Mars Facts for Kids

In our solar system, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and scientists are always trying to learn more about this world. The color of Mars is reddish-brown because the ground is filled with iron-oxide, otherwise known as rust. It would take more than two years for a human in a spacecraft to travel to Mars. This planet shares a few similarities with Earth, but there are also many differences.

On Mars, the length of one day is slightly longer than on Earth. For humans, one year is equal to 365 days. It takes more than 680 days for Mars to go around the Sun. Scientists know that the axial tilt of Mars, or its angle, is almost the same as Earth so both planets experience similar seasons. Mars’ orbit takes it closer to the Sun so the summer can get much hotter.

The Martian surface has polar ice caps, volcanoes, mountains, and canyons just like Earth. However, the differences between our planet and Mars couldn’t be clearer. On Earth, the highest volcano is Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Starting from sea level, it’s almost 14,000 feet. On Mars, the summit of Olympus Mons is twice as high and the diameter of this huge volcano is more than five-hundred kilometers. Scientists believe this volcano is so big because the tectonic plates, which are made of rock and located deep below the ground, don’t move as much like they do on Earth.

Valles Marineris is a canyon simliar to the Grand Canyon in the United States, and it’s visible from space. The difference, however, is the size. Valles Marineris is unbelievably big. It’s almost 4,000 kilometers long and ten kilometers deep in some places. This is located just below the Martian equator. Mars is smaller than Earth but the geography is amazing!

Can humans ever live on Mars? Right now this isn’t possible, and there are several reasons. The conditions on Mars aren’t the same as Earth. Humans need oxygen to survive but on Mars the air is mostly carbon dioxide. If a person wanted to walk on the surface, he or she would need a special suit in order to breathe. The weather on Mars isn’t that great because it’s not as close to the Sun, so the temperatures are freezing. Also, there are terrible storms blowing dust all over the planet.

There is another problem. The ozone layer high above the surface of the Earth absorbs harmful rays from the Sun. Mars lacks an ozone layer, and its surface is constantly bathed with radiation that would make life difficult for humans. If people want to live on Mars in the future, they would need to make enclosed shelters. Finding sources of food and water would also be necessary before living on Mars becomes a reality.