Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is second smallest planet in the Solar System making it larger only than Mercury. Mars is one of the five planets visible to the naked eyes and it has been known to the astronomers since ancient times, it was first recorded by ancient Egyptian astronomers about 4000 years ago. Mars is often called the Red Planet because of it’s reddish color, modern astronomers know that Mars is red because of large amounts of iron oxide or rust in the rocks and dust on the surface but in ancient times people associated it’s red color with warfare and that is why Mars was named after the ancient Roman god of war. Mars is the last of the rocky planets of our inner Solar System and is about 141 million miles or more than 227 million kilometers from the Sun and so it gets less than half as much sunlight as the Earth does. Temperatures at the frozen poles of the Mars may dip as low as minus 143 degree celsius but at the equator it could get to 35 degree celsius. One reason behind such temperature difference is that while it has an atmosphere made mostly of carbon dioxide with tiny amounts of oxygen, it is very thin which prevents it from holding in much energy from the Sun. 
Mars has two moons namely Phobos and Deimos, these moons when compared to Mars or even our own moon are very very small, Phobos is the larger of the two and is only 14 miles or 22 kilometers across from it’s widest points. Because these moons are so small in size and mass they do not have enough gravity to pull themselves into spheres and that is why they are irregular. Scientists believe that they may be stray asteroids captured by Mars at some point in the past.
Olympus Mons

Something interesting about Mars is that it is home to the highest known mountain in the entire Solar System which is Olympus Mons. This volcano is more than three times higher than the tallest mountain on the Earth which is Mount Everest, Olympus Mons is so tall that it nearly reaches the top of Mars’s thin atmosphere. There is no liquid water on Mars but there are two polar ice caps made of large amounts of frozen water and sometimes there are even clouds made of water vapour much like on Earth. A day on Mars is very close to the same length as day on Earth, Mars rotates in 24 hours and 37 minutes which is only about 2.7% longer than the Earth does. Because Mars is farther from the Sun however, Mars takes much longer to travel once around the Sun than the Earth does, Mars takes almost 687 Earth days. Because Mars is so close to the Earth and is so similar in some ways people have wondered for a very long time if life could survive there or if something lived on Mars already.

Modern astronomers have not found any signs that anyone or anything has ever lived on Mars, if there was ever life on Mars it was probably only small simple kinds of life like bacteria. Now people are wondering if Mars could be made into a good place for humans to live. More than 50 space missions have sent to or close to Mars to gather more information about this fascinating red planet, there are currently 5 orbitors circling Mars and 2 rovers exploring it’s surface namely Curiosity and Opportunity rovers all sending data back to Earth. People want to try to go to Mars someday and it may even happen in next few decades, until then there is always more to learn about this exciting planet.     

Related Posts