Last week we learned a little bit about our planet, Earth! This Friday we’re going to learn about Mars!
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It is 142 million miles away from it. Remember that Earth is 93 million miles away and Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, is only 36 million miles away. It is half the size of Earth. It has a thin atmosphere made up of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) and argon (Ar). This makes it difficult for liquid water to exist. As of now, Mars cannot support life as we know it.
One day on Mars is a little over 24 hours, so it’s very similar to our day. That’s when the similarities end, however. A year on Mars is 687 Earth days long. The planet does experience seasons because of its tilt but the seasons vary in length due to a slightly elliptical orbit. This means that the planet has varying distances from the sun throughout its year. Generally, however, Mars’ seasons are twice as long as Earth’s.
Mars, like Venus and Earth, is a terrestrial, or rocky, planet. Mars is known as the Red Planet because of the reddish soil. The soil gets its color from the iron minerals in it rusting. It is the home of the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Temperatures range from -225 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees. Mars has two polar ice caps which grow and recede with the seasons.
This is the planet that the NASA rover, Curiosity, is hanging out on! Not only Curiosity though, there have been many rovers to land and explore our neighboring planet.
So let’s do a quick recap.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It has a thin atmosphere and an elliptical orbit. It is known as the Red Planet because of the reddish soil. It has the largest volcano in the solar system.
This information was taken from NASA’s Solar System Exploration site.