59 Interesting Facts About Mars

Last updated on April 10th, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Our Solar system is vast and consists of many planets, moons, comets, asteroids, minor planets; and dust and gas. The main idea of our solar system was proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and he also proposed that the Sun is at the center of the universe while the planets revolved around it in circular orbits.

Let us uncover some important facts and information about planet Mars where human life can be expected to dwell in the coming years.

Fact 1. Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system after mercury. And it is the fourth planet from the sun.

“Sunsets on Mars are blue.”

Fact 2. Mars is also referred to as the “Red Planet” because it has high content of iron oxide which makes it appear reddish.

Fact 3. Mars has a thin atmosphere.

Fact 4. Mars has only two moons as compared to Uranus’ twenty seven. They are named: Phobos and Deimos. These moons are small and are irregularly shaped. (learn facts and information about Uranus)

Fact 5. The composition of the core of Mars is not yet known to scientists and the exploration work is going on. It is not certain as of now if the planet’s core is solid, liquid or is built of two different layers. The maximum pressure of Mar’s core is expected to be 400,000 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.

Fact 6. Density: If we compare the density of Mars with that of the Earth’s, we would find that it is 100 times less dense than Earth.

Fact 7. Mars has low atmospheric pressure on its surface which is the reason why liquid water cannot exist on its surface for long.

Fact 8. Mars takes twice the time Earth takes to complete a full revolution around the sun.

Fact 9. Did you know that the giant Jupiter has the ability to influence the orbit of Mars? Due to its immense mass, Jupiter brings some change in Mars’ orbit.

Fact 10. The orbit of Mars and Earth are also not in the same plane. There is a tilt of a few degrees between the orbits of the two neighboring planets.

“Olympus Mons — the tallest mountain in the solar system — is on Mars.”

Fact 11. “Opposition” is a situation when a planet and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of earth. In Mars opposition, Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth. Also learn the fact that the 2003 Opposition was the closest approach in almost 60,000 years! And as per calculations, this record will be broken in the year 2287.

Mars near Earth in 2003
Photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2003, the red planet 11 hours before its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. Image credit – NASA

Fact 12. Mars has sufficient ice on its polar regions, which can be seen clearly in the image below. If the ice on its south pole melts, the resulting water will be sufficient to cover the planet’s entire surface to a depth of 11 meters. Mars, in addition to Earth, is the only other planet that has polar ice caps. It’s Northern cap is called – Planum Boreum, and Southern cap is called – Planum Australe.

Fact 13. Solar Conjunction is the term used to describe the coming of Sun between the Earth and the Mars. When this happens, the communication between spacecraft on Mars, and the Earth drastically reduces.

Fact 14. Did you know that the ancient Babylonians first created the week and divided it into seven days? They named each day of the week upon the seven known bodies in the sky: the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. Hence, Tuesday is the day of Mars. Because of the red color of the planet, Mars is also associated with aggression.

Fact 15. The name of the month March also derives from Mars.

Fact 16. Mars is being explored for over four decades now because it is considered as a favorable place for human existence. And the signs of water on the planet has supported the belief that human life can exist on this red planet.

Fact 17. First interaction with Mars: Mariner 4, in 1965 was the first aircraft that flied by Mars. It took the spacecraft a whopping 228 days to reach the planet.

Fact 18. Many Hollywood films have been produced with Mars as their subject including: Flight to Mars – 1951, The Angry Red Planet – 1959 and the famous John Carter – 2012. See the full list here.

Fact 19. Mars can be spotted with the naked eye during the night time from the surface of earth, thanks to its reddish appearance. The apparent size and brightness of the planet varies depending on the proximity of the planet to the Earth.

Fact 20. The tallest mountain in the Solar SystemOlympus Mons – is on Mars. It is more than 21 km high (about three times taller than the Mt. Everest) and more than 600 km in diameter.

facts about Mars - Olympus Mons, the tallest known volcano and mountain
A composite Viking orbiter image of Olympus Mons on Mars, the tallest known volcano and mountain in the Solar System. Image credit – NASA

Fact 21. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) also set their orbiter for Mars safely on 24th September 2014. By doing so, India became the first country in the world to set a spacecraft into Mars’ orbit in its first attempt. The mission was launched on November 5th, 2013.

