Mars Facts – 10 Interesting Facts about Mars
- In 1996 NASA Claimed They Found Life on Mars
- Mankind Has Sent Over 40 Space Missions to Mars
- There Are 3 Robots on Mars Right Now
- There’s a Sheet of Ice 11 Inches Deep and the Size of Texas on Mars
- Scientists Have Confirmed Liquid Water Once Flowed on Mars
- Mars Is Red Because It’s a Rusty Planet
- Mars Has a Mountain 3 Times Bigger Than Mount Everest
- Mars Has 2 Moons That Measure Less Than 15 Miles in Diameter
- It’s Been over 75 Years since the War of the Worlds Shocked Americans
- Mars Has Seasons like Earth, but with More Extreme Weather
1. In 1996 NASA Claimed They Found Life on Mars
In 1996 NASA scientists announced they had confirmed the existence of life on Mars. Ever since Giovanni Schiaparelli pointed his telescope at the sky and described “canals” on Mars, people have tried to establish Mars facts that prove life exists on the planet.
NASA wasn’t claiming they had found intelligent life capable of carving canals on Mars; they weren’t even attempting to establish interesting facts about Mars that prove life exists there today. The scientists claimed that a rock which had fallen from space onto Earth was knocked off the planet Mars by an asteroid about 16 million years ago.
The rock was found in Antarctica and became the subject of close scrutiny, as did the claims of the NASA scientists who were trying to prove new Mars facts. The scientists claimed the molecular formations on the rock were formed by microbes that lived on Mars millions or billions of years ago.
The evidence the scientists provided for life on Mars was put under close scrutiny by experts all around the world. Eventually, most scientists agreed that other non-organic processes could have produced the molecular formations. So for now, scientists still don’t actually have any proof that there is, or ever was, life on Mars.
2. Mankind Has Sent Over 40 Space Missions to Mars
Scientists just don’t want to take “no” for an answer when it comes to life on Mars. The United States, Europe and Japan have all launched spacecraft on missions to explore Mars.
In 1962, the Soviet Union became the first country to launch a probe to Mars, the aptly named, Mars 1. The Mars 2 mission in 1971, the first mission to impact the surface of Mars, followed this first probe. The Mars 3 mission successfully landed the first probe on Mars, also in 1971.
The United States and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, have been at the forefront of missions to Mars in recent years. The most impressive Mars facts have been returned by the Mars Spirit and Opportunity rovers, both of which landed on Mars in 2003.
The United States also launched the Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity rover, which was based on the lessons learned from the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Curiosity landed on Mars in 2011 and started establishing new Mars facts. We tend to think curiosity has always been a part of our fascination with Mars, ever since humankind first looked up at the sky and saw the planet. Surely, the folks at NASA had this in mind when they named the mission!
3. There Are 3 Robots on Mars Right Now
In 2003, NASA launched the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on the surface of Mars and began exploring. This gives us some of the fun facts about Mars for kids. These advanced robots are unmanned rovers that carry an incredible number of scientific instruments.
Spirit and Opportunity are powered by two solar arrays that generate up to 140W of power in the full daylight. Like Galileo who peered through his telescope, NASA scientists are looking for definite signs of life on the planet Mars. They certainly aren’t looking for anyone digging canals! NASA scientists are looking for the possibility of tiny life forms, called microbes, that exist underground on Mars today, or may have existed on the surface at some point in the planet’s past.
NASA scientists are establishing new facts about Mars with robotic rovers. In 2012, the Curiosity rover landed with over five times the mass of scientific instruments as the previous rovers.
Using these robots, NASA scientists have confirmed the presence of water on the planet Mars.
4. There’s a Sheet of Ice 11 Inches Deep and the Size of Texas on Mars
The reason that scientists believe that there was once flowing water on Mars is because there is a lot of frozen water on Mars. Another one of the exciting Mars facts is that there is a giant sheet of ice on the South Pole of Mars.
