Cool Facts About Mars
tl;dr: check out our 10 Facts About Mars Infographic.
We’ve been making our way through the Solar System and learning all sorts of new and cool facts about the planets, if you’ve missed the others, check these out when you get a chance: Mercury, Venus and Earth!
Mars is a special planet, this one’s close to us and we’ve felt a strong connection to what we have believed to be a planet which either did or does support life. We even believe that Mars was likely covered with water oceans, much like here on Earth in its distant past.
Ever heard of a Martian? Can you guess where these aliens might have come from? Yeah, Mars and they’ve become such a huge part of our history and culture that we’ve poured billions of dollars into photographing, researching and even visiting this planet.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the last of the terrestrial planets; planets made of rocky materials. The red planet was so appropriately named after the Roman god of war, stained red from the blood of battle.
In this article, we’re going to learn about some very Cool Facts About Mars and what intrigued us humans so much that a large part of our pop culture comes from the fictitious inhabitants of Mars.
Mars’s Planetary Profile:
- Planetary Mass: 641,693,000,000,000 billion kg (0.107 x Earth)
- Planetary Diameter: 4,212 miles
- Planetary Radius: 2,106 miles
- Planetary Circumference: 13,263 miles
- Planetary Moons: Phobos and Deimos
- Average Solar Orbital Distance: 41,637,725 miles
- Solar Orbit Period: 686.98 Earth days
- Planetary Surface Temperature: Average -81 degrees Fahrenheit
- First Record of Mars: 1900 BC
- Recorded By: The Egyptians
- Distance From Earth: 34 – 249 Million Miles
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #1:
Second Only to the Runt.
Mars might be the second smallest planet, but it’s still one of our favorites. Mercury is now the smallest planet, since 2006 when we gave Pluto the ol’ boot.
Mercury is 0.055 times the mass of Earth, Mars is 0.107 times the mass of Earth, Pluto is 0.00218 times the mass of Earth.
Mercury’s planetary diameter is 3,032 miles, Mars’s diameter is 4,212 miles, Pluto’s diameter is 1,473 miles.
Mercury’s planetary radius is 1,516 miles, Mars’s radius is 2,106 miles, Pluto’s radius is 736 miles.
Mercury’s planetary circumference is 9,525 miles, Mars’s circumference is 13,263 miles, 4,494 miles.
It doesn’t matter if Mars is the smallest, second smallest or what, it will always and forever be our favorite planet to the Martians.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #2:
Less than 50% Success Rate.
Ending in 2014, there have been 40 missions to Mars. Note, this does not include flyby missions. This only includes orbiters, landers and rovers. For a complete list of missions to Mars, check this out.
Of those 40 missions, only 18 have been successful. It’s literally one of the most difficult planets to visit, for a number of reasons. However, with trial and error comes experience and we’re becoming better, with a much higher success rate.
In 2011, NASA’s Mars Curiosity successfully landed, followed by India’s space program, Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013. Most recently, in late 2013, NASA followed up the Curiosity rover with the MAVEN lander.
Future missions include an European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA) collaboration with the ExoMars orbiter and lander in 2016.
Another 2016 mission to Mars includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s research and development division, who will be sending a robotic lander, named InSight.
In 2018, the last of the ExoMars mission will conclude with an orbiter being sent to Mars, again, by the ESA and RFSA.
Last, but not least, in 2020 Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (the space program of the United Arab Emirates) is sending the Mars Hope orbiter.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #3:
The Tallest Mountains in the Solar System.
Olympus Mons, which is actually a volcano, is a little more than 13 miles tall and over 370 miles in diameter, making it the tallest mountain in the Solar System. This is large enough to cover the entire state of New Mexico.
The volcano has been active and erupting for billions of years, which is one of the reasons the mountain is so large. It just keeps adding and adding mass to itself. Scientists believe that the volcano is still active, which means that it’s making it that much more difficult for the Earth’s tallest mountain to catch up; Mount Everest.
To put this into perspective, Mount Everest is the Earth’s tallest mountain. It is almost 5.5 miles tall and only 340 miles in diameter.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #4:
The Largest Canyon in the Solar System.
Well, much like the trophy Mars has for the tallest mountain in the Solar System, it also has the trophy for the largest canyon in the Solar System.
Valles Marineris is the largest canyon in the Solar System, it’s roughly 2,500 miles long, 120 miles wide and has depths as deep as 4.3 miles. That’s basically as long as Europe.
To put this into perspective, Earth’s canyon gem, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and has depths as deep as slightly over a mile, 6,093 feet.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #5:
The Largest Dust Storms in the Solar System.
Can you believe it, another trophy on Mars’s shelf? Next to the tallest mountain in the Solar System, the largest canyon in the Solar System, it also has the largest dust storms in the Solar System. What’s next?!?!
The dust storms on Mars can be a small, local one, which might be like… oh let’s say a state or a country sized dust storm. One the other hand, the dust storms on Mars can be a little bit larger and can cover the entire planet.
