Planet Mars – the Red Planet


Planet Mars is also called the Red Planet or Red World.

Mars is reddish in colour and was named after the god of war of the ancient Romans. Mars is the only planet whose surface can be seen in detail from the Earth. Mars is the fourth closest planet to the Sun and the next planet beyond the Earth.

The Planet Mars Photo

Planet Mars Facts:

Number of Satellites: 2 (Phobos and Deimos)
Rotation Period: 24 hours and 37 minutes
Temperature: -140 to 20 degrees Celsius (-220 to 60 Fahrenheit)
Length of Year: About 1 Earth-year and ten and a half months (687 days)
Diameter: 6796 Kms (4223 Miles)
Axial Tilt: 25.19 degrees
Atmosphere:  Mainly Carbon Dioxide
Escape Velocity:  5.027 km/s
Mass: 6.4185 × 1023 kg (0.107 Earths – about 11% of Earth’s mass)
Volume: 1.6318×1011 km3 (0.151 Earths – about 15% of Earth’s volume


Mars is a terrestrial planet and is the second smallest planet in the Solar System. It is about half the size of Earth. It has a hard rocky surface that you could walk on. Mars’ surface is dry and much of it is covered with a reddish dust and rocks. Mars has two permanent polar ice caps. Like Earth it has seasons. It has the largest dust storms in the solar system.

Borealis Basin (North Polar Basin) in the northern hemisphere covers 40% of the planet and maybe a giant impact crater.


The Martian atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide (95 percent), nitrogen (2.7 percent), argon (1.6 percent), oxygen (0.2 percent) and trace amounts of water vapor and carbon monoxide.


The surface gravity on Mars is only about 38% of the surface gravity on Earth. If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth then you would weigh only 38 pounds on Mars.


Mars has two moons and their names are Deimos and Phobos.

Nasa’s Mars Robotic Exploration:

Mars was explored in flybys by Mariner 4, 6 and 7 in the 1960s and by the orbiting Mariner 9 in 1971 before NASA mounted the ambitious Viking mission, which launched two orbiters and two landers to the planet in 1975. The landers found no chemical evidence of life. Mars Pathfinder landed on the planet on July 4, 1997, delivering a mobile robot rover that explored the immediate vicinity. Mars Global Surveyor is creating the highest-resolution map of the planets surface.

Russia/Soviets Mars Robotic Exploration:

Started in the 1960’s with the Mars Program. The last endeavour by Russia was Mars 96.

Planet Mars Spacecraft:

Viking 1 & 2: Successful Missions!
Phobos 1 and 2: Failed Phobos Probes
Mars Observer: Failed Mars Probe
Mars 96: Failed to leave Earths orbit
Mars Global Surveyor:
Mars Pathfinder:

Mars Odyssey:
Mars Express: Currently in orbit
Spirit and Opportunity rovers
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter – launched Aug 2005
Mars Phoenix Lander – launch in 2007
Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover. Launched November 2011
PhobosGrunt  – Russian 2011
Maven – 2013
Mangalyaan: first Indian mission – November 2013
ExoMars: 2018
Insight – (new) USA Lander 2018
Mars 2020

More Facts on Planet Mars – Did you know?

Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system (550km wide). It is also the tallest mountain on any planet in the Solar System.

The average distance from Mars to the Sun  is 228 million km or 1.52 AU. 

Martian Day (Sol) is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. It is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than a day on Earth. Sol refers to Solar Day.

Mars 3 lander (Soviet / Russian) was the first spacecraft to attain a soft landing in December 2, 1971.

How big would the sun look from Mars? The Sun appears about half the size on Mars.

Mariner 4 (USA) was the first successful flyby of planet Mars. It returned the first pictures of the Martian surface. It also captured the first images of another planet ever returned from deep space.


Mars PicturesSurfaceMars DvdMars Books.

Mars: The Inside Story of the Red Planet  
by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest

The Smithsonian Book of Mars by Joseph M. Boyce

Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World by Oliver Morton


Picture from Bringing Life to Mars

The Planet Mars Links

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