Facts About Mars: Amazing Solar System Reveals For Kids! | Kidadl


Facts About Mars: Amazing Solar System Reveals For Kids!

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Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Mars is an important planet in the solar system that has a mild summer and an extremely cold winter.

Mars is also the second-smallest planet in our solar system, coming after Mercury. It is named after the Roman god of war, Mars.

Mars is one of the few planets that are visible to the naked eye on a clear, cloudless night. It can be identified easily due to its reddish appearance, which also gives it the popular name of ‘red planet’. Mars is a terrestrial planet like Earth, as it has a solid surface on which the terrain like rocky surface, valleys, impact craters, mountains, deserts, and polar ice caps are visible clearly, unlike gaseous planets like Jupiter. One of the most interesting facts about Mars is its mountain, named Olympus Mons, which is the largest volcano and the highest mountain on Mars. It is also the highest mountain on any of the planets in our solar system.

One of the similarities that Mars shares with Earth is that both of these planets’ rotational period and the tilt of their rotational axis are the closest among all the other planets. Our scientists and researchers have been sending various spacecraft to Mars for several years now. Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to successfully reach the orbit of Mars. It was sent by NASA on November 28, 1964.

The air pressure on Mars is just one percent of that on Earth's surface. The duration of a Martian day is 24.6 Earth hours. The planet was named by the ancient Greeks after the Roman God of War. Water ice has also been observed beneath the Martian rocks in the northern hemisphere.

After reading about the interesting facts surrounding Mars' orbit, Martian atmosphere, and Mars surface, also check out cold war facts and Bangladesh's facts here at Kidadl.

How long does it take to get to Mars?

In astronomy, the interplanetary distance is measured in light-years, which is the amount of time light travels in a year. In the case of the distance between Mars and Earth, the light-year distance is only 187 seconds when the planets are closest to each other in their orbits, which means that a ray of light from the surface of Mars will take 187 seconds to reach the surface of Earth.

The distance between these two planets, as we measure it here on Earth, keeps changing from 248,548,476.895 mi (400,000,000 km) to a few hundred miles or kilometers. This distance keeps changing as the planets move around in their own orbits around the sun, as both the planets have different speeds and distances from the sun. Earth and Mars align very closely once every 26 years. The closest distance that has been recorded in 2003 between Earth and Mars is only 34,796,786.76 mi (56,000,000 km).

For an average spacecraft to cross this much distance, it takes about seven to eight months when the planets are closest. The first spacecraft, Mariner 4, which successfully entered the orbit of Mars, took 228 days to reach there. Furthermore, the spacecraft Viking I, which was the first spacecraft to land successfully on the surface of the red planet, was launched on August 20, 1975, and it reached the surface of Mars on July 20, 1976. It took 304 days for the spacecraft to reach there. A spacecraft has to cover a distance of about 248,548,476.895 mi (400,000,000 km) before it can get that close to Mars. This happens mainly because, as many people might now know, a spacecraft does not fly straight towards a planet, but rather it has to orbit around both Earth and the planet on which it needs to land in order to land safely and not crash itself from momentum.

How many moons does Mars have?

The second smallest planet in the solar system has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. These two moons are also among the smallest moons in the solar system. Phobos and Deimos are named after the two sons of the Greek God of War, Ares, who is equivalent to the Roman God of War, Mars.

Both the moons of Mars were discovered six days apart by an American astronomer called Asaph Hall, in 1877. Both of these moons have an irregular shape, unlike the Earth’s moon, which is a lot more spherical. The words 'Phobos' means fear and 'Deimos' means terror in the Greek language and describe the Gods after which they are named. Compared to our moon, these two moons are very small in size. Phobos has a diameter of only 13.8 mi (22.0 km), while Deimos has a diameter of 7.8 mi (12.4 km). Both the moons are locked tidally with the planet, i.e. they face Mars with only one side at all times, just like our moon.

Deimos is a moon that roughly takes about 30 hours to complete one rotation around Mars. It rises from the east and sets in the west, much like the sun. Due to the large distance between Deimos and Mars, it is observed that this moon is slowly orbiting away from the planet every thousand years. This factor is also similar to our moon.

