Mars facts and figures
Mars is the fourth planet after the Sun, and the second-smallest planet in our solar system. Mars was named after the Roman god war and is often called the "Red Planet" because of its reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet that has a thin atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide.
Mars and Earth share approximately the same landmass.
Mars is only 15% larger than Earth and has just over 10% more mass. However, water covers around two-thirds of Earth's surface. Martian surface gravity is 37% less than Earth's, meaning you could jump nearly three times as high on Mars.
The tallest mountain on Mars is located in the solar system.
Olympus Mons is a shield volcano that measures 21 km high and 600km wide. Scientists believe that Olympus Mons could still be active, despite it being formed over billions and billions of years. Evidence from volcanic lava flows shows that it may have been formed in the last few decades.
Only 18 Mars missions have been completed successfully.
There have been 40 Mars missions as of September 2014. This includes orbiters, landers, rovers, and flybys. Most recent arrivals are the Mars Curiosity mission (2012), the MAVEN missions, which arrived September 22, 2014. They were followed by the Indian Space Research Organization's MOM Mangalyaan orbiter, which arrived September 24, 2014. Next to arrive are the European Space Agency's ExoMars missions, which consist of an orbiter, landing craft, and a robot. NASA's InSight robotic lander mission is scheduled for launch in March 2016, with an expected arrival in September 2016.
Mars is home to the most severe dust storms in our solar system.
They can cover entire planets for several months. Because its orbital path around Sun is more extended than other planets in solar system, the seasons can be extreme.
The Sun on Mars appears half as big as Earth's.
The Martian south hemisphere is closest to the Sun. This causes a short, intensely heat summer. However, the northern hemisphere experiences a cold winter. At its farthest point, the Martian north hemisphere tilts towards the Sun. This results in a long, mild Summer.
Mars pieces have been brought to Earth in small pieces.
Scientists discovered tiny traces martian atmosphere in meteorites that were violently ejected by Mars. These meteorites orbited the solar system with galactic debris for millions years before crashing landing on Earth. This allowed scientists to study Mars before launching space missions.
Mars gets its name from the Roman god war.
The planet Ares was named by the ancient Greeks after their god of War. The Romans did the same, associating Mars' blood-red colour to the planet. Other ancient cultures were also interested in colour. For example, the Chinese astronomers called it 'the firestar' while Egyptian priests called for 'Her Desher' or 'the Red One'. Iron-rich rock and dust cover Mars' surface, which is why it is red.
Mars has signs of liquid water.
Mars has had water in the form ice for years. Dark streaks or stains seen in satellite images on the crater walls and cliffs are the first signs of water trickling. This water must be salty because it will not freeze or vaporize due to Mars' atmosphere.
Mars will one day have a ring.
The next 20-40 million year span will see Mars' largest moon Phobos being torn apart. This will lead to the creation of a ring which could last for up to 100 millions years.
Blue sunsets are common on Mars.
The martian day is marked by a pinkish-red sky, which is opposite to the Earth's.