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Basics: Planet Mars

in: The Solar System

Author: Zhunoman

Created: 4th Feb 2022 (Edited: 6th Feb 2022)

Tags: Space Planets Moons

Mars is the forth planet from our Sun. It is one of Earth's closest neighbors, along with Venus.

Key Info:

Date Discovered: Unknown

Discovered By: Unknown

Mass: 641,693,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg

Volume: 163,115,609,799 km cubed

Age: about 4.5 billion years

Diameter: 6,779 km

Basics: Planet Mars

Main Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, Published: July 9, 2013

Mars is named after the Roman god of war. This is likely due to its red colour, being reminiscent of blood. The reason for this red colouration is down to the iron content oxidizing (otherwise known as rust!) The planet is often referred to as the red planet. This is one way in which it can be identified in the night sky; it is a bright red point of light. When it is in the right position, depending on where you are on Earth, it is clearly visible with the naked eye.

It is the forth planet from the Sun and, like Venus, it is a close neighbour. Due to its distance, and considering that is it terrestrial, this makes it extremely cold. The next planet, Jupiter, is considerably further from the Sun (well over 3 times further).

Mars is one of the main near-Earth space bodies to capture the interest of people. Venus is just too hard to explore due to heat and atmosphere concerns. Mercury, like the Moon, is probably not the most interesting looking of planets. Mars, on the other hand, can both be landed on, and explored in great detail. It has been known for its varied features that look very interesting close up. 


Surface Features

Many pictures taken from the Mars surface actually look almost identical to the surface of Earth, depending on the atmospheric conditions at the time. Photos do indeed indicate blue skies and fairly bright looking days. Note that the colours of images are just a representation of colour as viewed by the equipment. Technically (and somewhat difficult to explain) you would only see the “true” colours if you were there, looking through a clear visor. You most certainly cannot expose your eyes to the Mars atmosphere.

Obviously the Sun looks considerably smaller when seen from Mars, due to the distance. Even so, it can still brighten the planet quite impressively. Dust gets kicked up into the atmosphere, so this can affect what it looks like from space.

Due to Earth having a substantial covering of water, the surface of Mars has the same amount of dry area of Earth’s dry surface. The diameter of the whole planet is only half that of Earth. It has been determined however that Mars almost certainly had liquid water in the past... very long ago in the past.

Certain formations, substances and objects on the surface provide clues that there was once water flow. Some scientists have pointed out that the way certain areas look visually, is a clear indication of water flow in the past. The existence of certain chemicals also provides evidence of liquid water.



Similar to Earth and Venus, Mars does have an atmosphere; it is, however, considered “thin” in comparison to both Earth and Venus. Venus atmosphere is considered thick. The thickness is in reference to the density of gases within that atmosphere.

The main gas in the atmosphere of Mars is carbon dioxide; this is at 95%. The other 5% consists of mainly nitrogen (2.8%) and argon (2%). Other elements are only found in trace amounts. Oxygen makes up less than 0.2%, which is insufficient for any currently known form of life.



Mars has 2 very small moons, Phobos and Deimos (“fear” and “dread”), named after the Greek god of war’s chariot riders. These moons are so small that they do not have enough gravity to have formed into spheres like Earth’s moon. As a very rough comparison: if Earth’s moon was a basket-ball, the largest moon of Mars, Phobos, would be nothing more than a small marble. Deimos is half the diameter of Phobos.

Both moons are in very close orbit, unlike Earth’s moon. Phobos is so close it is predicted it will crash into Mars in about 50 million years. This could theoretically create rings around Mars.


Images and Videos


NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS, Published: December 15, 2021

Mars image


NASA/JPL-Caltech, Published: August 26, 2021

Mars image



Further Reading: