Interesting facts about Mars
- Earth and Mars formed around the same time, roughly 4.5 billion years ago. They both are terrestrial, meaning they are rocky planets composed of metals and silicate minerals. They also both had a geologically active past, which is indicated by the many massive features on Mars. These include Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano in the Solar System, and Valles Marineris - 7 km (23,000 ft) deep, whereas the Grand Canyon is 6,093 feet deep.
- Second, Mars has a similar diurnal and seasonal cycle as Earth. Basically, a day on Mars last 24 hours, 37 minutes and 22 seconds. And while a year is about twice as long - about 687 days - it experiences similar seasonal changes during the course of a year. During winter at the poles, temperatures can get as low as -143 °C, but can reach as high as 35 °C during midday at the equator.
- But most of all, I think the most mind-blowing fact about Mars is the fact that it once had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water on its surface. In fact, a large ocean covered most of its northern hemisphere at one point. There’s also lots of indications that it had rivers and lakes, as evidenced by all the clay-bearing minerals and alluvial deposits across the planet. Unfortunately, between 4.2 and 3.7 billion years ago, Mars began to lose its magnetic field, which resulted in its atmosphere being slowly stripped away by solar wind.
- That’s how Mars became the cold, desiccated place it is today. But the evidence of its past is preserved in its sedimentary rocks, its lakebeds, and its polar ice caps. It’s also believed that there are vast ice deposits beneath the surface. For this reason, many scientists believe that Mars could be terraformed one day. This would be done by melting its polar ice caps, thickening its atmosphere and warming up its environment, thus converting it to something more Earth-like.
- And in the coming years, missions like Mars 2020 rover and the ExoMars 2020 rover might just find evidence that microbial life once existed there too. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty mind-blowing!
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