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Table of Contents
Mars is one of the closest planets on Earth and the fourth planet from the sun (Venus is the other). Mars is one of the night sky’s most visible planets, appearing as a brilliant red light point. Even though Mars is hostile to people, robotic explorers such as NASA‘s new Perseverance rover are working as trailblazers someday to bring humans to the Red Planet’s surface.
See the fact file below for more information on Mars or alternatively, you can download our 28-page Mars worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Mars is the fourth of the sun’s planets and the next most minor planet in the Solar System, larger only than Mercury. In English, Mars is named after the Roman god of combat.
- With a thin atmosphere, Mars is a terrestrial planet with a crust composed of components equivalent to those found in the Earth’s crust and an iron and nickel core.
- Surface features of Mars include impact craters, valleys, dunes, and polar ice caps. It features two tiny moons with odd shapes: Phobos and Deimos.
- Olympus Mons, the giant volcano and tallest known peak on any planet in the Solar System, and Valles Marineris, one of the enormous canyons in the Solar System, are two of Mars’ most remarkable surface features.
- The Northern Hemisphere‘s Borealis basin encompasses around 40% of the Earth and may represent a considerable impact feature. Mars has days and seasons similar to Earth because the planets have an equal trajectory period and inclination of the rotational axis relative to the ecliptic plane.
- Because of the low air pressure on Mars’ surface, which is less than 1% of that on Earth, liquid water cannot exist. Both of Mars’ polar ice caps appeared to be mostly water.
NAMESAKE AND FORMATION
- Mars was called after the Roman god of battle because its scarlet tint resembled blood. Other cultures also named the planet for this feature; for example, the Egyptians dubbed it “Her Desher,” which means “the red one.”
- Mars is typically referred to as the “Red Planet” because iron particles in Martian dirt oxidize or rust, leaving the surface red.
- Mars originated when gravity pushed spinning gas and dust into the solar system around 4.5 billion years ago to become the fourth planet from the sun.
- Mars is almost half the size of Earth, and it has a central core, a rocky mantle, and a solid crust, just like the other terrestrial planets.
SIZE AND DISTANCE
- Mars is roughly half the size of Earth, with a radius of 2,106 miles (3,390 km). Mars would be approximately the size of raspberry if Earth were a nickel.
- Mars is 1.5 astronomical units distant from the sun at an average distance of 142 million miles (228 million km).
- The distance between the Sun and Earth is measured in astronomical units (abbreviated as AU). From this range, it takes light 13 minutes to get from the Sun to Mars.
ORBIT AND ROTATION
- Mars orbits the sun once every 24.6 hours, or about one day on Earth (23.9 hours).
- Sols are Martian days that are short for “solar day.” A calendar year on Mars lasts 669.6 sols, equal to 687 Earth days.
- Mars’ rotation axis is 25 degrees inclined about the plane of its circle around the sun. Another resemblance with Earth is the axial angle of 23.4°.
- Mars, like Earth, has distinctive seasons, although they stay longer since Mars takes more time to circle the sun (due to its greater distance). And, unlike on Earth, where seasons span three months (or one quarter of a year), seasons on Mars fluctuate in duration due to Mars’ elliptical, egg-shaped revolves around the sun.
- With 194 sols, spring is the most extended season in the northern hemisphere (autumn in the southern). Autumn is the shortest season in the northern hemisphere (spring in the south), lasting 142 days. Northern winter/southern summer corresponds to 154 sols, whereas north summer/southern winter corresponds to 178 sols.
- Mars has a thick core with a radius of 930 to 1,300 miles (1,500 to 2,100 km). It is constructed of iron, nickel, and sulfur.
- A thick rocky mantle 770 to 1,170 miles (1,240 to 1,880 km) surrounds the core, and above it is a crust consisting of iron, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, and potassium.
- This crust is thick at 6 to 30 miles (10 to 50 km).
- The Red Planet is truly a rainbow of hues. On the surface, we observe brown, gold, and tan tones. Mars’ reddish appearance is caused by the oxidization – or rusting – of iron in its rocks, regolith (Martian “soil”), and dust. This dust is thrown into the atmosphere, making the planet seem predominantly red.
