Mars was formed around 4.5 billion years ago and is the fourth planet from the sun, but only the second smallest planet in our entire solar system.
It was discovered in 1609 by Galileo Galilee, the first person to see Mars through a telescope. It was named after the Roman God of War and has the nickname the “Red Planet”. These are just a few interesting facts about Mars, but there is a lot more to learn and it grows by the day.
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We’re putting on our astronomy hat to share with you 15 facts about this amazing planet:
- Mars gets its nickname the “Red Planet” because of the iron-rich dust which stains its landscape a rusty red colour
- If you weigh for e.g. 150 pounds on Earth, you would only weigh 57 pounds on Mars and would be able to jump about 3 times as high, because it’s gravity is 38% that of Earth (lucky Martians!)
- If you lived on Mars, 1 day would equal to 24 hours and 40 minutes and 1 year is equal to 687 Earth days
- Because Mars tilts on it’s axis, it has seasons just like we have here on Earth
- Dust storms can last months and can cover the whole planet (yikes!)
- Water actually used to flow on the surface of Mars
- The distance between Mars and Earth can be anything from 34 million miles (55 million kilometres), to 249 million miles (401 million kilometres). This is because Earth’s orbit (distance) around the sun is shorter
- Mars has a mountain called Olympus Mons and is 3 times larger than Mount Everest
- Mars has 2 moons called Phobos and Deimos. Scientists have discovered that over time Phobos has been moving closer to Mars and will eventually crash into the planet
- It has been suggested that life used to exist on Mars and may still do today due to certain bacteria found on the surface. Where is this life located? It is still unknown, but it is most likely to be found in warm pockets beneath the ground
- It’s temperature ranges from a rather chilly -140c to a moderate 20c
- The largest canyon on Mars would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles if it were located here on Earth
- Mars’ surface is very complex. It has much bigger and wider canyons, mountains and volcanoes than found on Earth
- Mars has two polar caps (north and south), made up of water, ice and carbon dioxide
- Although Mars is much smaller than Earth, it’s surface area is actually about the same as the land surface area of Earth.