The Latest from Mars
Aug 03, · At its equator, Mars has a diameter of 4, miles (6, km), but from pole to pole, the diameter is 4, miles (6, km). Mars’ radius is, of course, half of planet’s diameter. The. MARS. Average Distance from Sun. 93 million miles. million miles. Average Speed in Orbiting Sun. miles per second. miles per second. Diameter. 7, miles.
Scientists describe a planet by many factors. First there is radius, for Mars that is 3, Its circumference is 21, km. Next is volume, which is 1. That sounds small, but that is equal to the total dry land here on Earth. As you can see, Mars is a small world, the second smallest in the Solar System.
Despite its small size, Mars has many interesting features that would seem larger than life. Mars is home to hundreds of thousands of impact craters. In addition to the extremes in topography, Mars is a world of weather extremes. Once these winds start, they pick up the iron oxide dust that covers the planet, turning into a dust storm. There have been dust storms on Mars that have gotten large enough to engulf the entire planet for days at a time.
Scientists believe that Mars was a larger planet early in the history of the Solar System. The impact that created the Northern Polar Basin-Borealis Basin would have been large enough to eject a portion of the planet into space and beyond its gravitational pull; thus, the planet may have lost part of itself from the crash. As you can see, the size of What are some uses of gold is a minor fact amongst all of the interesting facts that you can discover about the Red Planet, but, hopefully, it is enough to get you to do more research.
Want information on other planets? We have recorded several podcasts just about Mars. Source: NASA. Skip to content. Like this: Like Loading Previous Post Previous No Comet.
Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It's red because of rusty iron in the ground. Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon. Dec 22, · Scientists describe a planet by many factors. First there is radius, for Mars that is 3, km. Its circumference is 21, km. Next is volume, which is X 10 11 km 3. Apr 19, · Mars, fourth planet in the solar system in order of distance from the Sun and seventh in size and mass. It is a periodically conspicuous reddish object in the night sky. There are intriguing clues that billions of years ago Mars was even more Earth-like than today.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System , being larger than only Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the " Red Planet ". The days and seasons are comparable to those of Earth, because the rotational period as well as the tilt of the rotational axis relative to the ecliptic plane are similar. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons , the largest volcano and highest known mountain on any planet in the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris , one of the largest canyons in the Solar System.
These may be captured asteroids , similar to Eureka , a Mars trojan. Mars has been explored by several uncrewed spacecraft. Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to visit Mars; launched by NASA on 28 November , it made its closest approach to the planet on 15 July Mariner 4 detected the weak Martian radiation belt, measured at about 0.
There are investigations assessing the past habitability of Mars, as well as the possibility of extant life. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior. Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye, as can its reddish coloring.
In English, the planet is named for the Roman god of war,  an association made because of its red color, which suggests blood. Due to the global influence of European languages in astronomy , a word like Mars or Marte for the planet is common around the world, though it may be used alongside older, native words.
A number of other languages have provided words with international usage. For example:. Mars is approximately half the diameter of Earth, with a surface area only slightly less than the total area of Earth's dry land.
The red-orange appearance of the Martian surface is caused by iron III oxide , or rust. Like Earth, Mars has differentiated into a dense metallic core overlaid by less dense materials.
Besides silicon and oxygen, the most abundant elements in the Martian crust are iron , magnesium , aluminium , calcium , and potassium. The average thickness of the planet's crust is about 50 kilometres 31 mi , with a maximum thickness of kilometres 78 mi.
Mars is seismically active, with InSight recording over marsquakes and related events in Mars is a terrestrial planet whose surface consists of minerals containing silicon and oxygen , metals , and other elements that typically make up rock. The Martian surface is primarily composed of tholeiitic basalt ,  although parts are more silica -rich than typical basalt and may be similar to andesitic rocks on Earth, or silica glass. Regions of low albedo suggest concentrations of plagioclase feldspar , with northern low albedo regions displaying higher than normal concentrations of sheet silicates and high-silicon glass.
Parts of the southern highlands include detectable amounts of high-calcium pyroxenes. Localized concentrations of hematite and olivine have been found. Although Mars has no evidence of a structured global magnetic field ,  observations show that parts of the planet's crust have been magnetized, suggesting that alternating polarity reversals of its dipole field have occurred in the past. This paleomagnetism of magnetically susceptible minerals is similar to the alternating bands found on Earth's ocean floors.
