There are eight planets in our beloved solar system (or nine, depending on how attached you are to Pluto, but let’s not get into that), however none has managed to gain the popularity that Mars has. For some reason, the first planet that comes to our heads when we think of extraterrestrial life possibly existing out in the infinity of the universe is Mars. It’s also the number one option of people who consider one day ditching Earth for, hopefully, a better and worry-free life. The question is, why is that? What makes Mars so much better and fascinating than the other inhabitants of the solar system? In our quest to seek the answers that will satiate our curiosity, we found several cool facts about Mars, by the end of which you might be able to say that it’s indeed one of the best planets out there.
1. Tallest Mountain in Our Solar System
If you’re thinking that Mount Everest’s height is impressive, then you haven’t heard about the tallest mountain in our solar system yet. Olympus Mons is a shield volcano that’s over several billion years old and it’s three times taller than Earth’s mightiest peak, at a height of roughly 21 kilometers. In fact, it’s so big that people in the 19th century were able to sight it through telescopes.
2. Mars Has Summers and Winters Too
Mars is more similar to Earth than you might think. Just like our planet, its climate shifts through different seasons. You shouldn’t get your hopes up about booking a city break for a summer holiday on Mars just yet, though. Since its atmosphere’s about a hundred times thinner than Earth’s, thermal energy received from the sun isn’t retained, thus making the average temperature during the summer no more than -5 degrees Celsius. And if you think that’s bad, temperatures in winter time can drop even to -125 degrees Celsius. Turns out that, after all, Mars doesn’t make a good holiday destination.
3. There Are Pieces of Mars on Earth
Over 61,000 pieces of martian debris have been found on the surface of Earth. These pieces, referred to as “martian meteorites” and, technically, as SNC (based on geological composition), end up here as result of the impact between Mars and asteroids that crash into it. This kind of collision concludes with a lot of destruction and, although most of the aftermath debris falls back on Mars’ surface, some of it gets ejected into space and eventually ends up lost on terrestrial ground.
4. Mars Is Actually Rusty
We’ve all seen pictures of our solar system, and we’ve all undoubtedly took note of Mars’ distinguishing red hue. However, how many of us actually wondered where the Red Planet got its name from? One might say that it even looks somewhat “rusty.” Well, surprise, it actually is. Or, rather, its surface is cloaked in iron oxide. After being exposed to rain for long periods of time, iron reacts to with the oxygen and water in the air and, in time, begins to rust. This is also what happened to Mars, except on a much, much larger scale. How’s this for facts about Mars to impress your kids with?
5. Want To Grow Asparagus On Mars?
We never said we wouldn’t include some funny facts about Mars, too. Contrary to popular belief, scientists in charge of exploring the Red Planet don’t spend all of their time searching for sources of liquid water and signs of life. Upon sampling a piece of a soil, researchers have concluded that Mars would make an ideal environment for asparagus and turnip growing. I guess it’s good to know that, should we ever manage to colonize Mars, asparagus enthusiasts will have the grandest of times.
6. Also On Mars: The Largest Canyon
… in our solar system!
Mars seems to be on a roll as far as hosting gigantic, intergalactic landforms goes. If you ever decide to closely analyze a picture of Mars, you will be able to notice a giant gash. But don’t call it that: its name is Valles Marineris and it has feelings. Over 4,000 kilometers of canyon feelings stretched all over the planet’s surface, to be exact.
7. Mars Has The Largest Dust Storms
The Red Planet doesn’t always benefit from having the largest “something.” In this case, its dust storms of extreme proportions are often responsible for extreme climate changes in the martian environment. In one of three of cases, these dust storms take the form of a planet wide calamity.
8. Mars Might Have a Ring in the Future
Did you know that Mars has two moons? They are called Deimos and Phobos. Unfortunately, we might need to say goodbye to Phobos in the next 20-40 million years. Because of how slowly it completes an orbit around Mars, Phobos will likely be torn apart by gravitational forces and the first one to benefit from it will be Mars. Once the moon’s demise kicks in, scientists estimate that its outer layers will be launched towards the Red Planet and lead to the creation of a ring that can last up to 100 million years.
9. There Was and Still is Water on Mars
There was evidence for the existence of water on Mars long before NASA made the groundbreaking discovery that there is, in fact, liquid water on the Red Planet. Several spacecrafts observed channels grooved into the terrain that could have only been dug by a course of water. More than that, it’s been known for a long time that the “liquid of vitality” resides at Mars’ two poles, except it’s in solid, frozen form. The recent discovery only comes to solidify already existing theories, and I’m certain that people who believe in the dream of colonization are thrilled to hear it.
10. People Applied for a Trip to Mars
Since it’s fascinating facts about Mars we’re talking about here, we can’t end the article without the topic that’s been referenced a multitude of times throughout this article: colonization. It’s a real concept, and it’s happening really soon. NASA has initiated the Mars One project, which aims to take four people into outer space, land on Mars… and never come back. Over 100,000 people applied for perhaps their only chance to leave Earth for good, though only four of them will be fortunate enough to say that they were the first to colonize the Red Planet. The spacecraft is scheduled to leave in September 2022 and land in April 2023.
After reviewing all these cool facts about Mars, it’s possible to begin to see where all the fuss over it is coming from. It’s a planet of superlatives, which unfairly hosts the solar system’s greatest canyon and mountain. And as time goes by and technology advances are helping us explore more of what it has to offer, we begin to see that it has a lot more in common with Earth than we might have thought. Who knows? Maybe one day, Mars will be proven as able to sustain life and become our second home.