Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Why is Mars red? The planet Mars looks red because of the large quantity of iron oxide, or rust, on the orb's surface.
Mars and Earth are the third and fourth planets in distance from the Sun. Their days are pretty equal in length (Mars has a solar day of 24 hours and 39 minutes), but because Mars is so much farther from the Sun, a Mars year is almost twice as long as an Earth year (687 days).
Mars has two moons, which are named Phobos and Deimos for the Greek mythology characters who were battle companions to their father, Ares (known to the Romans as Mars).
Dozens of spacecraft have been sent to Mars for research purposes. One of the most successful of these missions was the Viking Program. The Viking 1 landed on this date in 1976, taking the first color pictures of the red planet.
Quote: "The thing that sets Mars apart is that it is the one planet that is enough like Earth that you can imagine life possibly once having taken hold there." — Steven Squyres