Most of us are fascinated by the numerous stars and celestial activities. Think about it, how many times have we spent a good night observing the galaxy and have made imaginative figures joining those twinkling dotted stars? Certainly, several times! Among these awe-inspiring celestial objects, are the planets, and when we try to go into the details of the eight planets, one of them which seems to be most intriguing and much-researched is the planet Mars. The fourth planet from sun after Mercury, Venus and the Earth, Mars and its altering features are often recorded through the telescopic observations. It’s a planet that has been the subject matter of interest of many scientists and scholars for a long time. Many have even speculated the possibility of vegetation and life on Mars; however, the snapshots brought by the Mariner 4 spacecraft in 1965, depicting bleak, cratered surface shocked a large number of people. A perception was made which took Mars as a ‘dead planet’. But human curiosity did not end there, and hence, the reason why so much complexity is associated with this Red Planet, Mars. The mission is still ON across the world! Look at the next part of this article to explore what has been unveiled about Mars so far.
Distance From Sun: 228,000,000 km
Distance From Earth: 55.7 x 106 km (Min) & 401.3 x 106 km (Max)
Mean Radius: 2,439.7 km
Mean Circumference: 15,329.1 km
Volume: 60,827,208,742 km3
Mass: 6.4191 x 1023 kg
Density: 5.427 g/cm3
Surface Area: 74,797,000 km2
Surface Gravity: 3.7 m/s2
Length of Day: 58.646 Earth days
Length of Year (Orbital Period): 0.2408467 Earth years
Number of Moons: 2, Phobos and Deimos
Average Orbit Velocity: 170,503 km/h
Orbit Inclination: 7.0 ˚
Orbit Circumference: 359,976,856 km
Temperature: -87°C to -5°C (Min/Max)
Interesting And Amazing Facts About Mars
- Mars is a small rocky planet about half of the size of the planet Earth.
- Mars received its name from Roman god of war. Egyptians named it ‘Her Desher’ referring to ‘The Red One’.
- Mars has undergone volcanism, impacts, crustal movements, and atmospheric effects such as dust storms just like its neighboring planets Mercury, Venus and the Earth.
- There is no global magnetic field on the surface of Mars. However, some areas in its southern hemisphere are highly magnetized. This effect is believed to be present in the Mar’s crust from about 4 billion years.
- Mars is famous as the ‘Red Planet’ because of its reddish appearance, which it gets due to the presence of iron oxide on its surface.
- Mars has a very thin atmospheric layer which is made up of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon and traces of water and oxygen.
- Mars surface is covered by a number of craters. Olympus Mons (22 km in height), an extinct volcanic crater, is known to be the highest mountain in the solar system. Olympus Mons is about thrice the height of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on the Earth.
- There’s a huge canyon, known as Valles Marineris, that lies on Mar’s equator. It is believed that it was formed due to possible large rifts in the Mar’s surface. The size of this valley is comparable to the distance between the New York and Los Angeles and is often called as the Martian equivalent of Earth’s Grand Canyon.
- Hellas Basin and Argyre Basin, are the largest and the second largest impact basins on the Mars, respectively. These basins are supposed to be formed when some large objects or asteroids may have hit Mar’s surface some billion years ago.
- Mars is known to have the largest dust storms in the solar system.
- There are significant variations in the temperature on Mars. During the day its temperature reaches as high as -5 ˚C whereas during the night it falls to a minimum of -87 ˚C.
- Mars is less dense than the Earth as it accounts for only 15% and 11% of the volume and mass of the Earth, respectively. However, its surface area is slightly less than the cumulative area of the dry land of the Earth.
- Mars’ moons were discovered by Asaph Hall in 1877.
- These moons, namely Phobos and Deimos, are considerably small with mean radiuses equivalent to 21 km and 12 km, respectively.
- Phobos’ orbit is much closer to Mars than any other known moon of any other known planet. As Phobos is gradually heading towards Mars, scientists believe that either it will crash into the planet or would form a ring around it in the next 50 million years.
- Deimos takes 30 hours to complete one orbit around Mars.
- The crust formation and changes on Mars takes place under Martian tectonism, which is a vertical mechanism with hot lava pushing upwards through the crust to the surface.
- The historic record of capturing first-close up photo of any planet other than the Earth was made when NASA’s Mariner 4 sent 22 photos of Mars back to the Earth in 1965.
- On 3rd September 1976, the U.S. Viking 2 planetary probe landed on the Utopia Basin of Mars.
- In the year 2005, radar data ascertained that poles and regions of mid-latitudes on the Mars had large quantity of water ice.
- The Phoenix spacecraft operated by NASA collected some data according to which Martian soil was found to be alkaline with elements like magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. All these elements are known to found in the garden of the Earth and promote plant growth.
- It is believed that because of low atmospheric pressure, water in liquid form cannot exist on Mars.
- The Polar Caps of the Mars have deposits of frozen carbon dioxide, also known as the dry ice, which grows and withdraws during Mars’ seasons. This layer is unique to Mars as no other known planet in the solar system has such a structure where unique spiral troughs are formed due to heating and cooling.
- Due to its elliptical orbit and tilted rotational axis, Mars has varying seasons which last longer than those on the Earth.
- The gravitational force on Mars is such that, here, a 100 pound person would weigh about 38 pounds.
- The geological history of Mars is divided into three periods: Noachian Period (4.5 to 3.5 billion years ago), the Hesperian Period (3.5 to 2.9–3.3 billion years ago) and the Amazonian Period 2.9–3.3 billion years ago to present).
- Scientific studies have suggested that around 3.5 billion years ago, Mars experienced the largest known floods in the solar system.