10 Facts About Mars
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10 Facts About Mars – the Last Terrestrial Planet
Mars has long been part of Human’s fascination, mythology, fear, imagination and even pop culture. From ancient times and the big red dot in the sky, which they appropriately named after the Roman god of war, to modern day Martians and the 1938 Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds radio broadcast.
We’ve always known something was special about Mars, but it wasn’t until very recently in our history that we’ve had the technology to explore this ever-intriguing planet, 4th from the Sun and last of the terrestrial planets.
Back in 1610, Galileo Galilei was the first to use a telescope to observe Mars and ever since we’ve been obsessed with the history and possibilities that this planet holds. With long canals, faces in rocks, pyramid-shaped megaliths and even the possibility of water ice; has this planet hosted intelligent life, could its atmosphere be shaped and influenced to host life now or in the near future?
Those are the sort of questions we’ve all asked and have us leaning on the edges of our seats. Before we go on an alien hunt, let’s take a look at 10 Facts About Mars and see what this infographic has in store for us!
Second Only to the Runt.
- Mars is the last of the terrestrial planets, 4th from the Sun, but not the smallest. Second to only Mercury, Mars is a pretty small planet compared to the others and even the terrestrial planets. Mars is 0.107 times the mass of Earth, its diameter is 4,212 miles, its radius is 2,106 miles and has a circumference of 13,263 miles.
Less than 50% Success Rate.
- Since the early days of space exploration, there have been 40 missions to Mars (not including flybys). Of these 40 missions, only 18 have been successful. With trial and error comes experience and we’re getting a lot better than we were. There are currently a few Mars missions in the works; the European Space Agency (ESA), Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA JPL) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (United Arab Emirates) all have missions in the works heading to Mars starting 2016.
The Tallest Mountains in the Solar System.
- Olympus Mons is the tallest mountain range in the Solar System. It’s a little more than 13 miles tall and over 370 miles in diameter. It’s big enough to cover all of the state of New Mexico. Olympus Mons is an active volcano that keeps adding more and more mass to itself, continuing to get taller and larger! Mount Everest, Earth’s largest mountain is only 5.5 miles tall and 340 miles in diameter.
The Largest Canyon in the Solar System.
- Mars also has the largest canyon in the Solar System, too. Its Valles Marineris canyon is roughly 2,500 miles long, 120 miles wide and has depths as deep as 4.3 miles. That’s long enough to stretch from one side of Europe to the other. The Grand Canyon, Earth’s largest canyon, is only 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and almost 6,100 feet deep.
The Largest Dust Storms in the Solar System.
- OK, get ready to be blown away, Mars has the largest dust storms in the Solar System. Dust storms can be small which would be roughly the same size as a large state or small country on Earth. Big storms can cover the entire planet! These dust storms can last for several months at a time and are usually at their worst when Mars is closest to the Sun.
No Polar Bears, Just a Polar Basin.
- Another geological trophy for Mars, the largest basin in the Solar System is found on Mars! The Borealis basin is a geological depression in Mars’s landmass area, likely sunken from a massive meteor or asteroid impact. The Borealis basin is 4 times larger than the next largest basins in the Solar System; Utopia Planitia (Mars), Aitken basin (the Moon, Luna) or Hellas Planitia (Mars).
More Craters than a Teen with Acne.
- Mars has a staggering 635,000 or more craters on its surface. Mars has a very thin atmosphere, which means there isn’t much of a shield to protect itself from a large impact directly smashing into the surface on Mars. Mars is also closely located to the asteroid belt. Even though Mars has hundreds of thousands of craters, it’s still not as many as Earth’s Moon, Luna has!
H 2 OOOOwesome!
- Mars is the only other planet in the Solar System to have polar ice caps, the other being Earth, of course. The northern polar ice caps are named Planum Boreum, permanent ice caps made of mostly water ice. In the winter months a 3 foot thick layer of frozen carbon dioxide will form. The Planum Boreum ice caps are roughly 1,200,000 cubic kilometers of water ice and covers an area about 1.5 times the size of Texas. Its radius is 373 miles and has a maximum depth of 1.8 miles. The southern polar ice caps are named Planum Australe and are also mostly water ice with frozen carbon dioxide. They are about 2 miles thick and increase in thickness during the winter season. If these polar ice caps melted, they’d cover the entire planet in about 36 feet deep of water.
Half the Sun of Earth.
- Mars is about twice as far from the Sun as the Earth is. If you were watching a sunrise, the Sun would look to be about half the size it is on Earth. Mars takes 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun, making the seasons on Mars twice as long as they are on Earth. Even though Mars is much further from the Sun, it has a very similar length of day to the Earth; 24 hours and 37 minutes.
A Small But Present Atmosphere.
- Atmospheres are critical for life, Scientists and Astronomers believe that Mars once had a much larger atmosphere in its distant past, which is one of the main arguments behind the theory for Mars having once hosted life. The atmosphere on Mars today is mostly made up of roughly 96% carbon dioxide, 2% argon and 2% nitrogen and small, small traces of oxygen and water. Scientists and Astronomers believe that there are 2 central locations on Mars which produce methane, which does about 270 tonnes of production each year.
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