Some amazing facts about the planet Mars.
1. Mars is named after the Roman god of war because its red color reminded early observers of blood. The reason for the red color is that the soil is mostly composed of iron oxide, or what we commonly call rust.
2. Mars’ atmosphere is more than 95% CO2.
3. Mars has the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is 15.5 miles (24.9 kilometers) high and 372 miles (598 kilometers) across.
4. Mars is about half the size of the earth and has about a third of earth’s gravity. So you could jump tree times higher on Mars!
5. Mars has dust storms and small tornadoes. In 2001, a huge dust storm was observed that covered the entire planet for several earth days. Mars has more dust storms when it’s closer to the Sun. When it’s on the far-side of its orbit there are icy clouds made of carbon dioxide and dust.
6. Mars’ moon Phobos orbits dangerously close. Being only 5,827 miles (9,377 kilometers) from the center of Mars Phobos is closer to its primary than any other known planetary moon. The moon will eventually either impact the surface of Mars or break up into a planetary ring.
7. “Canals” seen on the surface of Mars by early observers lead them to believe there were aliens inhabiting the planet. In fact, Mars is one of the least habitable planets, with freezing temperatures, solar winds, and almost no atmosphere.
8. Scientists believe these “canals” seen by early observers are evidence that Mars once had liquid water on its surface.
9. The Borealis basin (below), is a large basin in the northern hemisphere of Mars that covers 40% of the planet. It is thought to have been created by a large impact.
10. On July 31, 2008 the Phoenix lander directly sampled water ice in shallow Martian soil.