And don’t worry, these dust storms are just a quick little breeze that passes by and you’re ready to play outside after dinner. The dust storms on Mars can last for months. The dust storms are at their worst when Mars is closest to the Sun.
Additionally, Mars’s seasons are longer than Earth’s because of its elliptical orbital path around the Sun, making it more elongated than most the other planets.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #6:
No Polar Bears, Just a Polar Basin.
Get ready, cause you’re not going to believe me. Mars has yet another geological trophy; the Solar System’s largest basin; the Borealis basin.
A basin is a depression in geology, sunken or below the surrounding landmass area. These depressions can be caused by many different factors; erosion, geological collapses, sedimentary, structural or tectonic, impact related and a few others. However, Mar’s Borleais basin was most likely caused by a single impact.
The Borealis basin is extremely low, flat and relatively crater free. The Borealis basin is about 4 times as large as the next largest craters; Utopia Planitia (Mars), Aitken basin (the Moon, Luna) or Hellas Planitia (Mars).
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #7:
More Craters than a Teen with Acne.
Mars is chalked full of craters, all over its surface, like a teen-aged brat with a bad case of crater face. There are over 635,000 impact craters on the surface of Mars, making it one of the planets most covered in craters.
Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than the Earth does, making it more prone to collisions with meteorites. It’s also closer to the asteroid belt, making it an easier target to hit.
Though Mars is littered with craters, it still have fewer craters than our Moon. Even with Mars’s tiny atmosphere, it still protects it better than our Moons non-existent atmosphere.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #8:
H 2 OOOOwesome!
Mars is the only other planet in the Solar System to have polar ice caps, the other being Earth. Mars has an abundance of water, including water ice under these polar ice caps.
The polar ice caps in the north are called Planum Boreum. These are permanent ice caps and are made up of mostly water ice. During the winter season on Mars, there is a 3 foot thick veneer layer of carbon dioxide ice that forms over the top of the water ice. This polar ice cap has about 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 polar ice caps in the south are named Planum Australe. These polar ice caps are also permanent, made of mostly frozen water and carbon dioxide. Much like the polar ice caps to the north, the Planum Australe ice caps are about 2 miles thick during the warmer parts of the year and about another 0.6 miles of ice forms over the permanent ice during the winter months on Mars. These are made of roughly 85% dry ice and 15% water ice.
If the Planum Australe melted, it would cover the entire planet of Mars with water at a depth of about 36 feet.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #9:
Half the Sun of Earth.
Mars is about twice the distance from the Sun as Earth is, if you were standing on Mars watching a sunrise, it would appear to be about half the size as it is on Earth.
Because Mars is about twice the distance from the Sun, it takes 687 Earth days to orbit around the Sun, making the seasons on Mars twice as long as they are on Earth.
Regardless of the distance difference between Earth and Mars, a day on Mars is slightly longer than here on Earth; 24 hours and 37 minutes.
Cool Facts About Mars – Fact #10:
A Small But Present Atmosphere.
We all know that an atmosphere is essential for life. Scientists and Astronomers theorize that Mars had a much larger and stronger atmosphere in its past, which is one of the strongest points used to argue that Mars once hosted life.
Today, Mars has an atmosphere, but it’s pretty small… Nonetheless, it’s still noticeable and stronger in some areas than others. The atmosphere on Mars is made up of roughly 96% carbon dioxide, 2% argon and 2% nitrogen and small, small traces of oxygen and water.
Mars also has traces of methane detectable in its atmosphere, roughly 30 parts per billion. In some regions and during some parts of the year there is up to 19,000 metric tons of methane in the northern region. Scientists and Astronomers believe that there are two central sources for the production of methane on Mars and that production per year can be up to 270 tonnes.
Other Random Cool Facts About Mars:
- Mars has only 15% of the volume as Earth and 10% of its mass.
- Mars’s gravity is 37% that of Earths’, so you could jump 3 times as high.
- The dust storms on Mars can blow as fast as 125 miles per hour.
- There are pieces of Mars on Earth, one sample may have proof of microbial life on Mars in its past.
- Egyptian priests called Mars Her Desher, which translates to the Red One.
- Chinese Astronomers referred to Mars as the Fire Star.
- Mars is colored red because it is rich in iron oxide.
- The two moons of Mars were written about in Gulliver’s Travels… 151 years before they were discovered.
- Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field, but it likely did about 4 billion years ago.
- The “Face on Mars” gave belief that a human-like civilization once populated Mars, leaving behind an artifact. This was later proven to be a mirage.
- The month of March is named after Mars.
- It would take 271 years and 221 days to get to Mars if we built a highway and drove our cars there at 60 miles per hour.
- Mars was an extremely important part of Nicholas Copernicus’s argument that the Earth was not the center of the Universe.
- During winter, 20% of the air freezes on Mars.
- In about 50 million years, Phobos (one of Mars’s moons) will crash into Mars.
- in 1609, Galileo Galilee was the first person to view Mars through a telescope.
- In 1938, the infamous public broadcast by Orson Wells sparked fear all across the United States as be claimed Martians were taking over Earth.