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10 Awesome Facts About Mars

10 Awesome Facts About Mars
This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres.

The Red Planet.  It’s our best contender for a second planet to colonize, and it has sparked the imagination, launched new industries and made major money in Hollywood.  There’s a lot we don’t know about our solar neighbour still, but here are 10 amazing things we do know.

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  1. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is often called the ‘Red Planet’ due to the iron oxide prevalent on its surface, which gives it a reddish look.

  2. The planet is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. It has a diameter of about half the Earth, measuring only 6,800 km across. The total mass of Mars is only about 10% the mass of Earth.

  3. The first telescopic observation of Mars was done by Galileo Galilei, Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in 1610. And within a century, astronomers discovered its polar ice caps.

  4. It has water — today, it is accepted that the now-dry planet had abundant water very early in its history. Observations by the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.

Water on Mars
Thanks to new techniques and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists confirmed the dark streaks visible in this photo, released on Sept. 28, 2015, are caused by flowing water. (University of Arizona/JPL/NASA/Reuters)
  1. Mars has the second highest known mountain within the Solar System (the tallest on a planet) – the mighty Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is the youngest of the large volcanoes on Mars, having formed during Mars’s Amazonian Period. It has a height of nearly 22 km (14 mi) by one measure and stands almost three times as tall as Mount Everest’s height above sea level.

  2. Mars is the site of Valles Marineris, the greatest gorge on any planet in the Solar System. Valles Marineris was caused when volcanoes erupting around it tore up the land, leaving a huge valley. Stretching over 4,000 km along the equator of Mars, Valles Marineris can be as deep as 7 km in places.

  3. Mars has two known moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. The two moons were discovered by American astronomer Asaph Hall over the course of a week in 1877.

  4. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, which consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon and trace amounts of water and oxygen.

  5. Mars has all four seasons like that of Earth as its axis is tilted away from the Sun.

  6. At present, Mars is host to five functioning spacecraft: three in orbit — the Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and two on the surface — Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.


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