Space is never short of possibilities. If you are a curious mind, learning about the outer world is one thing that surely fascinates you. We are already astonished by what little we know about the space. Beyond our world, there is so much that we are unaware of.
To start exploring the outer world, a start from what is closest to our planet is a great idea. Mars is an attraction for researchers and scientists. Being our celestial neighbor, the planet has so many facts that will surprise you.
Here are the 25 intriguing facts about Mars that will calm your curiosity about space and the universe! Let us get started with the 25 crazy facts about Mars.
1. How Did the Planet Get Its Name
Mars is one of the planets to be easily spotted in the night sky as a bright red spot. One of the interesting facts about Mars is that the name represents the color of the planet, the bright red hues. The planet gets its name from the dominant red color. Associating the red color and mythology, the planet was named the red planet. The red color of Mars was anciently associated with bloodshed and war. Hence the planet was named after the god of War, Mars.
2. The Red Planet
If we spot Mars from a distance, the planet has a reddish appearance. The abundance of minerals in its rocks, soil, and dust gives the planet its characteristic red color. The soil of Mars is rich in iron and iron oxides providing the planet a red color if looked at from a distance. The abundance of iron in Martian soil oxidizes the iron particles. This results in the accumulation of iron oxide particles or rust, which gives the surface of the planet a red appearance. The iron particles, when suspended in the atmosphere of Mars, make the Martian sky look orangish-red.
3. The Size of Mars
Mars is one of the smallest planets in the solar system. In fact, it is the second smallest planet in the solar system, after Mercury. The planet has a diameter of 4,212 miles or 6,794 km. To make the size comparison more practical, let us understand it by comparing its size with different planets of the solar system. Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system, is 30% less wide than Mars. If the size of Mars to that of Earth is compared, it is concluded that Mars is approximately half the size of Earth in diameter.
4. The 4th Planet
Our solar system has eight planets, excluding Pluto. Mars is the fourth planet orbiting around the sun. Mars comes after Mercury, Venus, and Earth when their distance from the sun is compared. Additionally, Mars is also the outermost planet among the inner planets (planets that have a shorter orbit, i.e., Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars). Rocky planets are planets that dominantly have rocky surfaces. The fourth planet also is adjacent to the asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
5. The Moons of Mars
Moons are natural satellites that revolve around a planet. Similar to the Earth has a moon, Mars has two moons revolving around the planet. The two moons of Mars are Phobos and Deimos. Out of the two moons, Phobos is the larger of the two moons revolving around Mars. The two moons of Mars are supposedly asteroids. The larger moon, Phobos, orbits the planet about three times a day, whereas Deimos orbits in about 30 hours. Unlike the Earth’s moon, the moons of planet Mars are aspherical. It is estimated that Phobos, orbiting nearer to the planet, will collide with the planet in the next 50 million years.
6. Mars Compared with Earth
If we compare Mars with our planet, we can see the significant differences in both planets. The radius of Earth is almost double the radius of Mars. If we ditch the size, one of the interesting facts about Mars is that it will take approximately 6.5 planets like Mars to fit Earth. Despite Mars being half the size of Earth, the reason for this is the high density of Earth. Mars makes up 15% of the volume of Earth because of its lower density. Mars and Earth have a lot of differences. The atmosphere, soil composition, climate, temperature, habitability, there is so much difference between the two planets.
7. Gravity of Mars
Gravitational force makes the fundamentals of the solar system and the whole universe. Just like the sun keeps all the planets in their orbits, each of the planets has its individual gravitational pull. The gravitational pull of a celestial body will depend on its mass, density, size, and proximity to other celestial bodies. Mars has relatively less gravity as compared to the gravity of Earth (around 38% of the Earth’s gravity). This means if you weigh 100 pounds on the Earth’s surface, your weight on Mars will only be 38 pounds. If we compare the gravity of Mars and the moon, Mars has a stronger gravitational pull than Earth’s moon.
8. Olympus Mons: The Biggest Volcano of the Solar System
Olympus Mons is a volcano found on the surface of Mars. One of the interesting facts about Mars is that its volcano, Olympus Mons, is the largest volcano in the solar system. Let us get an idea about the size of the volcano by comparing its volume with the Earth’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa. The volume of Mauna Loa is about 100 times less than that of Olympus Mons. Three times the height of Mt. Everest is how tall Mars’s Volcano, Olympus Mons is. The reason why it is the largest volcano in the solar system is explained by the difference in gravity between Mars and the slow-moving tectonic plates.
