Advertisement.

EnchantedLearning.com is a user-supported site.
As a bonus, site members have access to a banner-ad-free version of the site, with print-friendly pages.
Click here to learn more.

ad
(Already a member? Click here.)

Our subscribers' grade-level estimate for this page: 3rd - 5th
Table of Contents Enchanted Learning
All About Astronomy
Site Index
Our Solar System Stars Glossary Printables, Worksheets, and Activities
The Sun The Planets The Moon Asteroids Kuiper Belt Comets Meteors Astronomers

Your weight on the Planets The Planets Your age on the Planets
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune pluto

MARS
General
Description
Statistics Moons:
Deimos and Phobos
Missions to Mars Activities,
Web Links
MARS
"The Red Planet"

Mars, the red planet, is the fourth planet from the sun and the most Earth-like planet in our solar system. It is about half the size of Earth and has a dry, rocky surface and a very thin atmosphere.

MARS' SURFACE

A Mollweide projection of Mars made from four pictures taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1999. A storm is visible in the top left near the pole.
The surface of Mars is dry, rocky, and mostly covered with iron-rich dust. There are low-lying plains in the northern hemisphere, but the southern hemisphere is dotted with impact craters. The ground is frozen; this permafrost extends for several kilometers.


Olympus Mons, the largest volcano on Mars; it is perhaps the largest volcano in the Solar System. It is 17 miles (27 km) tall and over 320 miles (520 km) across. It is thought to be extinct.
The north and south poles of Mars are covered by ice caps composed of frozen carbon dioxide and water.



Scientists have long thought that there is no liquid water on the surface of Mars now, but recent photos from Mars indicate that there might be some liquid water near the surface. The surface of Mars shows much evidence of the effects of ancient waterways upon the landscape; there are ancient, dry rivers and lakes complete with huge inflow and outflow channels. These channels were probably caused by catastrophic flooding that quickly eroded the landscape.

Scientists think that most of the water on Mars is frozen in the land (as permafrost) and frozen in the polar ice caps.

G. Schiaparelli was an Italian astronomer who first mapped Mars (in 1877) and brought attention to the network of "canali" (Italian for canals or channels) on Mars. These "canals" were later found to be dry and not to be canals at all. A Martian impact crater (Crater Schiaparelli, 461 km = 277 mi in diameter) and a hemisphere of Mars have been named after Schiaparelli.

SIZE
Mars is about 4,222 miles (6790 km) in diameter. This is 53% (a little over half) of the diameter of the Earth.

PLANETARY COMPOSITION
Crust and Surface: Mars' surface is composed mostly of iron-rich basaltic rock (an igneous rock). Mars has a thin crust, similar to Earth's.

Mantle: Silicate rock, probably hotter than the Earth's mantle at corresponding depths.

Core: The core is probably iron and sulphides and may have a radius of 800-1,500 miles (1,300-2,400 km). More will be known when data from future Mars missions arrives and is analyzed.

MASS AND GRAVITY
Mars' mass is about 6.42 x 10^23 kg. This is 1/9th of the mass of the Earth. A 100-pound person on Mars would weigh 38 pounds.

LENGTH OF A DAY AND YEAR ON MARS
Each day on Mars takes 1.03 Earth days (24.6 hours). A year on Mars takes 687 Earth days; it takes this long for Mars to orbit the sun once.

MARS' ORBIT
Mars is 1.524 times farther from than the sun than the Earth is. It averages 141.6 million miles (227.9 million km) from the sun. Its orbit is very elliptical; Mars has the highest orbital eccentricity of any planet in our Solar System except Pluto.

ATMOSPHERE
Mars has a very thin atmosphere. It consists of 95% carbon dioxide (CO2), 3% nitrogen, and 1.6% argon (there is no oxygen). The atmospheric pressure is only a fraction of that on Earth (about 1% of Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level), and it varies greatly throughout the year.