“Mars takes 687 Earth days to complete one revolution around the Sun.”

Fact 22. Scientists have had the chance to study the pieces of rocks from Mars that landed on Earth. The rock pieces orbited the solar system for millions of years and finally crash landed on the Earth.

Fact 23. 1960 – the first spacecraft on mission to Mars was launched. However, the mission failed. 

Fact 24. Mars is at a distance of more than 142 million miles from the Sun.

Also read: facts about Jupiter

Fact 25. Mars is a very cold planet. The average temperature on Mars stays around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s below freezing point.

Fact 26. Due to the presence of red dust on the planet, which is mainly its iron content; mars sometime sees dust storms when the wind blows. These dust storms can be humongous and can cover the planet’s entire surface. Interestingly, these dust storms are sometime visible by telescopes from the Earth. Wondering how fast winds in these storms move? Note that 60 miles per hour is the top speed of the winds blowing in some of the strongest Martian storms. Moreover, due to less atmospheric pressure on Mars than Earth, things get blown but the intensity is not that much as on earth with the same wind speed.

Fact 27. Mars’ gravitational force is weaker than that of the earth by 66%. Thus, anything would weight more on Mars as compared to that on Earth.

Fact 28. Viking 1 and Viking 2 are the two spacecrafts that were sent by NASA in 1975 on Mars with the objective to study its surface and to gather important information about its composition and structure. (Launch dates: August 20, 1975 (Viking 1); September 9, 1975 (Viking 2))

The first photograph of Mars taken from its surface was taken by Viking 1 on July 20 1976.

facts about Mars - first image
First image of Mars taken by Viking 1. Image credit – NASA

Fact 29. In 2004, NASA’s rovers found the evidence of water on the planet. Presence of water on Mars could be a potential signal of survival of living things in the past or in the present on the planet.

Fact 30. Currently, two rovers from NASA named, Opportunity and Curiosity, are exploring the surface of Mars.

Fact 31. “Perihelion” is the term for the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid or comet at which it is closest to the Sun. Mars is at a distance of 206,655,215 kilometers or 1.381 AU when it is closest to the Sun. (An AU is an astronomical unit. In simple terms, 1 AU is the average distance between the Sun and Earth.)

Fact 32. “Aphelion” is the term for the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid or comet at which it is furthest from the Sun. Mars is at a distance of 249,232,432 kilometers or 1.666 AU when it is furthest from the Sun. (An AU is an astronomical unit. In simple terms, 1 AU is the average distance between the Sun and Earth.)

Fact 33. The minimum distance between Mars and Earth keeps on changing because they do not have perfectly circular orbits. Instead, they have elliptical orbits. On the other hand, Venus has the most circular orbit of any planet in the solar system.

Fact 34. Galileo Galilei observed Mars in 1609 with a basic telescope.

Fact 35. NASA has plans to create an Earth Independent colony on Mars by the end of 2030.

Fact 36. Presence of Ozone on Mars was first detected in 1971. However, the concentration of Ozone on Mars is 300 thinner than on Earth, and it varies with time and location. At present, scientists have been successfully able to identify three distinct layers of Ozone on the Red Planet.

Fact 37. The amount of land surface available on Mars is almost equal to that available on the Earth.

Fact 38. The length of one day on Mars is almost identical to that of the Earth.

Duration/length of a day on different planets (Source)

PlanetLength of Day
Mercury1408 hours
Venus5832 hours
Earth24 hours
Mars25 hours
Jupiter10 hours
Saturn11 hours
Uranus17 hours
Neptune16 hours

Fact 39. Dust storms are quite violent on Mars. Dust storms can continue to rule the planet’s surface for months and are mostly generated when Mars comes in close proximity to the Sun.

Fact 40. One of Mars’ moons – Phobos – is expected to either crash into the planet or breakup into a small ring around the planet in the next 50 million years or so.