It’s this large sheet of ice that gives scientists confidence that liquid water once flowed on Mars, and that it was erosion by this water that built the “canals” on Mars. The ice is so thick, that if it melted, it would cover the entire surface of Mars in water 11 inches deep. The North Pole of Mars is also covered in ice. There’s a good chance there was quite a bit of liquid water on Mars at some point!
In the most recent speculations on Mars facts, scientists think that there may be liquid water on Mars now! Scientists have stated that the interaction of salt in the Martian soil may create the possibility for liquid water, despite the cold temperatures on Mars. With this recent news, once again, there is the possibility of life on Mars, and scientists are eager to discover more Mars facts.
5. Scientists Have Confirmed Liquid Water Once Flowed on Mars
Astronomers with early telescopes thought that someone was responsible for carving the “canals” on Mars. Perhaps they would have arrived at the now generally accepted explanation sooner had they thought something was responsible.
The features on Mars that appear to be “canals” are now considered to be dry riverbeds. It was not someone who carved the “canals”, it was something: erosion. At some point in the past on planet Mars, it was warm and water flowed on the surface! This is one of the most exciting Mars facts! It was this water flowing that carved the features on Mars. Once the water dried up, only the dry riverbeds were left behind.
Scientists have not yet confirmed for certain that liquid water currently exists on Mars. However, the fact that there was flowing water on Mars at one time is now accepted, and is one of the important Mars facts. This liquid water tells us there may have been the possibility of life on the planet. Recent space missions have confirmed water in ice and vapor forms currently on the planet.
6. Mars Is Red Because It’s a Rusty Planet
One of the most obvious and best-known Mars facts is that Mars is red. The planet has been visible from Earth long before the invention of the telescope. Ancient people could see the faint red dot floating in the sky. It would be many thousands of years until people knew why Mars was red.
So, why is Mars red? Well, you could call Mars the rusty planet. Mars is a red or red-orange color because of the presence of iron in the soil. When iron combines with oxygen, it turns into iron oxide, or what we typically call rust.
Rust isn’t always red or red orange. Depending on the presence of other chemicals, the rust of iron can be yellow, green, and even black. When we look at Mars close-up through a telescope, we can see some of these other colors too. So, the next time someone asks, “Why is Mars red?”, tell them, “The Sun forgot to clean up its toys and left Mars out in the rain”.
As funny as that sounds, it’s partly the truth, and this is one of the interesting Mars facts for kids that shows how Earth and Mars are similar. Iron on Mars rusts the same way that it does here on Earth.
7. Mars Has a Mountain 3 Times Bigger Than Mount Everest
One of the most distinguishing features of Mars is a large volcano called Olympus Mons. The mountain formed by this volcano is so large, scientists have known of its existence since the 1800s, when it was first discovered with telescopes. It’s the largest volcano in the Solar System!
The volcano is aptly named: Olympus Mons is the Latin name for Mount Olympus. Mount Olympus was the home of the gods in Greek mythology. At over 14 miles, or more than 20 kilometers high, Olympus Mons towers over the mountains of Earth. Olympus Mons is three times the height of Mount Everest, the Earth’s tallest mountain!
The existence of Olympus Mons is another one of the Mars facts that tells us about the similarities between Mars and Earth. The huge volcanic mountain formed in a similar way to the volcanic mountains that formed the islands of Hawaii, here on Earth. When you measure Mauna Kea, a volcano on the main island of Hawaii, from the bottom of the sea floor, it’s larger than Mount Everest. However, Mauna Kea measured from the sea floor is still only about half the size of Mars’ giant volcano mountain, Olympus Mons!
8. Mars Has 2 Moons That Measure Less Than 15 Miles in Diameter
We know from our Mars facts that the name Mars is from the Roman god of war. In Greek mythology, Mars is known as Ares. Mars’ children, Phobos and Deimos, would accompany Mars into every battle. Phobos represents fear, and Deimos represents terror.