There are large stores of frozen carbon dioxide at the north and south poles. During the warm season in each hemisphere, the polar cap partly melts, releasing carbon dioxide. During the cold season in each hemisphere, the polar cap partly freezes, capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The atmospheric pressure varies widely from season to season; the global atmospheric pressure on Mars is 25% different (there is less air, mostly carbon dioxide) during the (northern hemisphere) winter than during the summer. This is mostly due to Mars' highly eccentric orbit; Mars is about 20% closer to the Sun during the winter than during the summer. Because of this, the northern polar cap absorbs more carbon dioxide than the southern polar cap absorbs half a Martian year later.

Occasionally, there are clouds in Mars' atmosphere. Most of these clouds are composed of carbon dioxide ice crystals or, less frequently, of frozen water crystals.

There are a lot of fine dust particles suspended in Mars' atmosphere. These particles (which contain a lot of iron oxide) absorb blue light, so the sky appears to have little blue in it and is pink/yellow to butterscotch in color.



TEMPERATURE RANGE
Mars' surface temperature averages -81 °F (-63 °C). The temperature ranges from a high of 68° F(20° C) to a low of -220° F(-140° C). Mars is much colder than the Earth.

MARS' MOONS
Mars has 2 tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos. They were probably asteroids that were pulled into orbit around Mars.

SPACECRAFT VISITS
Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to visit Mars (in 1965). Two Viking spacecraft landed in 1976. Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997, broadcasting photos. For more on the Mars missions, click here.

THE FACE ON MARS
This photograph of the Cydonia Mense region of Mars was taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor in 1998. It is a coincidental alignment of rocks and other geologic formations that happens to look like a human face from this angle.

DISCOVERY OF MARS
Mars has been known since ancient times.

MARS' NAME AND SYMBOL

This is the symbol of the planet Mars.
Mars was named after the Roman god of war.

Mars Activities


Mars
An Early Reader Book

An activity book on Mars to print for early readers. The book contains information, pictures to color, and phrases to copy.


Mars
A Printable Book

An activity book on Mars to print for fluent readers. The book contains information, pictures, and questions to answer on each page.
writing prompt

Write Ten Things About Mars

A one-page printable worksheet. Write ten things about Mars (plus one thing you would like to change about it).

Mars coloring page

Find It!, a quiz on Mars.

Interactive Mars Puzzle

Mars Cloze Activity: A fill-in-the-blanks activity on Mars. Answers

How to write a report on a planet - plus a rubric.



Enchanted Learning®
Over 35,000 Web Pages
Sample Pages for Prospective Subscribers, or click below

Overview of Site
What's New
Enchanted Learning Home
Monthly Activity Calendar
Books to Print
Site Index

K-3
Crafts
K-3 Themes
Little Explorers
Picture dictionary
PreK/K Activities
Rebus Rhymes
Stories
Writing
Cloze Activities
Essay Topics
Newspaper
Writing Activities
Parts of Speech

Fiction
The Test of Time
iPhone app
TapQuiz Maps - free iPhone Geography Game

Biology
Animal Printouts
Biology Label Printouts
Biomes
Birds
Butterflies
Dinosaurs
Food Chain
Human Anatomy
Mammals
Plants
Rainforests
Sharks
Whales
Physical Sciences: K-12
Astronomy
The Earth
Geology
Hurricanes
Landforms
Oceans
Tsunami
Volcano
Languages
Dutch
French
German
Italian
Japanese (Romaji)
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Geography/History
Explorers
Flags
Geography
Inventors
US History

Other Topics
Art and Artists
Calendars
College Finder
Crafts
Graphic Organizers
Label Me! Printouts
Math
Music
Word Wheels

Click to read our Privacy Policy

E-mail


Enchanted Learning Search

Search the Enchanted Learning website for:



Advertisement.



Advertisement.



Advertisement.



Copyright ©1999 EnchantedLearning.com ------ How to cite a web page