Phobos orbits very closely, towards the surface of Mars. The moon Phobos rises from the west and sets in the east, unlike other moons. It orbits at a very high speed, completing a revolution around Mars in less than 11 hours. Because Phobos moon has a very close orbit to Mars, it is estimated that the moon becomes less visible as one travels farther from the equator, and even becomes completely hidden by the planet's surface, making it impossible to view from the polar caps. Also, this moon is known for orbiting closer and closer to the planet, which would cause it to shatter from the atmospheric pressure and form rings around the planet like Saturn, or fall through the atmosphere of Mars and create a crater on the planet’s surface in about 50 million years.

Can you live on Mars?

Currently, there is no technological machinery available that can make it possible for us to survive on the red planet Mars. Rather, there has not even been any human yet who has landed on the surface of Mars. There are several reasons why Mars is not a habitable planet for human life or any type of life for that matter.

Mars atmosphere is very thin, less than one percent compared to that of Earth’s. This results in many shortcomings, as such a thin atmospheric pressure will not be able to hold any liquid water, which is inherently essential for our survival. Further, this atmosphere contains less than 0.16 % oxygen, which is absolutely not habitable for many living things. The thin atmosphere of the planet Mars allows the harmful radiation that is emitted by the sun, as well as several other radiations coming in from space. On Earth, the magnetosphere is responsible for keeping this harmful radiation away, but on Mars, it falls directly on the surface of the planet.

Further, it is extremely difficult to land safely on the surface of Mars, because its surface gravity is only about 38 % of what it is on Earth. The only hope that stands between the thought of life on Mars is the similarity between Earth’s and Mars’s temperature and sunlight. The lowest temperature recorded on Mars is similar to that of Antarctica. Also, even though Mars is the fourth furthest planet from the sun, due to its thin atmosphere, it allows more sunlight to pass through, which is about equal to the amount that the atmosphere of Earth lets pass through. Also, it is estimated that the polar ice caps of Mars are made from water, and that water can be found under the planet’s crust.

If one wishes to survive on Mars, we will need to invent highly reliable and self-sustaining habitats that can provide protection against the thin atmosphere and harmful radiation on the planet. For a long period of time, these habitats need to be capable of supporting themselves without help from the Earth. Only in that way can one dream of living on the planet Mars.

Apart from this, there are several theories about past life on Mars, as well as extant life. Several investigations are being conducted every year into these questions about the possibility of life already existing on Mars.

Mars the red planet in space.

Why is Mars red?

The red color of the planet appears because of the abundance of iron oxide on the surface of Mars. Iron oxide is the same compound that gives our blood and rusts their red color. In Chinese, Mars is called the ‘fire star’ due to its fiery reddish appearance. But the fact of how the planet came to be covered with so much iron oxide is still a question that haunts scientists around the world.

Scientists theorize that when the planets formed millions of years ago, each had their own collection of several elements, which clustered around to form planets. On Earth, most of the iron is present in the core, which is formed due to the strong gravitational energy found on Earth. Mars, on the other hand, has a much lower gravity force than Earth, which scientists believe resulted in a lot of iron being spread on the planet's crust's outer surface. Typically, pure iron is a shiny black in color, but the process of oxidation is what makes it turn its color red. There are several theories as to how the iron on the planet’s surface became oxidized so much that it made a whole red planet.

One of the theories suggests that in the initial stages of the formation of Mars, it was pelted with liquid water like rain, which caused the oxidation process on the surface and made the iron element rust. Another theory suggests that this is the effect of millions of years of exposure to sunlight, which has caused the breakdown of carbon atoms to form iron oxide. In conclusion, the mystery about the color of the planet Mars is yet to be solved, and further investigation into the history of the planet by gathering evidence can point towards a solid conclusion that will solve this question in the future.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for facts about Mars, then why not take a look at invertebrates examples to find out more about the animal kingdom or how to introduce kitten and puppy to learn exciting pet behavior?

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

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