Mars

Mars

Possible traces of water and life are sought on Mars.

Geography

Keywords

Mars, moons of Mars, Solar System, inner planet, rocky planet, Phobos, Deimos, Sun, planet, astronomy, geography

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Solar System

  • Sun
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System, the outermost of the inner planets. It is 1.52 times as far from the sun as the Earth. Its diameter is about half of Earth´s, its mass is only a tenth. It is a rocky planet (terrestrial planet).

Mars

  • axis of rotation
  • line perpendicular to the orbital plane
  • orbital plane of Mars
  • orbit of Mars
  • equator of Mars
  • 25.19°

Data:

Diameter: 6,794 km ( 0.53 Earths)

Mass: 6.4185 x 10²³ kg ( 0.107 Earths)

Average density: 3.93 g/cm³

Surface gravity: 0.376 g

Surface temperature: -150 °C – 20 °C

Number of moons: 2

Rotation period: 24 h 37 min

Axial tilt: 25.2°

Average distance from the Sun:
227,936,637 km = 1.52 AU =
12 light minutes

Orbital eccentricity: 0.093412

Orbital period: 1.88 years

Topography

  • Northern ice cap
  • Southern ice cap
  • Arcadia Planitia
  • Amazonis Planitia
  • Elysium Planitia
  • Acidalia Planitia
  • Utopia Planitia
  • Elysium Mons
  • Olympus Mons
  • Arabia Terra
  • Tempe Terra
  • Sirenum Terra
  • Noachis Terra
  • Tyrrhena Terra
  • Promethei Terra
  • Cimmeria Terra
  • Xanthe Terra
  • Tharsis plateau
  • Valles Marineris
  • Solis Lacus
  • Hesperia Planum
  • von Kármán crater
  • Isidis Basin
  • Hellas Basin
  • Argyre Basin

The surface of the northern hemisphere features huge volcanic cones and shield-shaped volcanic mountains, while the southern hemisphere is covered with old impact craters.
The craters, measuring more than 300 m, sometimes several hundreds of kilometres in diameter, were probably created by asteroid collisions, which is not surprising, as the asteroid belt lies near the Martian orbit.
The southern hemisphere of Mars features several large, circular basins, of which Hellas is the largest with its 2,000 km diameter. Its red colour is due to sand and dust rich in iron oxide.

The largest volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons is a large shield volcano with a height of 25 km. Valles Marineris is a canyon system, lying 4,000 km south of the equator, with a maximum width of several hundred kilometres and a depth of 6 km.

The region of polar snow caps is particularly interesting, where hundreds of craters are filled partially or completely with frozen water ice and dry ice. Currently there is no liquid water on the surface of Mars, but evidence shows that there has been, in the past. There are topographical formations similar to dried-up river beds, and drop-shaped debris deposits, which are typically deposited by fast-flowing rivers carrying sediment around landmarks.

Phobos

Phobos:

average distance from Mars: 9,377 km

max. diameter: 22.2 km

mass: 1.072 x 10¹⁶ kg

Completing an orbit in approximately 8 hours, Phobos orbits Mars faster than the planet itself rotates. Tidal forces are continuously reducing its orbital radius and thus Phobos will eventually crash into the surface of Mars. Its surface features craters and grooves, suggesting a layered structure.

Deimos

Deimos:

average distance from Mars: 23,400 km

max. diameter: 12.6 km

mass: 2 x 10¹⁵ kg

Its dark surface is covered with a thick layer of dust. The orbit of Deimos is slowly expanding.

Section of Mars

  • crust - It is about 200 km thick.
  • mantle - This layer is about 1,600 km thick, it consists of magmatic rock.
  • core - It is about 3,200 km in diameter. It is not known if it consists of liquid or solid metals.

