Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the solar system’s second smallest planet. Mars, named after the Roman god of battle, is also known as the “Red Planet” because of its reddish hue. The planet is just far enough away from us to make that fantasy difficult, yet close enough to pique our interest. So, what are some of the most fascinating facts about Mars?
For space explorers all across the world, Mars is a regular topic of conversation. We’ve dispatched hundreds of satellites to investigate it. Some people want to use it to land astronauts.
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These 20 unique and fascinating facts about Mars will astound your relatives and acquaintances-:
1. Mars Had Water In The Past
For years, scientists have debated whether Mars had life or not. In fact, astronomer Percival Lowell mistook sightings of “Canali” (the Italian term for channels) on the planet for evidence of alien-built canals.
Lowell’s views were limited by his day’s poor telescope optics, and the canals he observed were actually optical illusions. Other traces of ancient water, such as channels etched in the ground and rocks that could only have developed in the presence of water, have been discovered by many spacecraft.
2. The landmass of Mars and Earth are nearly identical
Despite the fact that Mars has only 15% of the Earth’s volume and just over 10% of the Earth’s mass, water covers over two-thirds of the planet’s surface. The gravity on Mars’ surface is just 37% that of Earth’s (meaning you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars).
3. The highest mountain in the solar system is found on Mars
Olympus Mons is a shield volcano with a height of 21 kilometers and a circumference of 600 kilometers. Despite the fact that it formed over billions of years, evidence from volcanic lava flows is so recent that many scientists believe it is currently active.
4. Today, Mars has frozen water
We’re fascinated by the topic of water because it suggests habitability; simply put, life as we know it is more likely to exist where there is water. In reality, the current mission of the Curiosity rover on Mars is to look for livable habitats (in the past or present).
Although Mars’ thin atmosphere prevents water from flowing or remaining in huge amounts on the surface, we do know that ice exists in the poles – and potentially elsewhere on the planet. The concern is whether or not the ice can melt enough water in the summer to host any bacteria.
5. Mars Had A Denser Atmosphere Once Upon A Time
More atmosphere is required for water to flow as it did in the past on Mars. So, in the last several billion years, something must have changed. What? The Sun’s radiation impacting the atmosphere is considered to have “stripped” the lighter hydrogen molecules from the top, spreading them into space.
This would reduce the amount of atmosphere around Mars over a lengthy period of time. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) satellite are looking into this subject in further depth.
6. The greatest dust storms in the solar system are seen on Mars
They have the potential to endure months and blanket the entire globe. Because it’s elliptical (oval-shaped) orbital route around the Sun is longer than any other planet in the solar system, the seasons are severe.
7. Mars fragments have landed on Earth
Scientists have discovered small remnants of the Martian atmosphere in meteorites forcefully expelled from Mars, which then orbited the solar system for millions of years among galactic debris before crashing into Earth. Scientists were able to begin researching Mars before launching space flights as a result of this.
8. In terms of terrain, Mars has several extreme highs and lows
The surface gravity of Mars is just 37% that of Earth, allowing volcanoes to grow taller without collapsing. This is why the planet Olympus Mons has Olympus Mons, the Solar System’s highest volcano. According to NASA, it stands 16 miles (25 kilometers) tall and has a diameter roughly equal to the state of Arizona.
However, Mars has a deep and broad canyon known as Valles Marineris, named for the spacecraft that found it (Mariner 9). The canyon is 4 miles (7 kilometers) deep in certain places. According to NASA, the valley is as large as the United States and covers nearly 20% of Mars’s surface area.
9. The Sun seems to be roughly half the size on Mars as it does on Earth
The Martian southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun at its closest point to the Sun, resulting in a short, intensely hot summer, while the northern hemisphere experiences a brief, cold winter; at its furthest point from the Sun, the Martian northern hemisphere leans towards the Sun, resulting in a long, mild summer, while the southern hemisphere experiences a long, cold winter.
10. On Mars, the sunsets are blue:
The sky on Mars is pinkish-red during the day, which is the polar opposite of Earth’s skies.
11. There have only been 18 successful expeditions to Mars
There have been 40 missions to Mars as of September 2014, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, but not including flybys. The Mars Curiosity project, which launched in 2012, was followed by the MAVEN mission, which launched on September 22, 2014, and the Indian Space Research Organisation’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter, which launched on September 24, 2014.
The ExoMars mission, which includes an orbiter, lander, and rover, will be the next to arrive, followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, which is scheduled to launch in March 2016 and arrive in September 2016.