Fact 41. Mars has all four seasons as that of Earth. However, each season on the Red Planet lasts twice as long as that on Earth.

Fact 42. The longest and the deepest canyon in the entire solar system is on Mars – “Valles Marineris”. Some keys stats about it: maximum length – 4000 km, maximum width – 200 km, and maximum depth – 7 km. Compared to the Grand Canyon, it is 4 times deeper and 6 times longer.

Fact 43. Due to close proximity of Mars to Earth and the hope of establishing life on it, Mars has been extensively studied and further investigation and exploration of the planet is going on.

Fact 44. Mars is yet to see human feet unlike the moon where some astronauts including Neil Armstrong have landed decades ago.

Fact 45. Elon Musk – one of the legendary silicon valley entrepreneur and the man behind “Tesla Motors and Space X” – wants to put man on Mars and make life multi-planetary.

Fact 46. Success rate of the missions that have been launched for the exploration of Mars are no better than 66%.

Fact 47. Unlike the Earth, on Mars sunsets are blue.

Fact 48. There is no human population on Mars as of today but there are robots inhabiting the Red Soil. And there are 7 of those.

Fact 49. Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and Venus can be seen with the naked eye and not any other planets.

Also read: facts about Saturn

Fact 50. NASA is the only space exploration agency that has managed to land on Mars so far.

Fact 51. Diameter: Mars is less than half the diameter of Earth.

Fact 52. According to NASA, it would roughly take 2 and a half years to make a round trip to Mars from Earth. This also includes the time that the astronauts would have to allow Mars and Earth to re-align for the return trip.

Fact 53. “Seek Signs Of Life” is the exploration strategy that NASA is currently following to find out the possibilities of life on Mars in the past or present.

Fact 54. In an attempt to find the possibility of life on Mars, scientists are typically interested in finding the evidence of water and organics – the chemical building blocks of life.

Fact 55. Mars has a system of air, water, ice and geology; in other terms it has an atmosphere, a hydrosphere, a cryosphere and a lithosphere. It has the essential systems that characterize our Earth.

Fact 56. Mars’ magnetic field turned off four billion years ago. And surprisingly, scientists believe that the field could turn on someday in the future, but not likely.

Fact 57. Did you know that scientist have tried to grow plants in soil that mimics Martian soil? Yes, and they have succeeded in their attempt to grow tomatoes, peas and rye from the said soil. Now, this is going to help those wishing to spend some time on the Red Planet.

Fact 58. In 2016, scientists with the help of an exploration rover Curiosity have discovered a mineral called “tridymite” on Mars. This discovery in know questioning the earlier assumptions based on the history of the planet. This fact know makes us believe that the planet had a more violent and explosive volcanic activity in the yesterdays.

Fact 59. Worm like aliens have been recently spotted on Mars surface by NASAJPL’s Mars orbiter. This spacecraft has been orbiting Mars for the past 11 years. Read more here.

Quick facts about Mars

Discovered byUnknown
Position from the SunFourth (4th)
Mass6.4169 x 1023 kg (About 11% that of Earth)
Diameter4,220 miles
Orbit2.2794382 x 108 km (About 1.5 times that of Earth
)
Time to rotate24 hours, 40 minutes (approx.)
Moons2
Principal/characteristic colorReddish
Gases presentMostly carbon dioxide and Argon, Oxygen, Nitrogen.
TemperatureAverage -81 degrees F
Mean density3,933 kilogram/meter cube (about 71% as dense as Earth)
Atmospheric pressure6.36 mb at mean radius
CompositionCrust and Surface: mostly iron rich ballistic rock;
Mantle: silicate rock;
Core: Iron, Nickle or Sulfur (states unknown)
Average distance from Sun142 million miles
Average speed in orbiting Sun14.5 miles per second
Tilt of Axis25 degrees
Length of year687 Earth Days
Length of day24 hours 37 minutes
Gravity0.375 that of Earth
Perihelion206,655,215 kilometers or 1.381 AU
Aphelion249,232,432 kilometers or 1.666 AU
More statshttps://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html

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