One theory, published in and re-examined in October with the help of the Mars Global Surveyor , is that these bands suggest plate tectonic activity on Mars four billion years ago, before the planetary dynamo ceased to function and the planet's magnetic field faded. It is thought that, during the Solar System's formation , Mars was created as the result of a stochastic process of run-away accretion of material from the protoplanetary disk that orbited the Sun. Mars has many distinctive chemical features caused by its position in the Solar System.
Elements with comparatively low boiling points, such as chlorine , phosphorus , and sulphur , are much more common on Mars than Earth; these elements were probably pushed outward by the young Sun's energetic solar wind. After the formation of the planets, all were subjected to the so-called " Late Heavy Bombardment ". There is evidence of an enormous impact basin in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars, spanning 10, by 8, kilometres 6, by 5, mi , or roughly four times the size of the Moon's South Pole — Aitken basin , the largest impact basin yet discovered.
The geological history of Mars can be split into many periods, but the following are the three primary periods:  . Geological activity is still taking place on Mars. The Athabasca Valles is home to sheet-like lava flows created about Mya. Water flows in the grabens called the Cerberus Fossae occurred less than 20 Mya, indicating equally recent volcanic intrusions.
The Phoenix lander returned data showing Martian soil to be slightly alkaline and containing elements such as magnesium , sodium , potassium and chlorine. These nutrients are found in soils on Earth, and they are necessary for growth of plants. Streaks are common across Mars and new ones appear frequently on steep slopes of craters, troughs, and valleys. The streaks are dark at first and get lighter with age.
The streaks can start in a tiny area, then spread out for hundreds of metres. They have been seen to follow the edges of boulders and other obstacles in their path. The commonly accepted theories include that they are dark underlying layers of soil revealed after avalanches of bright dust or dust devils. Landforms visible on Mars strongly suggest that liquid water has existed on the planet's surface. Huge linear swathes of scoured ground, known as outflow channels , cut across the surface in about 25 places.
These are thought to be a record of erosion caused by the catastrophic release of water from subsurface aquifers, though some of these structures have been hypothesized to result from the action of glaciers or lava.
It is thought to have been carved by flowing water early in Mars's history. Features of these valleys and their distribution strongly imply that they were carved by runoff resulting from precipitation in early Mars history. Subsurface water flow and groundwater sapping may play important subsidiary roles in some networks, but precipitation was probably the root cause of the incision in almost all cases. Along crater and canyon walls, there are thousands of features that appear similar to terrestrial gullies.
A number of authors have suggested that their formation process involves liquid water, probably from melting ice,   although others have argued for formation mechanisms involving carbon dioxide frost or the movement of dry dust. Further evidence that liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars comes from the detection of specific minerals such as hematite and goethite , both of which sometimes form in the presence of water. This forms only in the presence of acidic water, which demonstrates that water once existed on Mars.
In , radar data revealed the presence of large quantities of water ice at the poles  and at mid-latitudes. On 18 March , NASA reported evidence from instruments on the Curiosity rover of mineral hydration , likely hydrated calcium sulfate , in several rock samples including the broken fragments of "Tintina" rock and "Sutton Inlier" rock as well as in veins and nodules in other rocks like "Knorr" rock and "Wernicke" rock.
Researchers suspect that much of the low northern plains of the planet were covered with an ocean hundreds of meters deep, though this remains controversial.
This finding was derived from the ratio of water to deuterium in the modern Martian atmosphere compared to that ratio on Earth. The amount of Martian deuterium is eight times the amount that exists on Earth, suggesting that ancient Mars had significantly higher levels of water.
Results from the Curiosity rover had previously found a high ratio of deuterium in Gale Crater , though not significantly high enough to suggest the former presence of an ocean. Other scientists caution that these results have not been confirmed, and point out that Martian climate models have not yet shown that the planet was warm enough in the past to support bodies of liquid water.
Near the northern polar cap is the In February , it was found that dark streaks called recurring slope lineae RSL , which appear seasonably, are caused by briny water flowing for a few days annually.
