Mars is fourth in the order of the planets from the sun; it comes after Mercury, Venus and Earth. For years, scientists and experts have been interested about the physical characteristics, structure and composition of its neighboring planet. They have conducted numerous explorations in the past, but there are still many other important questions at the back of their minds. As part of the solar system, it is quite interesting to find out why Mars is called the red planet.
The Reason Behind the Red Appearance of Mars
Why is Mars called the red planet? Due to its red appearance, many people have referred to Mars as the ‘Red Planet.’ The primary reason behind this is the prevalence of iron oxide, which is commonly referred to as rust. It produces a red-orange appearance right at the planet’s surface. Because of its bright color, it is very much visible from the Earth. Only the sun, moon and Venus are brighter than this planet, which has a 2.9 magnitude.
In terms of physical characteristics, Mars only measures around half of the Earth’s radius. Its density is lower as well compared to that of the Earth. Even Mercury, which is considerably smaller than the red planet, is denser. Aside from iron oxide, its soil also has other elements and nutrients such as chloride, potassium and magnesium. Furthermore, it also has sodium among other important elements, which are needed by living organisms in order to grow.
Other Important and Interesting Facts about Mars
Because of the low atmospheric pressure in the planet, the possibility of having liquid water on it is not possible. Meanwhile, there is much supply of water ice on its surface. The estimated time when the planet lost its magnetosphere is around four billion years ago. The major components of the atmosphere in Mars include 1.6 percent argon, 3 percent nitrogen and 95 percent carbon dioxide. There are also little traces of water and oxygen on the planet.
Methane is also present in the atmosphere of Mars. Scientists associate the presence of this element to numerous factors including the impact of comets as well as volcanic activity. There is also such a thing as serpentinization in the planet, which is a non-biological process. It involves key elements such as mineral olivine, carbon dioxide and water. The distance between this planet and the sun is estimated to be somewhere around 230 million kilometers. Another interesting thing about this planet is the orbital period, which is set at 687 days. Just like the Earth, Mars also has changing seasons, namely aphelion and perihelion.