Red dot in the night sky, Mars. The second smallest and fourth planet in our solar system. Mars is a rocky planet with a 1% atmosphere if compared with Earth’s atmosphere. From ancient Greeks to Elon musk, mars has been a point of discussion for humanity. Human civilization has been curious about mars for many centuries. The latest developments in the past 50 years are just breathtaking. Mars has been explored by Various unmanned missions such as Viking 1, Opportunity, Curiosity, etc. With the latest Perseverance Rover, NASA is trying to Seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for a possible return to Earth. Mars is cold, red, and rocky, but here are 5 fascinating facts about mars that everyone needs to know.
Ever wondered, why Mars is called the Red Planet? or to be more curious, why does it look red? The answer is Rust. Yes, you read that right. According to researchers, the iron minerals in the Martian surface oxidize. This dust covers almost the entire Martian surface. The thickest deposits of this reddish dust occur, such as the Tharsis area, the dust layer is probably not more than 2 m (7 feet) thick.
The atmosphere on Mars is largely composed of Carbon dioxide, but other gasses such as Nitrogen oxygen, water vapor, Methane, etc also make up the Martian atmosphere. If compared to Earth, the atmosphere of Mars is about 1%. To experience this on Earth, you need to go to an altitude of about 35-45 Kilometers above Earth’s Surface. These Low-density atmospheric conditions do not allow liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface.
Even though, Atmospheric conditions are not suitable for liquid water to exists on the planet. Mars does possess water in the shape of ice and water vapor. Though, numerous researches also suggest that liquid water used to flow on the Martian surface about 3.8 billion years ago. Today, most of the water can be found in the polar ice caps of the red planet( Can be seen in the image above ).
Mars is a cold planet with temperatures averaging between -5.7°C High to -78.5°C Low. The highest recorded temperature can reach 70 degrees for a brief time around Noon at the equator in the summer. These harsh temperatures do not allow oceans and rivers to form on the red planet, Which is an integral part of life to exist on any planet.
Life on Mars:
With a harsh climate, thin atmosphere, and lack of liquid water. Life on Mars is non-existent as of current researches. However, liquid water existed once on the Martian surface around 3.8 billion years ago. Some form of microbial life may have existed then, but no evidence has been found as of yet. But never say, never. As the recently landed perseverance rover is there to seek the signs of ancient life and enhance our understandings of the Red Planet for future endeavors.
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