Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance.
The most amazing recent news is that liquid water has been found to exist on Mars which have only until now appeared as dark streaks.
Mars is home to the tallest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons, a shield volcano, which is 21km high and 600km in diameter.
A day on Mars is roughly equivalent to an Earth day. A Martian year takes over 680 days, compared with Earth’s 365 day orbit of the Sun.
Mars has two known moons, Phobos and Deimos.
Mars has a very thin atmosphere, which contains about 95.3% carbon dioxide (CO2) and 2.7% nitrogen, and a mixture of other gases. The temperature is very cold, and there is believed to be frozen water at the poles in the form of permafrost.
The most recent missions to Mars include the Curiosity rover which has been roving the planet since Aug. 5, 2012 and sending back images, the MAVEN mission, which arrived on September 22, 2014 to study the martian atmosphere, and the Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter, which arrived on September 24, 2014.
Explorations have revealed water in the soil and possibly flowing water in the warmest months on Mars.
The next missions to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, comprising an orbiter, lander, and a rover, followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, to be launched in March 2016 with a planned arrival in September, 2016.