Don’t worry, fear and terror won’t be coming near the Earth any time soon – they are locked into orbit around Mars! Mars’ moons are much smaller than Earth’s moon. Deimos and Phobos both measure less than 15 miles in diameter.
One of the Mars facts that remains a mystery to us is just how Mars got its moons. Some scientists have speculated that they were asteroids, which were captured by Mars’ gravity. Other scientists think Phobos and Deimos might be fragments of Mars that were ejected off the planet after an asteroid impact, and then the fragments coalesced together in orbit.
A third hypothesis is that Phobos and Deimos might be fragments of an asteroid that broke off after impacting Mars. Clearly, the origin of Mars’ moons is one of the Mars facts that is yet to be fully established!
9. It’s Been over 75 Years since the War of the Worlds Shocked Americans
One thing is for sure: humans are fascinated with Mars and the idea that there might be people on Mars. Let’s face, we’ve got Martian fever!
In the 1900s, as early radio technology emerged, many signals were heard when people pointed their antennas towards the sky. Often the source of the signals was unknown. Without a complete understanding of atmospheric disturbances, some early radio operators speculated these signals were coming from outer space. Many headlines were written about life on Mars, and Martian fever was pandemic in the early part of the century.
Perhaps the most famous of the modern tales of Martians is War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Wells wrote the story in 1898. However, it wasn’t until Orson Welles’ radio adaptation in 1938 that the story became a part of popular culture. Some people tuned into the radio show without knowing it was simply a play and thought it was breaking news that Martians were invading the Earth!
The story was recently remade as a movie and showed that Martian fever is just as contagious as it has always been! While scientists uncover new Mars facts with robotic rovers, science fiction writers stay one step ahead with fantastic stories about what the past or future of Mars might hold.
10. Mars Has Seasons like Earth, but with More Extreme Weather
One of the Mars facts that tells us more about the similarities between Mars and Earth is that Mars has seasons like Earth. The seasons on Mars and Earth are similar because both planets are tilted more than 20 degrees on their axis.
The seasons on Mars are more extreme than those we have on Earth for two reasons. These reasons tell us about the differences between Earth and Mars, and reveal some more interesting Mars facts.
Firstly, the orbit of the Earth is more circular than that of Mars. The orbit of Earth has little impact on our planet’s seasons. However, the orbit of Mars around the Sun is more elliptical, and the temperature is noticeably lower further away from the Sun.
Second, the main reason we have seasons on Earth is the tilt of the axis of Earth with respect to its orbital plane around the Sun. Mars’ axis is tilted even more than the Earth’s axis, causing more extreme seasonal variations.
With a more elliptical orbit and a more tilted axis, seasonal changes are more extreme on Mars than on Earth.
Fun Facts about Mars Summary
Mars, often known as “the red planet” has fascinated people throughout history. Many Mars facts were established during Ancient times, because the 4th planet from the Sun is visible in the night sky without the aid of a telescope. When telescopes were invented, “canals” on the planet’s surface were discovered that led some to believe there was intelligent life on Mars.
As a result of these observations, Mars has played a great role in cultural myths about Martians, or intelligent beings from Mars. Recent observations indicate that these “canals” were not carved by intelligent beings, but they were likely formed by flowing water.
Scientists have established many interesting facts about Mars. Recent space missions to Mars have revealed further information, including the presence of water in various forms on Mars. Water is one of the building blocks of life as we know it. While scientists have been unable to reveal any definite Mars facts about intelligent life on the planet, some scientists are actively pursuing the possibility that less complex life exists on Mars.
Mars was visible in the night sky long before telescopes were invented. Interesting facts about Mars have fascinated astronomers ever since they began to peer more closely at the red planet. It’s iron oxide that makes Mars red, and this tells us that Mars is similar to Earth, where iron also rusts when it’s left exposed to the elements.
The Martian atmosphere can’t sustain life as we know it, but scientists are chasing the prospect of microbial life on Mars and trying to discover more interesting facts about Mars. Basic forms of life may exist beneath the surface now, and may have existed on the surface of Mars in the past.