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Formation

Formation

When the solar system settled into its current layout about 4.5 billion years ago, Mars formed when gravity pulled swirling gas and dust in to become the fourth planet from the Sun. 

Mars is about half the size of Earth, and like its fellow terrestrial planets, it has a central core, a rocky mantle, and a solid crust.

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Quick facts

Quick facts

Day: 24.6 hours

Year: 669.6 sols / 687 earth days

Radius: 2,106 miles / 3.390 kilometers

Planet type: Terrestrial

Temperature: The temperature on Mars can be as high as 70 degrees Fahrenhe...

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Surface

Surface

The red planet is actually many colors. At the surface, we see colors as brown, gold, and tan. The reason Mars looks reddish is due to oxidization—or rusting—of iron in the rocks, regolith (Martian “soil”), and dust of Mars. This dust gets kicked up into the atmosphere and from a distance makes t...

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Structure

Structure

Mars has a dense core at its center between 930 and 1,300 miles (1,500 to 2,100 kilometers) in radius. It's made of iron, nickel, and sulfur. 

Surrounding the core is a rocky mantle between 770 and 1,170 miles (1,240 to 1,880 kilometers) thick, and above that, a crust made of iron, magnesiu...

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Mars

Mars

Mars was named by the ancient Romans for their god of war because its reddish color was reminiscent of blood. 

Other civilizations also named the planet for this attribute; for example, the Egyptians called it "Her Desher," meaning "the red one." Even today, it is frequently called the "Red...

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Size and distance

Size and distance

With a radius of 2,106 miles (3,390 kilometers), Mars is about half the size of Earth. 

If Earth were the size of a nickel, Mars would be about as big as a raspberry.

From an average distance of 142 million miles (228 million kilometers), Mars is 1.5 astronomical units away from the S...

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Exploration

Exploration

No planets beyond earth has been studied as much as mars. Recorded observations of Mars date as far back as the era of ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago, when they charted the planet's movements in the sky.

Today, an international fleet of robotic spacecraft study Mars from all ang...

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Orbit an rotation

Orbit an rotation

As mars orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 24,6 hours, which is very similar to one day on Earth (23.9 hours). Martian days are called sols—short for "solar day." A year on Mars lasts 669.6 sols, which is the same as 687 Earth days.

Mars' axis of rotation is tilted 25 degrees w...

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Moons

Moons

Mars has to small moons 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.

  • Phobos, the innermost and larger mo...

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Magnetoshpere

Mars has no global magnetoshpere today, but areas of the Martian crust in the southern hemisphere are highly magnetized, indicating traces of a magnetic field from 4 billion years ago.​

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Potential for life

Potential for life

Scientists don't expect to find living things currently thriving on Mars. Instead, they're looking for signs of life that existed long ago, when Mars was warmer and covered with water.

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Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide , nitrogen, and argon gases. To our eyes, the sky would be hazy and red because of suspended dust instead of the familiar blue tint we see on Earth. Mars' sparse atmosphere doesn't offer much protection from impacts by such objects as me...

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Rings

Mars has no rings However, in 50 million years when Phobos crashes into Mars or breaks apart, it could create a dusty ring around the Red Planet.

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Formation

Formation

When the solar system settled into its current layout about 4.5 billion years ago, Venus formed when gravity pulled swirling gas and dust together to form the second planet from the Sun. 

Like its fellow terrestrial planets, Venus has a central core, a rocky mantle and a solid crust.

Formation

Formation

Uranus took shape when the rest of the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago, when gravity pulled swirling gas and dust in to become this ice giant. 

Like its neighbor Neptune, Uranus likely formed closer to the Sun and moved to the outer solar system about 4 billion years ago, wh...

Formation

Formation

Saturn took shape when the rest of the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago, when gravity pulled swirling gas and dust in to become this gas giant. 

About 4 billion years ago, Saturn settled into its current position in the outer solar system, where it is the sixth planet from th...

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