Orbit of Mars

  • Mars
  • Sun
  • average distance from the Sun: 227,936,637 km
  • orbital period: 1.88 years
  • the orbit of Mars

Animation

  • Sun
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • axis of rotation
  • line perpendicular to the orbital plane
  • orbital plane of Mars
  • orbit of Mars
  • equator of Mars
  • 25.19°
  • crust - It is about 200 km thick.
  • mantle - This layer is about 1,600 km thick, it consists of magmatic rock.
  • core - It is about 3,200 km in diameter. It is not known if it consists of liquid or solid metals.
  • Mars
  • Sun
  • average distance from the Sun: 227,936,637 km
  • orbital period: 1.88 years
  • the orbit of Mars

Narration

Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Because of its red colour, it was named after the Roman god of war. Mars was one of the oldest gods of Rome. The first observers of Mars were ancient Egyptians, they referred to it as 'Horus of the horizon'. Besides the Egyptians, the Greeks were also busy observing Mars; around 300 BC, Aristotle noted that Mars was farther from Earth than the Moon. At the end of the 16th century, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe managed to plot the path of Mars with the greatest accuracy to date.

His assistant, German astronomer Johannes Kepler, based his first two laws of planetary motion on observations of Mars.

- The orbit of each planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of its foci.

- The line joining a planet and the Sun covers equal areas during equal intervals of time. The planet moves faster near the Sun, and it moves more slowly at larger distances.

Since 1877, when Schiaparelli announced the discovery of a network of lines on the surface of Mars, the planet has been the subject of much debate. Many believed that the network was a man-made system of canals. Subsequent observations have disproved this idea. The first space probe to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Later, dozens of Soviet, American, European and Japanese spacecraft (orbiters, landers and rovers) were sent to Mars to study its surface and climate. Of these, the most successful were the Mariner and Viking programs, the Mars Global Surveyor, the Odyssey, the MRO, the Phoenix and the Mars Express. The Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity rovers have provided a great deal of information while moving along the surface.

Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun in the Solar system, the outermost of the inner planets. It is 1.52 times as far from the Sun as the Earth. Its diameter is about half of Earth's; its mass is only a tenth.

It is a rocky planet (terrestrial planet). The surface of the northern hemisphere features huge volcanic cones and shield-shaped volcanic mountains, while the southern hemisphere is covered with old impact craters. The craters, measuring more than 300 m, and sometimes several hundreds of kilometres in diameter, were probably created by asteroid collisions, which is not surprising, as the asteroid belt lies near the Martian orbit. The southern hemisphere of Mars features several large, circular basins, of which Hellas is the largest with its 2,000 km diameter. Its red colour is due to sand and dust rich in iron oxide.

The largest volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons is a large shield volcano with a height of 25 km. Valles Marineris is a canyon system, lying 4,000 km south of the equator, with a maximum width of several hundred kilometres and a depth of 6 km. The region of polar snow caps is particularly interesting, where hundreds of craters are filled partially or completely with frozen water ice and dry ice. Currently, there is no liquid water on the surface of Mars, but evidence shows that there has been in the past. There are topographical formations similar to dried-up river beds, and drop-shaped debris deposits, which are typically deposited by fast-flowing rivers carrying sediment around landmarks.

The atmosphere on Mars is very thin and is composed mostly of carbon dioxide (96%), with nitrogen and argon, and traces of oxygen and water vapour. The atmospheric pressure is about 1% of the Earth's. If one were to stand on the surface of Mars, the sky would not appear blue, as on Earth in clear weather, but rather pale orange or pink.
Weather conditions are harsh (the average temperature is -63 °C), thus the polar regions are covered with carbon dioxide snow caps. Martian years are roughly twice as long as Earth years. Seasons are also twice as long as on Earth and much more extreme than here. During the winter in the southern Martian hemisphere, the polar ice cap might cover half of it, while in summer the ice cap might completely disappear. A similar phenomenon can be observed in the northern hemisphere. The Martian magnetic field is very weak.

There are two known moons: Phobos and Deimos, which are irregularly shaped and are probably captured asteroids. Both satellites were discovered by Asaph Hall in 1877. They were named after characters in ancient Greek mythology, the sons of Ares, god of War. The meaning of their names is 'dread' (Deimos) and 'fear' (Phobos).

Completing an orbit in approximately 8 hours, Phobos orbits Mars faster than the planet itself rotates. Tidal forces are continuously reducing its orbital radius and thus Phobos will eventually crash into the surface of Mars. Its surface features craters and grooves, suggesting a layered structure.

The orbit of Deimos is slowly expanding. Its dark surface is covered with a thick layer of dust.

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