Mars is a constant point of discussion for space explorers around the world. We’ve sent dozens of spacecraft there to study it. Some want to land astronauts on it. The planet is just far away to make that dream difficult, but just close enough to spark our imagination. But these 5 facts will have you saying, “huh I didn’t know that”
1. Mars Has Frozen Water Today
Mars has a thin atmosphere that does not allow water to flow or remain in large quantities on the surface, but we know for sure that there is ice at the poles — and possibly frosty locations elsewhere on the planet.
2. The Planet is Named After Mars, the Roman God of War
It was known to the ancient Greeks as Ares, their god of war. This is thought to be because of the blood-red color of the planet which was also used by other ancient cultures. Chinese astronomers call Mars the “fire star” while ancient Egyptian priests called it “Her Desher” meaning “the red one”.
3. With the Exception of Earth, Mars is the Most Hospitable to Life
A number of space missions are planning for the next decade the further increase our understanding of Mars and when it has the potential for extraterrestrial life, as well as whether it may be a viable planet for a colony.
4. One Day Mars Will Have a Ring
In the next 20-40 million years Mars’ largest moon Phobos will be torn apart by gravitational forces leading to the creation of a ring that could last up to 100 million years.
5. Mars is Home to the Tallest Mountain in the Solar System
Olympus Mons, a shield volcano, is 21km high and 600km in diameter. Despite having formed over billions of years, evidence from volcanic lava flows is so recent many scientists believe it could still be active.