9. A Martian Day
A Martian day is called Sol, and a Sol is almost similar to an Earth’s day. Let us begin with understanding what a day is. A day for any planet is the time taken to rotate on its axis. In simpler words, the concept of the day can be explained by the time Sun takes to return to the same position in the sky as a planet. Like Earth has a day of 24 hours, a day on Mars will have 24 hours and 40 minutes. This concludes that a day on Mars will just be 40 minutes longer than a day here. A longer day on Mars can be explained by the slower spinning of the planet about its axis.
10. Is Mars Hot or Cold?
Mars is a relatively cold planet. Where our planet has an average temperature of 14 degrees Celsius, the same for Mars is -63 degree Celsius. The two reasons that explain a drop in temperature in comparison to Earth are its distance from the Sun and its atmosphere. The distance between Mars and the Sun is greater when compared with Earth. The second reason for a cooler temperature on Mars is its atmosphere. Earth has an atmosphere; its pressure makes the retention of heat easier. At the same time, the atmosphere of Mars has low pressure, approximately 1/6th times that of Earth. This results in the escape of heat easily, causing a drop in temperature.
11. Dust Storms
One of the interesting facts about Mars is that it gets battered by storms similar to Earth. Dust storms are common on Mars. The heating of the Martian surface makes the hot air rise which takes along the dust from the surface. Dust storms are more frequent in summers on Mars (Yes, Mars has seasons just like the Earth). Unlike Earth, dust storms on Mars can arise from any place. On Earth, only 1/3rd of the planet’s area is covered in sand and dust, which makes dust storms restricted to certain regions. The dust storms of Mars are less potent, but they can stay for longer because of the reduced gravity of the planet.
12. How Long is A Year on Mars
A Sol is similar to an Earth’s day, but the difference of a Martian year is significant. One day is the rotation of a planet on its axis, whereas one year is the time it takes to revolve around the sun. For Mars, it takes 687 days to complete one revolution around the sun, almost double of an Earth’s year. Whereas for Earth, a year is equal to 365 days, revolving at a speed of 67000 miles per hour. The longer revolution time can be explained by the fact that it is far away from the sun. Additionally, Mars is comparatively slower than Earth. A longer year on Mars corresponds to more months (24 months of 27 or 28 days) and longer seasons than Earth.
13. Surviving on Mars
If you often daydream of going to Mars, don’t miss imagining yourself wearing a spacesuit! The reason for this is that the atmosphere of Mars has insufficient oxygen for survival. It will take less than two minutes for a person to die on Martian land without a spacesuit. The Martian atmosphere has 95.9 % carbon dioxide, 3% of nitrogen, and 1.6% of Argon. The traces of oxygen does not even add up to make a complete 1% of the atmosphere, questioning the survival on Mars. The atmosphere makes one of the unique facts about Mars because the atmosphere is relatively thinner.
14. Have Humans Been to Mars?
One of the fun facts about Mars is that only uncrewed spacecraft have been sent to Mars till now. NASA claims that in the early 2030s, a human may land on Mars. Robotic rovers and landers have been sent to the planet to understand the planet better. For landing on the planet, technological innovation, knowledge of the human body, travel, and adapting to Martian conditions are the limitations for now. Landing on Mars is another challenge in developing a travel strategy to Mars. In total, six rovers have been sent to the planet for exploration and gathering information. Currently, three rovers are active on Mars (Curiosity, Perseverance, and Zhurong).
15. Water on Mars?
Researchers have found water on the red planet in its polar caps. But will the water aid in the survival of humans? It is assumed that Mars in the past had abundant water. The planet had rivers flowing, but it all dried out in the course of time. The rovers sent to Mars have affirmed the presence of water. But does the presence of water mean we could survive there in the coming future? If we, for once, avoid other factors and solely consider water, it still will not be sufficient for our survival. The water has salts making it non-usable for humans. But the presence of water could indicate microscopic life thriving on the planet or a history of life on Mars.
16. Mars Rovers
Mars Rovers have been crucial in obtaining information about the planet. Six Mars rovers have successfully landed on the red planet. Sojourner was the first Mars rover sent by scientists using Pathfinder. The five Mars rovers sent by NASA are Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance. One of the Chinese Mars rovers, Zhurong, is still active and searching for water on the red planet. Rovers have been helpful in exploring the planet and successfully gathered a lot of data, including images, chemical analysis, analyzing samples, and searching for traces of past or current life forms.
17. Seasons of Mars
One of the fascinating facts about Mars is that, just like Earth, it also has four seasons. The four seasons of Mars are similar to that of Earth, i.e., winter, spring, summer, and fall. The elliptical orbit of the planet makes seasons and weather more complex. Because the planet has an elongated and elliptical orbit, rendering two seasons more, aphelion and perihelion. Although the seasons are similar to Earth’s seasons, the duration of Martian seasons is relatively longer. This is explained by the longer time Mars takes to revolve around the sun.
