Mars Fast Facts


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NASA launched spacecrafts Viking 1 and Viking 2 in 1975 to study the Martian surface and gather important information about its composition and structure. Viking 1 captured the first photograph of Mars taken from its surface on July 20, 1976.
Mars is referred to as the “Red Planet” because its surface contains high levels of iron oxide, which makes it appear reddish.

    Side by side comparison of the size of Mars and Earth. Mars is 4220 miles vs. Earth is 7926 miles.
    Unlike the Earth, Martian sunsets are blue.
    Mars orbital plane is off from Earth by 1.85 degrees which is why why we see the north polar cap sometimes and the southern polar cap at other times.  Jupiter is 6.09 degrees off Earth’s plane.

      Mars is the only other planet besides Earth that has polar ice caps. The northern cap is called the Planum Boreum, with Planum Australe in the south. Liquid water may have existed in the past, but the planet is now in an ice age, so all water is frozen.

        Author Jonathan Swift wrote about Mars’ two moons in his book Gulliver’s Travels after Aries sons’ Terror and Panic. 151 years later, Asaph Hall discovered the moons, which are named Phobos and Deimos. In honor of Swift, many of the geographical features on Phobos are named after people and places in Gulliver’s Travels.

          Mars orbits the Sun along a unique orbital path, an elongated ellipse that is more oval-shaped than that of the other inner planets. This extreme orbit causes Mars’ famous dust storms. These huge and fierce storms are the largest in the solar system and can last for many months. Hopefully the current dust storm breaks up for the opposition.
          Mars is home to the solar system’s tallest known mountain, Olympus Mons, and the longest and the deepest canyon, Valles Marineris.