Man has never been to Mars. But we have sent dozens of probes to the planet over recent decades. We continue to study the Red Planet and explore the possibility of whether it can support life or not. In the process, we’ve made many fascinating discoveries that have multiplied our interest with Mars.
Learn more about the planet with these 19 incredible and interesting facts about planet Mars.
- Mars is one of the nearest planetary neighbours in our Solar System – if you can call 140 million miles close…
- It has a surface area of 55,000,000 square miles. If you ignore the Earth’s water, you will find that the two planets have, more or less, the same surface area.
- Mars has a mass of 6.39 x 1023 kg, which is roughly 0.11 Earths. It has 15% of the volume and 10% the mass of the Earth.
- You can jump up to three times higher on Mars because its gravity is just 37% of the gravity you find on Earth.
- Life on Mars is not pleasant. While carbon dioxide accounts for 0.04% of our atmosphere, Mars’ atmosphere is mainly carbon dioxide. The atmosphere is 61 times thinner than what you find on Earth.
- Because of its distance from the Sun, temperatures on Mars range between -140 degrees celsius and 20 degrees celsius.
- Despite these unfortunate conditions, people once thought that Mars had intelligent life. Giovanni Schiaparelli, an Italian astronomer, was convinced that he could see grooves on the planet’s surface that couldn’t have occurred naturally. These lines were eventually proven to be an optical illusion.
- Even though it does not have life, Mars is the only other planet in the solar system besides Earth that can potentially nurture life.
- For the longest time, scientists believed that Mars was completely barren and dry. And its atmosphere was such that it could not permit water to exist on its surface. But, today, scientists know that there is water on Mars. But it isn’t liquid water. There is ice at the poles, though scientists are yet to discover whether or not water eventually melts in the summer seasons.
There is also evidence suggesting that Mars once had oceans. This presence of water has convinced astronomers that the planet once held life of some sort. They also believe that life could still exist somewhere on the planet.
- Mars has a feature called Valles Marineris, which is bigger than the Grand Canyon (20 times wider, five times deeper, and four times longer).
- Mars’ Olympus Mons is 27 kilometres high and 600 kilometres across, which makes it the largest volcano in the solar system. ‘Olympus Mons’ is three times taller than Everest.
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. It is approximately 227,900,000 kilometres from the star.
- Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system with an equatorial and polar diameter of 6,700 kilometres.
- It has two moons, namely: Phobos and Deimos. Meaning ‘Fear’ and ‘Panic’ respectively in Latin, the moons were discovered and named in 1877 by the astronomer Asaph Hall.
- In forty million years or so, gravitational forces will rip Phobos apart, leading to the creation of a ring. In other words, 40 million years from now, Mars will have a ring.
- It takes Mars 687 days to circle the Sun. So a year on Mars is 687 days. On the other hand, a day on Mars is 24 hours and 40 minutes.
- Mars was first recorded by Egyptian Astronomers in the Second Millennium BC.
- The planet is named after the Roman god of war. The Greeks called it Ares, their name for the god of war.
- The Viking Landers were the first spacecraft to land on Mars. This happened in 1976.