to its collapse; leaving our Sun at its center and planets orbiting around it in an annular manner; moons formed around these planets as moons collided around their orbits while comets accumulated throughout outer areas of our Solar System.
Planet formation begins in large spinning disks of gas and solid material known as protoplanetary discs, where gas accumulates around its central star while solid material gradually coalesces into asteroids, comets, and eventually planets. Planets develop more quickly in areas with ample water; however, creating dense cores on outer planets takes significantly longer.
As planets gain mass they begin to spin faster, changing their orbital period and approaching closer to their central star. As their surfaces warm up they lose more surface area to space through evaporation; this process explains why inner planets tend to be made of rock while outer ones predominantly comprise gaseous forms.
Mars, being covered with an expanse of ice and snow that continually melts away into space, experiences twice the length of an Earth year. Furthermore, its shallow oceans show evidence of being once filled with liquid water through features like recurring slope lineae.
Phobos and Deimos, Mars’ two moons, have not been fully understood as to how they formed; it may be former asteroids captured by Mars’ gravity; given their closeness to their planet they likely formed at around the same time as Mars did.
Jupiter and Saturn formed by slowly gathering material from outer regions of protoplanetary disc in what’s known as core accretion scenario, wherein slow accumulation of planetesimals occurred over up to 10 million years (Mizuno 1980; Pollack et al 1996).
Characteristics of Planets
Planets are large natural bodies that orbit a star, most commonly the Sun. Our Solar System currently features eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Rochelle. Each has unique qualities but all share some similar features; for instance they all orbit in orbits around one star – our Sun being one. While each has individual qualities they share common ones such as gravity-related characteristics; atmospheres can generate weather; and internal nuclear fusion reactions allow heat/cool to be created both ways from each side allowing heat/cooling effect between two solar energy exchanged to them from it all resulting in more solar energy exchange than radiation losses due to distance from our Sun than other bodies lose as radiation losses.
Mars, often dubbed the Red Planet for its surface covered in rusty iron minerals, is an active world with seasons, polar ice caps, canyons and extinct volcanoes. Its atmosphere consists primarily of carbon dioxide with an average density about 100 times less than Earth’s; seasonal variations occur as carbon dioxide froze out during winter forming an invisible blanket of “dry ice”, stretching from pole to latitude nearer the equator.
Mars boasts two small moons named Phobos and Deimos that resemble asteroids. Their orbits may have taken them through the asteroid belt before coming close enough for Mars’ gravity to capture and pull them into its orbit.
Mars currently lacks liquid water on its surface, but evidence points towards it having once had plenty. For instance, its northern plains appear flat and smooth due to being once covered with flowing rivers of liquid water. Furthermore, numerous geological features like craters hint at its presence throughout history of Mars’ life cycle.
Mars remains uncharted when it comes to its internal composition; however, its solid core may consist of nickel and iron; its outer layers consist of rocks and silicates; the atmosphere consists mostly of carbon dioxide with occasional water vapor or nitrogen molecules present; while its surface features numerous craters caused by impact impacts from space as well as being affected by its tectonic plates that form its crust.
Atmosphere of Planets
Planetary atmospheres consist of the thin layer of gases encasing their surfaces, typically comprising nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and other trace gases such as nitrogen monoxide or methane. Planets vary greatly in their levels of atmosphere – some have none while others boast thick layers such as Venus. A planet’s exact atmosphere depends on both its distance from the Sun and size – inner planets Mercury Venus Earth Mars have thick atmospheric layers while outer ones such as Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune have thinner atmospheres.
Scientists have recently made the discovery that Mars was once a warm, wet planet with lakes and rivers, made up of frozen carbon dioxide dry ice that shrinks and expands with seasons. Though its surface water may have receded over time, deep underground there may still be ample supplies of liquid water; two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos that resemble asteroids may have also once had liquid water covered surfaces.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and half as large as Earth, its red hue derived from rusty iron in its soil. A dynamic planet with seasons, polar ice caps, canyons and extinct volcanoes; once wetter than Earth-like environments due to an ongoing series of changes that altered it into an arid desert environment which scientists hope to explore further to ascertain whether life existed on Mars in its past incarnations.
Planets’ atmospheres form when solar wind collides with their surfaces and transfers solar energy, heating it and expanding gases on its surface. When solar winds move on, however, these expansions of gas recede back and the atmosphere dissipates.
To create an atmosphere, a planet must be located close enough to its giant neighbor for there to be gravity – this concept is known as the Goldilocks principle and only two planets in our Solar System have ever reached this threshold, Titan and Mercury.
Surface of Planets
A planet’s surface is exposed to sunlight and other cosmic bodies, and is composed of both the continental portion, above land level (known as emerged lands) and oceanic areas, below sea level (known as immersed lands).
Planets with rocky surfaces often contain mountains, valleys and craters as well as rivers and ice caps. There is evidence of warmer and more active periods when liquid water could flow across their surfaces, possibly even providing evidence for life on these planets.
Mars, commonly referred to as the Red Planet due to the abundance of iron oxide found in its soil, is an ever-evolving planet, complete with seasons, volcanoes, canyons and polar ice caps; evidence suggests it was once much warmer and wetter.
Science researchers on Mars have observed channels and valleys carved in the rock surface by water that once flowed on its surface. This water may have come from melting glaciers due to heat from the sun or chemical releases from asteroid impacts; some channels span 60 miles wide by 1,200 miles long! In addition, scientists have spotted riverbanks and evidence of ancient floods.
Mars also possesses a thin atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon – 100 times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere – with seasonal variations in thickness varying significantly between seasons. Solar wind also plays an influence role as heavier molecules escape the air into space.
Phobos and Deimos, two moons of Mars, feature rough surfaces dotted with many craters caused by meteor impacts. Due to its tilted rotational axis, each moon experiences different climate conditions over time.
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune make up our Solar System’s four gas giants; their composition primarily consisting of gases which gradually become more dense as you move away from their centers. Their surfaces may not be solid; rather they feature magnetic fields to help hold onto their gases together while gravitational force draws dusty atmospheres into rings around their planets.