Five cool facts about Mars


An iron-rich dust gives the Mars landscape a rusty-red color. (NASA/The Associated Press)
August 11, 2012

Mars is in the news a lot these days, with last week’s successful landing of the robot rover Curiosity on the surface of the Red Planet.

People have long been fascinated by Mars, and the idea of sending people to the planet has been a source of science fiction and science exploration for decades. Part of the interest is because scientists believe that 3.5 billion years ago, the climate of Mars may have been warm and wet, and might have supported life.

Here are five other fascinating facts about Mars.

1. Color: It’s called the Red Planet because its iron-rich dust gives it landscape a rusty-red color.

2. Diet planet: Mars’s gravity is 38 percent of Earth’s. So if you weigh 60 pounds here, you’d weigh about 23 pounds there.

3. Climate change: At the equator, Mars is a comfortable 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but the temperature at its poles can get down to 199 degrees below zero.

4. In the air: Mars’s atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide with traces of nitrogen and argon. Earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and other gases.

5. Longer days: A Martian day is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth.

Coming Tuesday: Building a menu for a mission to Mars.

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