Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. It is named after Roman god of war. Mars is also called as the “Red Planet” because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.
Mars is more than 142 million miles from the sun. The planet is about one-sixth the size of Earth. It has two small moons. Their names are Phobos and Deimos.
Mars is very cold. The average temperature on Mars is minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Length of a year on Mars will be 1 year and 687 days and the length of a day of Mars is 24 hours and 39 minutes long.
Things weigh less on Mars than they weigh on Earth because Mars has about one-third the gravity of Earth. A person who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would only weigh about 37 pounds on Mars because of less gravity.
Two robots that move, called rovers, are exploring Mars’ surface. Their names are Opportunity and Curiosity. The rovers travel around taking pictures and looking closely at the planet’s soil and rocks. NASA uses pictures and information from the spacecraft and the rovers to learn more about Mars.
A new Mars rover is planned for launch in 2020.
NASA also wants to send astronauts to Mars someday. To get ready to send humans to Mars, NASA is studying new kinds of homes where astronauts can live. Scientists are studying how people in space could grow plants for food. By watching what happens to astronauts on the International Space Station, scientists are finding out how living in space affects humans.
Image Credit: www.nasa.gov