So in the spirit of getting to know our neighbours, here are our favourite ten Mars Facts.
- Mars is approximately half the size of Earth, but because Mars is a desert planet, it has the same amount of dry land as Earth.
- Mars have two moons – not one like Earth. Mars’s moons have special names – Phobos and Deimos. Phobos is the larger of the two moons and is on a collision course for Mars (don’t worry though, it will take about 50 million years to reach the Martian surface). Deimos is a small, lumpy moon which orbits Mars approximately every 30 hours.
- Gravity on Mars is 62% lower than on Earth. This means that a kilo of apples on Earth would only weigh 38 grams on Mars.
- Mars takes 687 days to orbit the sun. If you’re ten on Earth, you’re only five on Mars and you have to wait much longer for your birthday every year!
- The seasons on Mars are extreme because of its elliptical orbital path around the sun and they last about twice as long as the seasons on Earth.
- Martian snowflakes are made of carbon dioxide rather than water, and are thought to be very small particles that create a fog effect instead of appearing as falling snow.
- Mars is the home of Olympus Mons – the largest known mountain in the solar system. Olympus Mons is also a volcano.
- A huge canyon on Mars called Valles Marineris stretches 4,000kms across the planet’s surface, making it almost as wide as Australia!
- Astronomers could see Olympus Mons through telescopes in the 19th century. That’s almost 200 years ago!
- The first spacecraft to land on Mars was NASA’s Viking spacecraft, which arrived on the Martian surface on 20 July 1976.
Image credit: NASA
Have you completed the Mars Quiz from Chapter One of the Mars Diary yet? Have a go now!