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Explore Mars

Student Planet Facts

Mars has the largest canyon in the solar system

Mars has the largest canyon in the solar system. It would reach from Los Angeles to Chicago if it was on Earth!

The Mysterious Red Planet, Mars is actually more butterscotch in color. From science fiction to the Mars Pathfinder mission, this barren orb continues to fascinate us. Here are some facts and other places you can find information.

Mars has a very thin atmosphere, mostly carbon dioxide, but dust storms can cover the whole planet for months at a time. About every two years the Earth and Mars come close together. The planet has two moons: Deimos and Phobos.

Ideas for a manned mission to MarsIt would take about 6 months for a spacecraft to get to Mars but the crew would have to wait a year and a half before returning. While there are no current plans for a manned mission to Mars you can see some designs at this NASA website, Mars Mission.

Olympus Mons, a 550 km wide volcano Olympus Mons, a 550 km wide volcano, is the largest volcano in the solar system and covers an area about the size of Arizona. It is 27 km high in contrast to Mount Everest on Earth at 8.85 km. Click on image for a detail view.

There are a number of volcanoes on Mars but none seem to be geologically active. Mars also has large canyons, dust storms, sand dunes, polar ice caps and other features similar to those found on Earth.

Click to Start Field Trip to Mars Field Trip to Mars, Mars Features on Earth
is a self-guided excursion to view various sites located on or near the central plateau of Washington that correlate to features found on Mars.
Included is a section on volcanoes with a page about Mount St Helens, an active volcano that "blew its top" in 1980. Also included is information on Mars Pathfinder, earthquakes, giant floods, sand dunes, lava flows, dust devils, and geological background material. Click image or here to go to Field Trip to Mars.

How much would you weigh on the Mars?
Type your weight in here:
You would weigh about:

Gravity and You
Your weight on Earth is determined by your mass and Earth's mass. Click for Planet Myths and Lore
Would you weigh more or less on Mars?

Planet Names
Why are the planets named for Roman gods? Is there a story or myth about the sun? Click image or here for Planet Myths and Lore.

Click for Mars Opposition pageClose Encounter with Mars
Every two years or so the Sun, Earth and Mars line up. This is called an opposition. In 2003, Earth and Mars was really close. Click image or here for Mars Opposition 2003 page. (Hubble ST image)

Missions to Mars
There are three current missions to Mars that you might want to learn more about: The Mars Exploration Rovers, the Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Odyssey programs.

Click for Mars Exploration Rovers Robot Geologists
Taking advantage of the close approach of Mars, two rovers were launched and arived on Mars in January, 2004. These Mars Exploration Rovers are now studying our neighbor from opposite sides of the planet.

Go to Mars Global Surveyor website Mars Global Surveyor
In November 1996, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began America's return to Mars after a 20-year absence by launching the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. Since then, Surveyor has returned an unprecedented amount of data regarding Mars' surface features, atmosphere, and magnetic properties. The mapping phase of the mission began in mid-March 1999. During mapping operations, the spacecraft circles Mars once every 118 minutes at an average altitude of 378 kilometers (235 miles).

Go to Mars Odyssey website Mars Odyssey
2001 Mars Odyssey is an orbiter carrying science experiments designed to make global observations of Mars to improve our understanding of the planet's climate and geologic history, including the search for water and evidence of life-sustaining environments. On April 7, 2001, the 2001 Mars Odyssey was launched on a Delta II launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After arriving in orbit in October, 2001, the spacecraft began its science mapping orbit (for 917 Earth days) and serves as a communications relay for U.S. and international landers arriving at Mars in 2003/2004.

Blast off on a Planetary Scavenger Hunt! Planetary Scavenger Hunt!
You will need to gather some facts,
compare your data and answer some questions.
Click here to blast off!

Quick Facts about the Mars
Topic Data
Diameter 6794.4 km
Density 3.94 g/cm3
Mass 6.421 x 1023 kg
Volume 1.643 x 1011 km3
Temperature Range -140° C to 20° C
Atmosphere Mostly Carbon Dioxide
Winds Up to 100 km/hr
Moons 2
Average Distance from Sun 227,940,000 km
Orbital Period 1 Years, 320 Days, 18.2 Hours
Rotation 1 Days, 0.67 Hours
Tilt 25.19°
Rings No
Composition Iron Oxides and Silicates
Magnetic Field Slight

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