Mars has long been a beacon of hope and expectation to humanity, with its earth-like features, close proximity to Earth, and the real possibility of sending astronauts to live and work on the red planet.

On 18th February, that fantastic adventure will be one step closer when NASA’s rover, Perseverance touches down onto the Martian surface.

The planet is well-worth our fascination, as it has some very cool facts that set it apart from all the other planets in our solar system.

Feature Image: Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The Biggest Mountain in the Solar System is on Mars

Olympus Mons is a massive 21kms high and approximately 600km in diameter. Described as a shield volcano, scientists believe it could still be active due to evidence of recent lava flows.

Why Does Mars Glow Red?

Throughout history Mars was often feared due to its eerie red glow in the night sky. But now we know the red colour comes from Mars being covered in a fine dust of Iron Oxide. Mars is literally rusting!

Mars, Not Quite Like Earth

Earth’s orbit around the sun is 365 days where Mars takes 687. One day on Mars = 24 hours, 37 minutes. Gravity is 62% less than Earth so a rock would fall much slower on Mars. The atmosphere is made up of 96% carbon dioxide. Temperatures on Mars average a chilly -62°C compared to 14°C on Earth. And Earth is 71% liquid water whereas Mars appears only to have ice at the poles.

Mars Vs. Earth Facts

Home to a Mammoth Grand Canyon

Along with giant mountains, Mars also has a large canyon system named Valles Marineris, after the spacecraft Mariner 9 that discovered it. At its deepest the canyon is approximately 8kms deep, 200kms wide and spans 4,000kms near the Martian equator.

The Sunsets on Mars are Blue!

As beautiful as our sunsets are here on Earth, imagine witnessing a blue sunset on Mars! Sunset colours are a product of a planet’s atmosphere and how the particles in it, scatter sunlight. Mars’ atmosphere is dominated by larger dust particles and less atmospheric gas, creating unique sunsets.

Explaining the Phenomena

One Day, Mars Will Have it's Own Ring System

Mars has two small Moons, Phobos and Deimos. Imagine enjoying two full moons instead of one! Phobos, the larger moon is gradually spiralling inward, towards the planet. Within 40 million years it will crash into Mars and form a ring system, adding to the spectacle of the red planet. What a shame I’ll miss it!

Global Dust Storms on Mars

Massive dust storms the size of the United States, are common phenomena on Mars and they can last for days. Mars also experiences global dust storms that encircle the entire planet and NASA’s Curiosity Rover caught firsthand vision of one of these extreme storms that literally lasted for months.

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Join the perserverance rover as it touches down on 18th of February!

 You can be part of the adventure by tuning in to watch the landing live and participate in fun activities and receive updates as the space craft nears Mars.