Mars Planet (Red Planet) Exploration and Discovery: Facts About Mars, Moons, Climate and Surface

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Photo of Mars Planet (Red Planet) Exploration and Discovery: Facts About Mars, Moons, Climate and Surface

Mars is the fourth planet in order from the sun and the second smallest planet after mercury. This planet is called red planet because it has a red appearance which makes it unique and different from all other planets on the solar system. In this article, you are going to learn the most interesting facts about Mars planet, Mars moons, climate and the surface including the physical characteristics of mars planet. You are also going to understand why the planet is called Mars.

Interesting facts about Mars.

  1. Mars is a rocky and terrestrial planet, which makes it very similar to Earth.
  2. This planet was named after Roman god of war.
  3. Mars has a cold and thin atmosphere which implies that liquid water cannot exist on the Martian surface for a longer length of time.
  4. Mars is aterrestrial planetthat consists of minerals containingsiliconandoxygen,metals, and other elements that typically make uprock.
  5. Mars is approximately half the diameter of Earth with a surface area only slightly less than the total area of Earths driedland.
  6. Mars is less dense than Earth; it has about 15% of Earth’s volume and 11% of Earth’smass, resulting in about 38% of Earth’s surface gravity.
  7. Marshasastrikingred likeappearance; it is often called the red planet. The red-orange appearance of the Martian surface is caused byiron (III) oxide or rust.
  8. In the past, there has been volcanic activity on Mars planetwhich led to huge dust storm
  9. Mars has the largest volcanoes in the solar system including Olympus Mons, which is about 370 miles (600 km) in diameter.
  10. The diameter of mars is about 6,787km, which is approximately half of the diameter of Earth.

Mars discovery and History

Mars is one of Earths closest neighbours, the next planet from the Sun after planet Earth,Its surface area is only slightly less than the total area of Earths dry land. Mars planet is known as red planet. According to scientific discovery, the planet has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons and weather just like planet Earth. Another name for Mars planet is the red planet; it is named red planet because of its reddish rocks, the rocks are rusty when they come in contact with oxygen. The surface of Mars appears dusty and rocky. It has a thin atmosphere consisting of carbon dioxides, nitrogen, argon and very little amount of oxygen.

Ancient people have known about Mars, there is no specific record of the first person who discovered Mar. Galileo Galilei in 1610 made the first telescopic observation of Mars, he was the first person to observe Mars with a primitive telescope. After him, many other astronomers discovered mars polar ice caps, the soil and the surface area..

In 1576, a Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe made accurate calculations of the position of Mars with his eyes! He had keen eyesight that helped him in calculating the position without sophisticated instruments in a matter of just 4 minutes.

Then German astronomer Johannes Kepler came up with a revolutionary idea that the orbit of Mars is elliptical and not circular in shape .This was the contradictory statement beacause most of the astronomers had believed the orbits of all planets were circular. Soon, Kepler did not only claimed Mars planet, he concluded that all the other planets have an elliptical orbits.

In 1971, Mariner 9 was sent to Mars, it came back with images of huge volcanoes and vast canyons. It helped discover the famous volcano that is not on earth, Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is the biggest Mountain on Mars. It would reach a height of 15 miles above the surface of the earth.

In 1976, the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars and studied sites at Chryse and Utopia. They recorded a desert environment with a reddish surface and a reddish atmosphere.

In 1997, Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars and sent a small rover, Sojourner to take soil samples and pictures of the planet. Among the data returned were more than 16,000 images from the lander and 550 images from the rover, as well as more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. Mars Global Surveyor, which also reached Mars in 1997 and remained operational until 2006, returned images produced by its systematic mapping of the surface. The European Space Agency’s Mars Express space probe went into orbit around Mars in late 2003 and sent the Beagle 2 lander to the surface, but contact was not established with the lander. The American rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed successfully in early 2004 and have explored the Martian landscape (Spirit’s last transmission was in 2010).

In 2008 NASA’s Phoenix lander touched down in the planet’s north polar region; it conducted studies for five months. Another NASA rover, Curiosity, landed on Mars near its equator in 2012.

Who named Mars?

Mars was named after the Roman god of war as a result of its blood red color. The Egyptians called the red planet ‘Har decher’ or the Red One. The Babylonians called Mars ‘Nergal’ or ‘the Star of Death’. Greeks called Mars Ares which means the war-god, this name is associated with warfare and bloodshed. The Romans too called it the God of war and christened it with its present name ‘Mars’. According to ancient mythology, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus who discovered the city of Rome. The Romans considered Mars as the one who protects them. The Romans also believed that March was the season of war.

How many seasons does Mars have?

Mars axis of rotation is tilted about 25 to the plane of revolution, as a result of this striking tilt, the planet experiences seasons similar to Earths seasons. One of the most striking seasonal changes on Mars is the growing or shrinking of white areas near the poles known as polar caps. These polar caps are made of water ice and dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). There is usually yearly fluctuation of the growth of polar cap. For instance, during the Martian summer, the polar cap in that hemisphere shrinks and the dark regions grow darker; in winter, the polar cap grows again and the dark regions become paler. The seasonal portion of the ice cap composes of dry ice. When the ice cap is seasonally warmed, geyser like jets of carbon dioxide gas mixed with dust and sand erupt from the ice.

Mars Moons

Mars has two natural satellites (moons) which are Phobos and Deimos , these two moons were discoveredby American astronomer, AsaphHallin1877and were named after Marss two sons. Phobos means fear while Deimos means terror and are both said to be irregularly shaped. Phobos and Deimos are clearly made of carbon-rich rock mixed with ice and are covered in dust and loose rocks, theinnermostof Phobos isabout7mi(11km) in diameterandorbitstheplanetwithaperiodof rotation(7hours39min). This is farlessthanMars’speriod,causingittoriseinthewestandsetintheeast. However, theoutersatellite,Deimos,isabout4mi(6km)indiameter.

Mars two moons: Phobos and Deimos
Mars two moons: Phobos and Deimos


Diameter of Mars

The diameter of mars is about 6,787km, which is approximately half of the diameter of Earth. Mars is less dense than Earth, having about 15% of Earths volume and 11% of the mass. Its surface area is only slightly less than the total area of Earths dry land.

Orbital Rotation of Mars

Marss year is two times longer than Earths, it takes 687 days to revolve around the Sun which represents the Martian year, while it takes 365.25-day for earth to complete its orbit, the average distance of this planet from the sun is 228,000,000km and 142 million miles (229 million kilometers) from the earth . The planet takes 24 hours and 37 minutes to rotate on its own axis. At its most distant (at aphelion), Mars lies 249.23 million kilometers from the Sun. At perihelion (its closest approach), Mars lies only 206.62 million km away. On average, Mars is about 227.9 million km from the Sun. For comparison, we often say Earth is about 150 million km away from the Sun. In its orbit, our planet travels out to 152.1 million kilometers from the Sun and comes as close as 147 million km. The day and night in Mars are nearly the same as that of the earth in respect of period of time. The longer year of mars is obviously due to the planets distance from the Sun and the planet has the second most eccentric orbit of anybody in the solar system.

Mars Climate

Mars is much colder than Earth due to its distance from the sun. Its temperature can get as low as -1950F (-1250C) near the pole which makes mars planet very cold. Other times, mars never get above freezing. Mars has a thin atmosphere with a hard and rocky surface, the soil is made up of iron oxide (rust) which makes the ground appears red most of the time; Its atmospheric pressure is about a hundred times less than Earths. Mars has little oxygen, contain high quantity of carbon dioxide and no liquid water which make it impossible for life to exist. It has also been implicated in Marss plate tectonics and possibly changes in its climate

Mars Surface

On the surface of mars planet, there are gorges volcanoes, mountains, canyons and craters, according to scientists, the canyons were formed by the present of water.The planet has experienced volcanic activity in the past; specifically huge dust storms which stirred up the red dirt. These heavy dust storms could have lasted up to a month capable of covering the entire red planet. This is one of the reasons why mars is referred to red planet. Based on scientific observations, some minor eruptions might still occur on the planet in the future. Scientists are not sure if there is an active volcanism deep beneath the surface of this planet. Constant volcanic activity from the three largest volcanoes on Mars built up a huge region called the Tharsis Bulge (or Tharsis Rise). This region has roughly the same mass as the dwarf planetCeres, and it may as well have affected the planets rate of rotation.

Mars has a thin atmosphere; it is a hard and rocky planet which contains Iron oxide (rust) hence it is called the red planet. On the coldest part of this planet, there is present of ice, the atmosphere of Mars is completely made of carbon dioxide and traces of nitrogen, argon and there could be traces of other gases in this planet. According to reports, there is no existence of life on Mars Planet since there is very little oxygen and water but very large quantity of carbon dioxide on the entire atmosphere.

Channels, valleys, and gullies are found all over the Martian surface. The scientists suggested that liquid water might have flowed across the planet’s surface in recent times. Many regions are covered with valleys, channels and gullies, some of these channels can measure about 60 miles (100 km) wide and 1,200 miles (2,000 km) long. However, scientists think that the liquid water might have flowed across the planet’s surface in recent times and they also suggested that water may still be within the cracks and pores in underground rocks. There are also present of craters and flat, low-lying plains. The lowest of the northern plains are among the flattest, smoothest places in the solar system, possibly created by water that once flowed across the Martian surface. The northern hemisphere mostly lies at a lower elevation than the southern hemisphere, suggesting the crust may be thinner in the northern part than in the south. This difference between the north and south might be due to a very large impact shortly after the birth of Mars.