18. Is Mars Just Red?
Mars is popularly known as the red planet because of its red color. The red color is the dominant color of Mars. The reason for the red color is the abundance of iron oxide on the rocks. The facts about Mars will mostly focus on the red or orange color of the planet. But, the planet has hues other than just the red shades. Some of the parts of the planets appear white because of ice deposition. Silica deposits can also render a different color to the planet’s surface. But, expect the planet to mostly have hues in orange, brown, and gold shades.
19. Biggest Canyon
Not only Mars has the largest volcano in the solar system, but the Martian canyon, Valles Marineris, is the biggest in the solar system. Extending over a length of 3000 kilometers, 600 kilometers wide, and 8 kilometers deep, making it the largest canyon on the solar planet. Currently, the geological processes of the canyon have grabbed the attention of researchers. It is hypothesized that the canyon is a crack in the tectonic crust caused by the cooling of the planet. Formed about 3.5 billion years ago, the erosional forces gradually made the canyon widen. The presence of a river over the canyon is one of the assumptions of the scientists.
20. Oxygen on Mars
Oxygen is crucial for our survival. And it is not just us humans who depend on oxygen. Most life forms can not survive without oxygen. Facts about Mars, when we consider its atmosphere, is that the habitability of Mars is not possible. With just 0.2% oxygen present on the planet, it will be impossible to survive. Well, if you carry a spacesuit, then there are good chances that you might survive. The atmosphere dominantly has carbon dioxide (96 % of the total air). There are some experiments based on converting the planet’s carbon dioxide to oxygen to make survival possible in the future.21. Polar Ice Caps
Mars has two permanent ice caps, called Planum Boreum (north) and Planum Australe (south). The polar caps are primarily composed of frozen water but also have dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). The change in seasons makes the ice caps vary by contracting and expanding. The Martian polar caps are crucial for research purposes. It can tell more about the history of the climate and water. Adding to that, the polar ice caps of Mars can also help to understand the climate dynamics of the planet better. Certain assumptions believe the presence of buried glaciers. One discovery is that the ice caps of Mars are shrinking because the frozen carbon dioxide is turning into vapor.
22. Mars on Earth
It sounds interesting if you hear that Earth has a bit of Mars in it, right? It might be partly true. Some of the Martian rocks have reached Earth as meteoroids. They are formed from Martian rocks and have provided insights about foreign planets. How did the bits of Mars travel to the Earth? The Martian surface being struck by an asteroid or comet is one of the explanations that explain the rocks reaching the earth against Martian gravitational pull. The less intense gravitational pull and thinner atmosphere just facilitate the ejection of the rocks.
23. Liquid Water Can Not Exist for Long
What if we somehow managed to supply water to the red planet? Or the scientists could somehow produce water on the planet itself? The efforts will be wasted because water can not exist in its liquid state on the planet. Out of everything we know about Mars, one of the intriguing facts is that liquid water can not exist for long on Mars. With the lower temperature and thin atmosphere, the water will either evaporate (because of the thin atmosphere) or sublimate ( because of the lower temperature on the planet). The chances of water sublimating are more than water evaporating on Mars.
24. Mars Could Have Been Earth-Like
The Martian surface is now inhabitable, but was it always a barren planet? It is believed that Mars had a climate and atmosphere similar to that of the Earth. Studies claim that Mars was a habitable planet in the past. In the early days, the assumed atmosphere of the planet was thick, making it suitable for life to sustain. It is assumed that the thinning of the atmosphere and the drop in temperature caused water (a necessity for life) to be unstable in the liquid state. The loss of atmosphere is also predicted to affect the magnetic field and gravitational forces of the planet.
25. Is Mars and Earth Similar?
The facts about Mars have talked about all the differences between both planets. But is Mars similar to our planet? Compared to other planets of the solar system, Mars and Earth, both are similar. Not every aspect of both planets is the same, but the valleys, mountains, seasons, ice caps, and volcanoes make both planets similar. The axial tilt of Mars, just like Earth, results in seasons. A Martian day also has a similar timeline to a day on Earth.
Mars, the red planet, has been of great interest to everybody. The planet sits next to Earth in the solar system and has significant differences. The red color of the planet makes it unique. If we compare Mars with our planet, there are differences in size, gravity, atmosphere, and distance from the Earth.
The length of a day and year varies with that of Earth. The planet has the largest volcano and canyon in the solar system. Dust storms are another interesting part of the planet. The planet is assumed to have sustained life in the past. But, at present, Mars can not support life. Humans might land on the planet in the next decade, but survival on Mars is a dead end.