12. Mars is named after the Roman god of battle, Mars
The planet Ares was named after the Greek deity of battle Ares, and the Romans followed suit, linking the planet’s blood-red color with Mars, their own god of war. Other ancient societies focused on color as well: Chinese astronomers referred to it as ‘the fire star,’ while Egyptian priests referred to it as ‘Her Desher,’ or ‘the red one.’ The red color of Mars is attributable to the abundance of iron in the rock and dust that blanket its surface.
13. Mars has two moons, one of which is doomed to perish
Phobos and Deimos, two asteroid-like moons, orbit the Earth. According to NASA, most scientists think the moons were kidnapped and driven into orbit by the Red Planet’s gravity long ago since their compositions are comparable to asteroids found elsewhere in the Solar System.
Phobos, on the other hand, has a brief existence in the Solar System. Phobos will collide with Mars’ surface or split apart in around 30 million to 50 million years because the planet’s tidal force will be too strong to withstand.
14. Might Have Fragments Of Mars On Earth
Remember how we talked about Mars’ low gravity? Large asteroids have struck the planet in the past, just as they have Earth. The majority of the debris fell back to Earth, while some were blasted into space. This set off an astonishing trip in which the debris traveled across the Solar System, landing on Earth in some circumstances.
SNC (Shergottites, Nakhlites, Chassignites — geologic composition types) is the technical term for these meteorites. The gases trapped in several of these meteorites were almost identical to those collected on Mars by NASA’s Viking landers in the 1970s and 1980s.
15. We Thought Mars Was Like The Moon In The Early Space Age
The early NASA probes that flew by the Red Planet all occurred to picture places on the planets that had cratered. This caused some scientists to conclude (incorrectly) that Mars had a similar environment to the moon: cratered and virtually unchanged. All of that changed in November 1971, when Mariner 9 landed on the planet for an orbital mission and found it wrapped in a massive dust storm.
Furthermore, strange shapes protruded from the dust, which turned out to be dormant volcanoes. Mariner 9 also discovered the enormous Valles Marineris, as previously noted. It irrevocably altered our perspective of the world.
16. Mars’ Atmosphere Contains Methane
Methane is emitted by bacteria and can be interpreted as an indication of biological or geological activity. And it’s assumed that active planets are more likely to contain life on them. As a result, scientists are attempting to answer the topic of methane on Mars. What is the general consensus? There is no agreement.
Over the years, telescopic studies have yielded widely disparate results, and few spacecraft have been built to investigate the element in depth. The Curiosity rover has identified tenfold increases in methane in its surroundings, but we have no idea whence it originated from or why the variations are occurring.
17. Mars would quickly kill an unprotected astronaut
There are several unpleasant scenarios that might occur if a person removes their helmet. First, Mars is normally rather cold; at mid-latitudes, the average temperature is -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 degrees Celsius). Second, there isn’t much of an atmosphere there. The atmospheric pressure on Mars is only 1% of what we have on Earth’s surface (on average).
Third, even if it had an atmosphere, the composition would be incompatible with the nitrogen-oxygen combination required by humans. Mars’ atmosphere contains around 95 percent carbon dioxide, 3 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent argon, and a few additional elements.
18. Mars Is A Popular Spacecraft Destination
There have been so many spacecraft that have tried a Martian trip that picking prominent ones in a short essay is difficult. NASA’s Viking landers were the first to land on the planet in 1976; in fact, NASA is the only entity to have done so thus far. Pathfinder-Sojourner (the first lander-rover combo) in 1997, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004, and the Curiosity rover in 2012 are some of its other missions.
This isn’t even taking into account the fleet of orbiters from the Soviet Union, NASA, the European Space Agency, and India that have explored Mars throughout the years. In the coming decade, there will be many more spacecraft.
19. Olympus Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system
It is located on Mars. It spans 600 kilometers in length and rises over 27 kilometers above the surrounding landscape. It is a shield volcano formed over millions of years by the continual action of flowing lava, which began 3 billion years ago.
Olympus Mons is part of a chain of volcanoes that run along the Tharsis Bulge, a volcanic plateau. This entire region is located above a hotspot, which is a location in the planet’s crust where the magma from deep within the planet may flow out to the surface.
20. Valles Marineris
On Mars’ equator, the Valles Marineris is a vast canyon system. It stretches over 4,200 kilometers and is 7 kilometers deep in certain areas. It would cover the whole North American continent and beyond if it existed on Earth.
Plate tectonics on Mars is quite primitive, and the movement of two plates past one other began separating the surface approximately 3.5 billion years ago. The Valles Marineris was formed as a result of this.
For space explorers all across the world, Mars is a regular topic of conversation. We’ve dispatched hundreds of satellites to investigate it. Mars is one of our solar system’s most explored bodies, and it’s the only place where we’ve dispatched rovers to examine the alien surface. So there you have it, a few of the most fascinating facts about Mars.
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