Mars has two permanent polar ice caps. These seasonal actions transport large amounts of dust and water vapor, giving rise to Earth-like frost and large cirrus clouds. Clouds of water-ice were photographed by the Opportunity rover in Frozen carbon dioxide accumulates as a comparatively thin layer about one metre thick on the north cap in the northern winter only, whereas the south cap has a permanent dry ice cover about eight metres thick.
This permanent dry ice cover at the south pole is peppered by flat floored, shallow, roughly circular pits , which repeat imaging shows are expanding by meters per year; this suggests that the permanent CO 2 cover over the south pole water ice is degrading over time.
The southern polar cap has a diameter of kilometres mi and a thickness of 3 kilometres 1. The seasonal frosting of areas near the southern ice cap results in the formation of transparent 1-metre-thick slabs of dry ice above the ground.
With the arrival of spring, sunlight warms the subsurface and pressure from subliming CO 2 builds up under a slab, elevating and ultimately rupturing it. This leads to geyser-like eruptions of CO 2 gas mixed with dark basaltic sand or dust. This process is rapid, observed happening in the space of a few days, weeks or months, a rate of change rather unusual in geology — especially for Mars.
The gas rushing underneath a slab to the site of a geyser carves a spiderweb-like pattern of radial channels under the ice, the process being the inverted equivalent of an erosion network formed by water draining through a single plughole.
They began by establishing that most of Mars's surface features were permanent and by more precisely determining the planet's rotation period. Today, features on Mars are named from a variety of sources.
Albedo features are named for classical mythology. Craters larger than 60 km are named for deceased scientists and writers and others who have contributed to the study of Mars. Craters smaller than 60 km are named for towns and villages of the world with populations of less than , Large valleys are named for the word "Mars" or "star" in various languages; small valleys are named for rivers.
Large albedo features retain many of the older names but are often updated to reflect new knowledge of the nature of the features. The paler plains covered with dust and sand rich in reddish iron oxides were once thought of as Martian "continents" and given names like Arabia Terra land of Arabia or Amazonis Planitia Amazonian plain.
The largest dark feature seen from Earth is Syrtis Major Planum. After the spacecraft Mariner 9 provided extensive imagery of Mars in , a small crater later called Airy-0 , located in the Sinus Meridiani "Middle Bay" or "Meridian Bay" , was chosen by Merton Davies of the Rand Corporation  for the definition of 0. Because Mars has no oceans and hence no " sea level ", a zero-elevation surface had to be selected as a reference level; this is called the areoid  of Mars, analogous to the terrestrial geoid.
For mapping purposes, the United States Geological Survey divides the surface of Mars into thirty cartographic quadrangles , each named for a classical albedo feature it contains. The quadrangles can be seen and explored via the interactive image map below.
The dichotomy of Martian topography is striking: northern plains flattened by lava flows contrast with the southern highlands, pitted and cratered by ancient impacts.
Research in has presented evidence regarding a theory proposed in postulating that, four billion years ago, the Northern Hemisphere of Mars was struck by an object one-tenth to two-thirds the size of Earth's Moon. If validated, this would make the Northern Hemisphere of Mars the site of an impact crater 10, by 8, kilometres 6, by 5, mi in size, or roughly the area of Europe, Asia, and Australia combined, surpassing the South Pole—Aitken basin as the largest impact crater in the Solar System.
Mars is scarred by a number of impact craters: a total of 43, craters with a diameter of 5 kilometres 3. Mars is located closer to the asteroid belt , so it has an increased chance of being struck by materials from that source. Mars is more likely to be struck by short-period comets , i. Martian craters can have a morphology that suggests the ground became wet after the meteor impacted. The shield volcano Olympus Mons Mount Olympus is an extinct volcano in the vast upland region Tharsis , which contains several other large volcanoes.
Olympus Mons is roughly three times the height of Mount Everest , which in comparison stands at just over 8. The large canyon, Valles Marineris Latin for " Mariner Valleys", also known as Agathadaemon in the old canal maps , has a length of 4, kilometres 2, mi and a depth of up to 7 kilometres 4. The length of Valles Marineris is equivalent to the length of Europe and extends across one-fifth the circumference of Mars.