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  • Mars is the
    second smallest planet
    in the solar system

  • It’s the
    fourth planet from the sun

  • One day in Mars
    is a little over 24 hours

  • One Martian year
    is 687 days

  • Mars is a
    rocky planet

  • Mars has two moons
    Phobos and Demos

  • Mars has a
    thin atmosphere

  • Mars appears red because of
    iron minerals in its soil

  • Mars has
    no global magnetic field

Named by ancient Romans for their God of War because of its reddish colour that resembled blood, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. A cold, dusty and desert planet, Mars has a very thin atmosphere. It has seasonal variations, polar ice caps, weather, canyons, mountains, extinct volcanoes, and other features that can be found in our own planet.

Mars is also the most explored extra-terrestrial body in our solar system. Humans have sent orbiters, probes, and landers to demystify the secrets of the red planet. While we have learnt a great deal from our past missions, there is a lot more to be learnt about the history, present and the future of Mars.

So far, our search has provided us with ample evidence that Mars was once a much warmer and wetter planet, with a thicker, more substantial atmosphere. So, what happened over billions of years that led to Mars turning into an arid world? Studying, in-depth, the atmosphere of Mars is the only way to uncover the story, which could not only help humans go to Mars, but also better understand our planet and its future.

The Martian Atmosphere

The thin atmosphere of Mars is mainly made up of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon gases. Mars is also frequently impacted by rogue objects from space like meteorites, asteroids and comets. The temperature on Mars can go from as high as 20 degrees Celsius to as low as -153 degree Celsius. The heat from the Sun escapes the Red Planet quite easily, and this difference in temperature can be experienced if you were on Mars. If you were to be standing on Mars' surface at noon on the equator, it would feel like spring at your feet (24 degrees Celsius) and winter at your head (0 degrees Celsius). Occasionally, Mars witnesses strong winds causing storms of dust which could potentially cover the entire planet for months.

Size and distance

Mars is only about half the size of Earth with a radius of 3,390 km. Mars is 1.5 astronomical units away from the Sun from an average distance of 228 million kilometres. One astronomical unit ( abbreviated as AU) is the distance between the Earth and the Sun.


At its centre, Mars has a dense core between 1,500 and 2,100 km in radius. It is made mostly of iron, nickel, and sulphur. The core is surrounded by a rocky mantle between 1,240 and 1,880 km thick and above that a crust made of iron, magnesium, aluminium, calcium and potassium. This crust is somewhere between 10 and 50 km deep.


Though Mars appears red, the surface of the planet is composed of several colours including gold, brown, and tan. The reason Mars appears reddish is due to iron oxidation — or rusting — in the rocks, regolith (Martian "soil"), and Mars dust. This dust gets swept up into the atmosphere and makes the planet look mostly red from a distance.


Mars has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos, that may be captured asteroids. They’re potato-shaped because they have too little mass for gravity to make them spherical. The moons get their names from the horses that pulled the chariot of the Greek god of war, Ares. In ancient Greek, Phobos means “flight,” and Deimos means “fear.”

comparison between
earth and mars

AVERAGE DISTANCE FROM SUNEarth : 149 million kmMars : 228 million km
AVERAGE SPEED IN ORBITING SUNEarth : 30 km per secondMars : 23 km per second
DIAMETEREarth : 12,755 kmMars : 6,791 km
TITLE OF AXISEarth : 23.5 degreesMars : 25 degrees
LENGTH OF YEAREarth : 365.25 DaysMars : 687 Earth Days
LENGTH OF DAYEarth : 23 hours 56 minutesMars : 24 hours 37 minutes
GRAVITYEarth : 2.66 times that of MarsMars : 0.375 times that of Earth
TEMPERATUREEarth : Average 14 degree CelsiusMars : Average -63 degree Celsius
ATMOSPHEREEarth : nitrogen, oxygen, argon, othersMars : mostly carbon dioxide, some water vapor
NUMBER OF MOONSEarth : 1Mars : 2