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Mars is the second-smallest planet in the solar system after Mercury and the fourth planet from the sun. Mars is named after the Roman god of war “Ares” and is often referred to as the “Red Planet”. The ancient Egyptians named it “Her Dasher”, meaning “the red one”, while ancient Chinese astronomers called it “the fire star”.
See the fact file below for more information on Mars or alternatively, you can download our 28-page Mars worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Iron-rich minerals in its regolith – the loose dust and rock covering its surface – gives Mars its bright rust color. The iron minerals oxidize or rust causing the solid soil to look red.
- Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to its low atmospheric pressure (there’s not enough atmosphere to prevent it being lost to space).
- Of all the planets in the solar system, the seasons of Mars are the most Earth-like, due to the similar tilts of the two planets’ rotational axes. Due to its greater distance from the sun, Mars is much colder than Earth, though.
- The average temperature is about minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 60 degrees Celsius), although it can vary from minus 195 F (minus 125 C) near the poles during the winter to as much as 70 F (20 C) at midday near the equator.
Mountains on Mars
- Mars is home to the highest known mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons, which is about 370 miles (600 km) in diameter, wide enough to cover the entire state of New Mexico.
- Mars has one of the most varied and interesting terrains of any of the terrestrial planets, some of it is quite spectacular:
Olympus Mons: The largest mountain in the solar system, rising 24 km (78,000 ft.) above the surrounding plain. Its base is more than 500 km in diameter and is rimmed by a cliff 6 km (20,000 ft) high.
Tharsis: A huge bulge on the Martian surface that is about 4000 km across and 10 km high.
Valles Marineris: A system of canyons 4000 km long and from 2 to 7 km deep.
Mars and Its Moons
- In 1877, the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, were discovered by American astronomer Asap Hall.
- Hall named the moons after the son of the Greek war god Ares – Phobos means “fear”, while Deimos means “panic”.
- It was around 2000 B.C. that ancient Egyptian astronomers started recording their observations of Mars.
- Detailed observations of the location of Mars were made by Babylonian astronomers who developed methods using math to predict the future position of the planet.
- In the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a model for the solar system in which the planets follow circular orbits about the sun. This ‘heliocentric’ model was the beginning of modern astronomy. It was revised by Johannes Kepler, who gave an elliptical orbit, which better fits the data from our observations.
- In 1610, the first observations of Mars by telescope was by Galileo Galilei.
- In 1672, when the telescope became available to more people, the diurnal parallax of Mars was again measured in an effort to determine the distance of the Earth from the sun. This was first performed by Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
- The first person to draw a map of Mars that displayed any terrain features was the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens.
Research and Exploration
- Robotic spacecraft began observing Mars in the 1960s, with the United States launching Mariner 4 there in 1964 and Mariners 6 and 7 in 1969. Observations revealed Mars to be a barren world, without any signs of life or civilizations that people had imagined there.
- It was in the 1960s and early 1970s when the Soviet Union launched numerous spacecraft, but most of those missions failed. Mars 2 (1971) and Mars 3 (1971) operated successfully, but were unable to map the surface due to dust storms.
- NASA’s Viking 1 lander touched down on the surface of Mars in 1976, the first successful landing onto the Red Planet. It took the first close-up pictures of the Martian surface but found no strong evidence for life.
- The United States launched the Mars Odyssey probe in 2001, which discovered vast amounts of water ice beneath the Martian surface, mostly in the upper three feet (one meter). It remains uncertain whether more water lies underneath since the probe cannot see water any deeper.
- Mars is far from an easy planet to reach. NASA, Russia, the European Space Agency, China, Japan and the Soviet Union collectively lost many spacecraft in their quest to explore the Red Planet. Notable examples include:
1992 — NASA’s Mars Observer
1996 — Russia’s Mars 96
1998 — NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter, Japan’s Nozomi
1999 — NASA’s Mars Polar Lander
2003 — ESA’s Beagle 2 lander
2011 — Russia’s Fobus-Grunt mission to Phobos with the Chinese Yinghuo-1 orbiter
2016 — ESA’s Schiaparelli test lander
Mars fun facts
- Mars is 141,633,260 miles from the sun.
- A year lasts 687 days, almost twice as long as a year on Earth.
- One day on Mars is 24 hours and 37 minutes, almost the same length as an Earth day.
- The temperature on Mars ranges from -125 degrees to a balmy 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr!
- Huge dust storms occur on Mars. These dust storms sculpt the land.
- One huge canyon on Mars stretches a distance that is the same as the distance from New York to Los Angeles.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Mars across 28 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Mars worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Mars which is the second-smallest planet in the solar system after Mercury and the fourth planet from the sun. Mars is named after the Roman god of war “Ares” and is often referred to as the “Red Planet”. The ancient Egyptians named it “Her Dasher”, meaning “the red one”, while ancient Chinese astronomers called it “the fire star”.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Mars Facts
- Discovering Mars
- Getting Physical
- Why “The Red Planet”?
- Fill Me In
- Two Moons In One
- Color Mars
- Inside and Out
- Know It!
- It’s All About Mars
- Life on the Red Planet?
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Link will appear as Mars Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 17, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.