- Surprisingly, although almost half the size of Earth, Mars’ surface contains approximately the same area as Earth’s dry land. Over many years, Mars’ volcanoes, impact craters, crustal movement, and atmospheric conditions such as sandstorms have transformed the surface, resulting in some of the solar system’s most fascinating topographical features.
- Valles Marineris is a vast canyon that stretches more than 3,000 miles from California to New York (4,800 kilometers). This Martian canyon spans 200 miles (320 km) and is 4.3 miles (7 km) deep, around ten times the dimensions of the Grand Canyon on Earth.
- Olympus Mons, the giant volcano in the solar system, is located on Mars; it’s three times taller than Mt. Everest and has a base the size of New Mexico.
- Mars appears to have had a wet history, as evidenced by ancient river valley systems, deltas, lakebeds, and rocks and minerals on the ground that could have developed only in liquid water. Some evidence indicates that massive floods occurred on Mars around 3.5 billion years ago.
- There is water on Mars now, but the atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to persist on the surface for a long time. Water may be found on Mars today in the form of water-ice close beneath the character in the Polar Regions, as well as saline (salty) water that runs seasonally down certain hillsides and crater walls.
MOONS AND RINGS
- There are no rings on Mars. However, if Phobos collides with or splits up with Mars after 50 million years, it may leave a dusty ring around the Red Planet.
- Mars has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, which might be asteroids. Because they have an insufficient mass for gravity to make them spherical, they are potato-shaped. The moons were named after the horses carrying Ares’s chariot, the Greek god of battle. The two little moons, Phobos and Deimos, are described here.
- The largest, innermost moon is extensively cratered, with extensive grooves on its surface. It is slowly approaching Mars and will either collide with it or split apart in around 50 million years.
- Deimos is almost half the size of Phobos and circles Mars twice as far away. Deimos is oddly shaped and coated in loose soil, frequently covering the craters on top, making it look smoother than pockmarked Phobos.
- Mars has a thin atmosphere composed mainly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon. Instead of the typical blue hue we perceive on Earth, the sky would be hazy and crimson due to suspended dust.
- Mars’s thin atmosphere provides little protection against strikes from meteorites, asteroids, and comets.
- Mars’ temperature may range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 ° C) to -225 ℉ (-153° C). The heat from the sun rapidly departs this planet due to its thin atmosphere.
- At noon on the surface of Mars, it would feel like spring at your feet (75℉ or 24 ° C) and winter at your head (32 ℉ or 0 ° C).
- Winds on Mars are occasionally powerful enough to cause dust storms that blanket most of the planet. It might take months for the dust to settle after such salvos.
- Mars no longer has a worldwide magnetic field. However, portions of the Martian crust in the southern hemisphere are strongly magnetized, indicating the presence of a magnetic field 4 billion years ago.
POTENTIAL FOR LIFE
- Scientists do not anticipate uncovering any living organisms on Mars right now. Instead, they’re seeking evidence of past life on Mars, when it was warmer and wetter.
- 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
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 Mars, which is one of the closest planets on Earth and the fourth planet from the sun (Venus is the other).
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?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mars?
Mars is the fourth of the sun’s planets and the next most minor planet in the Solar System, larger only than Mercury. In English, Mars is named after the Roman god of combat.
How did Mars get its name?
Mars was called after the Roman god of battle because its scarlet tint resembled blood. Other cultures also named the planet for this feature; for example, the Egyptians dubbed it “Her Desher,” which means “the red one.”
How did Mars form?
Mars originated when gravity pushed spinning gas and dust into the solar system around 4.5 billion years ago to become the fourth planet from the sun. Mars is almost half the size of Earth, and it has a central core, a rocky mantle, and a solid crust, just like the other terrestrial planets.
Is Mars red?
The Red Planet is truly a rainbow of hues. On the surface, we observe brown, gold, and tan tones. Mars’ reddish appearance is caused by the oxidization – or rusting – of iron in its rocks, regolith (Martian “soil”), and dust. This dust is thrown into the atmosphere, making the planet seem predominantly red.
Can humans live on Mars?
Scientists do not anticipate uncovering any living organisms on Mars right now. Instead, they’re seeking evidence of past life on Mars, when it was warmer and wetter.
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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.