Mars Facts for Kids
What is your favorite planet? Many people like Earth since it’s the planet we live on and some people like Saturn for its beautiful rings, but I like Mars. Mars is a fascinating planet in our solar system. It is the second smallest planet known for its reddish appearance. Do you know why it appears red? That’s because the surface of Mars contains iron oxide or rust. Despite this, Mars is thought to be able to support human life and has actually shown evidence that suggests the planet did once house microbial life. How cool is that? Would you ever move to Mars? Before you make your decision, make sure you educate yourself on what you are getting in to. Keep reading to learn all the Mars facts for kids.
The Position and Size of Mars
1. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the 4th planet in our solar system. The average distance from Mars to the Sun is about 141 million miles (227 million kilometers).
2. Mars is about half the size of Earth, with a diameter of about 4,220 miles (6,779 kilometers). It is the second smallest planet, second only to Mercury.
Mars Facts for Kids – The Temperature and Climate on Mars
3. The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 63 degrees Celsius) although the temperature on Mars can range from minus 225 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 153 degrees Celsius) at the north and south poles to highs of up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) near the equator.
4. Mars has distinct seasons due to its elliptical orbit around the Sun. The Martian winter is long and cold, while the summer is short and warm.
5. Mars has polar ice caps made of water ice and carbon dioxide ice. These polar caps grow and shrink with the changing seasons, adjusting the temperature on Mars.
The Surface of Mars
6. Mars is believed to have formed about 4.5 billion years ago and is thought to have once had large oceans of water on its surface.
7. The planet Mars is also known as the “Red Planet” because of its reddish appearance. The red color of Mars is caused by iron oxide, or rust, on the planet’s surface.
8. Mars is home to the tallest mountain and largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. The highest mountain stands 16 miles (24 kilometers) high. Wow!
9. Mars has giant canyons and valleys that are much deeper and longer than those on Earth. The Gale Crater on Mars is 96 miles (154 kilometers) wide and holds a three-mile (five-kilometer) high mountain of layered rocks called Mount Sharp.
Dust Storms on Mars
10. Since the surface of Mars is dry, dusty, and cold Mars has huge dust storms that ravish the planet. Mars is known for having the largest dust storms in the entire solar system! They can last for months and cover the entire planet.
11. Dust storms on Mars can reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface by up to 99 percent.
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Mars Facts for Kids – Days and Years on Mars
12. A solar day on Mars, called a “sol,” lasts 24 hours and 40 minutes. Do you know how long a day on Earth lasts? That’s right! 24 hours. A day on Earth and a day on Mars are very similar in length.
13. However, a year on Mars is almost double that of Earth! A year on Mars takes 687 Earth days.
The Moons and Atmosphere of Mars
14. Mars has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos, which orbit close to the planet’s surface.
15. Mars has a thin atmosphere that consists mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon and trace amounts of other gases. It is only about one percent as dense as Earth’s atmosphere.
Mars Facts for Kids – Spacecraft on Mars
16. The first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars was NASA’s Viking 1 in 1976.
17. There are currently six spacecraft orbiting Mars and four rovers or landers on the Martian surface, including NASA’s Curiosity rover.
18. NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars since 2012 and discovered evidence of life. It is likely Mars could have supported microbial life in the past.
19. NASA’s Opportunity rover discovered evidence that water once flowed on Mars. There were signs of ancient floods across the surface of Mars, indicating that there was a presence of water on the planet during ancient times. So, the question becomes, will the water ever come back? And when it does, will it be enough to support human-like life forms? What do you think?
That was a lot of information to take in, but there are so many cool Mars facts. Mars is a truly fascinating planet and the idea that it could have supported life and may support life again in the future, absolutely stuns me. If this were to be the case, would you relocate to Mars? What do you think it would be like living there? Would your neighbors look similar to us or would they appear different? How about animals? What pets do you think you could have on Mars? There are so many questions and so many possibilities, but one thing is for sure, researchers and scientists will continue to search the surface of Mars until the end of time. What do you think they will discover next?
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