Mars - The red planet

General Information

Average distance from the Sun

228 million km
(142 million miles)

Length of year

687 Earth days

Length of solar day

24 Hours 39 minutes
35 seconds

Rotation period relative to stars

24 hours 37 minutes
23 seconds

Diameter at equator

6,670 km
(4,150 miles)

Approximate surface temperatures

- 23 0C ( - 10 0F)
( -150 0C at poles,
0 0C at equator )

The popular name for Mars is "the Red Planet" because of its obvious colour when it appears in the sky. The surface rocks are coloured by a large amount of the chemical iron oxide. Even the sky on Mars looks pink, due to the dust blown up into the atmosphere.

Mars rotates round an axis tilted by 240. As a result Mars goes through seasons very similar to the ones we have on Earth. When it is winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere, the north polar cap is at its largest and the southern one at its smallest. After half a Martian year, the situation is reversed. The polar caps are a thin layer of frozen carbon dioxide and water.



Mars atmosphere is mainly carbon dioxide (95 per cent) with small amounts of
nitrogen (2.7 per cent), argon (1.6 per cent) and oxygen (0.2 per cent)

The only water now on Mars seems to be frozen, but images of the Martian landscape show channels and canyons that were obviously cut by water flowing in the past.

Mars is thought to have a core containing iron, but its precise size and composition are not known. The core is surrounded by a rocky mantle. Oxygen combined with solicon makes up 44 per cent of the soilsand iron oxide 19 per cent.

Mars has two tiny moons. Both are roughly potato-shaped and have craters on them. Deimos is about 16 km long and 12 km across. It orbits Mars at a distance of 23,500 km taking 1 Earth days. Phobos is about 28 km long and 20 km across. It orbits Mars at a distance of 9,340 km in just 8 (Earth) hours.

Water For Life ?

Space probes have photographed deep channels on Mars, which suggest water once flowed there. In the distant past, Mars may have had rivers and oceans.Water is essential for plants and animals to live. So if there was water on Mars, then living things may have able to exist there.

Martain meteorite?

In 1984, a meteorite landed on Earth. The meteorite was analyzed by scientists in 1996. They decided that almost certainly originated from Mars , due to the chemical nature of the rock.These scientists claim that the meteorite contains fossils of microscopic bacteria-like creatures that lived millions of years ago. If true, this would prove that there were once some simple forms of life on Mars. Other scientists, however,doubt this theory. Instead, they claim that the remains are not of livings, but of other chemical material.