Mars


Mars
orbit: 227,940,000 km (1.52 AU) from Sun
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in our Solar System. Mars is named after the mythological Roman god of war because it is a red planet, and red is the colour of blood.
Appearance.
Mars has two very small moons, called Phobos and Deimos. The planet Mars is made of rock. The ground there is red because of iron oxide (rust) in the rocks and dust. The planet has a small carbon dioxide atmosphere. The temperatures on Mars are colder than on Earth, because it is farther away from the Sun. There is some ice at the north and south poles of Mars, and also frozen carbon dioxide. Mars does not have any water on the surface now, except at the poles, but most scientists think it used to have water.
The average thickness of the planet's crust is about 50 km (31 mi), with a maximum thickness of 125 km (78 mi). Earth's crust, on average 40 km (25 mi), is three times smaller as Mars’ crust based to the sizes of the two planets if they are made equal.
History of Mars.
Mars has been known since old times. The Greeks named this planet Ares, after their god of war, but when the Romans took over the Greeks, they named the planet Mars.
Some of the first attempts at mapping Mars were done by Giovanni Schiaparelli. What he saw through his telescope confused him. He saw what he called "canali", which were ditches dug for water to pass through. This started a rumor that there were other animals and life on Mars, possibly even aliens. Today, we know there cannot be any such aliens.
Life, climate and atmosphere of Mars.
Because Mars is the closest to the Earth in the Solar System, people have wondered if there is any kind of life on Mars. Mars has the most similar seasons to Earth of all the planets in our Solar System. It also has a very similar tilt in its axis of 25 degree angle. However, since Mars is further than the Earth from the sun, the seasons of this planet last longer than those of Earth. As a result, a year in Mars is longer than a year in Earth.
The atmosphere of Mars is much thinner than Earth’s. Amazingly, surface temperatures can range from -113°C at the winter pole to 0°C on the dayside during summertime.
Popular culture.
Some famous stories were written about this idea. The writers used the name "Martians" for intelligent beings from Mars. In 1898 H. G. Wells wrote "The War of the Worlds", a famous novel about Martians attacking the Earth. In 1938, Orson Welles broadcast a radio version of this story in the United States, and many people thought it was really happening and were very afraid. Beginning in 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote several novels about adventures on Mars.
Today.
As of March 2008, scientists have not found life on Mars, either living now or extinct. Several space probes without people have gone to Mars to study it. Some have orbited (gone around) the planet, and some have landed on it. There are pictures of the surface of Mars that were sent back to Earth by some of these probes. Some people are interested in sending astronauts to visit Mars. This would be difficult. The astronauts would be in space for many years, and it could be very dangerous because of radiation from the sun.


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