The Red Planet


Mars derives its name from the Romans, after their God of war. The red coloring of Mars reminded the Romans of blood spilled in the battlefield. The red color is due to amounts of oxidized iron in the soil.



Mars atmosphere contains 95.32 percent carbon dioxide, 2.7 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent argon, 0.13 percent oxygen, 0.08 percent carbon monoxide, minor amounts of water, nitrogen oxide, neon, hydrogen-deuterium-oxygen, krypton, xenon


The Martian surface is covered with dust much like the surface of the moon, this dust is the result of years of erosion from the martian winds. The first instrument to land on Mars capable of analyzing soil and rock was the European Pathfinder aboard the Sojourner Rover. The Pathfinder found the the surface of Mars is composed of two types of rocks, felsic and mafic. Felsic rocks are rocks containing whitish material feldspar, these types of rocks were found in the low lying plains of the southern hemisphere. Mafic rocks are made from volcanic lava, this is the type of rock that scientist most expected to find on Mars. Mafic type rocks were found in the ancient highlands of the southern hemisphere. Soil analysis found that in the underlying surface the two types of rock are roughly in proportion.

Size of Mars

Mars has a diameter of 6790 Kilometers, roughly half the size of Earth's diameter, 12750 Kilometers.

Density of Mars

Mars has a density of about 3.93 g/cm³ in comparison with Earth which has a density of about 5.52 g/cm³, the earth is the densest planet in the solar system.

Surface Temperatures

Near the Equator the temperature can reach up to 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, at the same spot the temperature can reach 100 degrees below zero F. The coldest regions are areas of very fine dust, while the warmest regions are areas of coarse sand, rocks, and gravel. Surface temperature were measured with the Thermal Emission Spectrometer aboard the Mars Global Surveyor.

Plate Tectonics

A scientist as UCLA has found evidence of plate tectonics in the features on Mars' surface, these features are similar to features on Earth that were caused by plate tectonics. Looking at satellite images of Mars, An Yin, saw a very smooth, flat side of canyon wall and a steep cliff similar to that of Death Valley in California, features which can only form along a fault line. The surface of Mars also contains the longest and deepest system of canyons in the solar system known as Valles Marineris. An Yin believes that Mars may be what an early Earth looked like.

Mars also has the tallest mountain, most volcanoes and the longest valley in the solar system. Olympus Mons, is 17 miles tall, or about 3 times taller than Mt. Everest. Olympusin Mons is also a shield volcanoe and is about 370 miles wide, which is as wide as the state of New Mexico. This is more evidence for the existence of plate tectonics on Mars.

Technology and Exlporation of Mars: Interactive

Robot spacecraft began observing Mars in the 1960s, with the United States launching Mariner 4 there in 1964 and Mariners 6 and 7 in 1969. They revealed Mars to be a barren world, without any signs of the life or civilizations people had imagined there. In 1971, Mariner 9 orbited Mars, mapping about 80 percent of the planet and discovering its volcanoes and canyons.

The rover Curiosity is currently on Mars exploring if life small life forms called Microbes exist here.


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