Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. It has a diameter of about half the Earth, measuring only 6,800 km across. The total mass of Mars is only about 10% the mass of Earth
1. Mars is often called the ‘Red Planet’ due to the iron oxide prevalent on its surface, which gives it a reddish look.
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2.. Mars has two known moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. The two moons were discovered by American astronomer Asaph Hall over the course of a week in 1877.
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3.Mars has the highest known mountain within the Solar System – the mighty Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is the youngest of the large volcanoes on Mars, having formed during Mars’s Amazonian Period. It has a height of nearly 22 km (14 mi) by one measure and stands almost three times as tall as Mount Everest’s height above sea level.
4. At present, Mars is host to five functioning spacecraft: three in orbit — the Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and two on the surface — Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.
5.The atmosphere (mostly made up of carbon dioxide) on Mars is so thin that water cannot exist in liquid form—it can exist only as water vapor or ice. Liquid water is considered for many scientists to be the “holy grail” of Mars.
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6.Mars has an enormous canyon named Valles Marineris (Mariner Valley) which is an astounding 2,500 miles long and four miles deep. As long as the continental United States, this gigantic canyon was likely formed by the tectonic “cracking” of Mars’ crust and is the longest known crevice in the solar system
7.Mars’ seasons are twice as long as those on Earth because it takes Mars 687 days to orbit the sun, twice as long as Earth’s 365-day journey
8.Mars has no magnetic field, indicating that it does not have a molten metal core, like Earth does. However, there is evidence that Mars once had a magnetic field and that the field experienced reversals, much like Earth’s magnetic field which reverses every few thousand years
9.The average temperature on Mars is –81° and can range from –205° in the winter to 72° Fahrenheit in the summer.
10.In the 2015 movie The Martian, Matt Damon plays a character named Mark. “Mark” is the English version of the Latin name Marcus, which means Mars.