You probably know that Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in our solar system after Mercury. It is often referred to as ‘The Red Planet’ due to its red color. What else do you know about this planet? Check out these 7 interesting facts about Mars.
1. Mars total landmass
Mars is around 15% of the volume and 10% of the mass of Earth yet they have a very similar landmass. This is due to the fact that our planet is covered by 70% of water whereas Mars isn’t. In addition to this gravity on Mars is only 37% of our gravitational force, meaning if you lived on Mars you could jump 3 times higher than you can here on earth.
2. Why is Mars called Mars?
You may know that Mars is named after the Roman god of war, the ancient Greeks called Mars Ares, coincidentally their god of war. So why did both civilisations name Mars after their god of War? It is thought that this is due to the fact Mars has a bright blood-red color.
3. Mars is here on Earth
It’s true pieces of Mars have been found here on earth, all be it trace amounts of the Martian atmosphere have been found within meteorites that originated on Mars. The meteorites orbited our solar system for many millions of years before eventually entering our atmosphere and crashing to the ground! Of course, studies of these meteorites have enabled us to learn much more about Mars.
4. Mission to Mars
There have been 39 missions to Mars from Earth so far. It all started in 1960 with the USSR’s Marsnik 1, but of the 39 landers, rovers and orbiters that had missions to Mars, only 16 of these missions were a success.
5. Mars hosts the 2nd tallest mountain in the Solar System
Named Olympus Mons this mountain is 21 km high and 600km in diameter. A shield volcano, Olympus Mons was formed many billions of years ago. Scientists have recently found some evidence to suggest that Olympus Mons is still an active volcano. Only one mountain named Rheasilvia Central Peak on the asteroid Vesta is higher than Olympus Mons.
Mars was once believed to be populated with intelligent life due to the discovery of lines or grooves on the planet’s surface. These lines named canali were first spotted by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli. Sadly due to advances in astronomy, the lines were proved to be an optical illusion.
7. Mars is hospitable for life
With the one exception of our planet Earth, Mars is the most hospitable for life in the solar system. Because of this, there are many space missions to Mars planned over the coming decades. These missions will help us understand more about Mars and in particular whether it could host extraterrestrial life or be a viable planet for a future Earth colony!