Astronomy on Mars

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Astronomy on Mars

Mars in a Minute: How Do You Get to Mars?

Astronomy:What do you need to know about Mars in order to land a rover there?

GRAVITY AND ATMOSPHERE- The surface gravity of Mars is 3.71 m/s². A person who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would weigh 38 pounds on Mars.- Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide (CO₂), nitrogen (N₂), and argon (Ar).

OTHER FACTS- A full Mars year is 687 Earth days.- Mars is the fourth planet (about 228 million km) from the sun.- There are polar ice caps, volcanoes, and canyons, as well as seasons and weather on Mars.- Mars is a rocky planet, also called a terrestrial planet. - The largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, is located on Mars. The planet is also home to a spectacular equatorial canyon system, Valles Marineris.- Mars has a surface area of 144,371,391 km², about 0.283 times the size of earth's surface area.

Video 1. The Different Proponents of Landing a Rover on Mars (link)Figure 1. The Thin Atmosphere of MarsFigure 2. 'Point Lake' Outcrop in Gale Crater

MOONS- Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, that are named after the sons of the god of war Ares (Greek counterpart of the Roman god, Mars). - Mars' moons are among the smallest in the solar system. - Phobos is a bit larger than Deimos, and orbits just 6000 km above the Martian surface. Phobos is known to be the moon orbiting closest to its planet. - Phobos orbits Mars so fast that it travels around the planet three times a day, while the more distant Deimos takes 30 hours for each orbit.

DISTANCES- The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 54.6 million km, but that doesn't happen very often because of the planets' elliptical and slightly tilted orbits/paths.- The Perihelion (closest distance between the Sun and a planet) of Mars is 206,655,215 km (1.381 AU), which is 1.405 times that of Earth.- The Aphelion (farthest distance between the Sun and a planet) of Mars is 249,232,432 km (1.666 AU), which is 1.639 times that of Earth.- The average distance from Earth to Mars is about 78,858,000 km.

CLIMATE- Mars has seasons similar to the Earth's due to the tilt of its axis. Because its orbit around the Sun is elliptical, the distance from the Sun varies by about 20% depending on where it is in its annual orbit. The seasons in the Southern hemisphere are more extreme while in the Northern hemisphere the seasons are less extreme.- The temperature on Mars may reach a high of about 20 degrees Celsius (at noon, at the equator in the summer) or a low of about -153 degrees Celsius at the poles. In the mid-latitudes, the average temperature would be about -50 degrees Celsius with a nighttime minimum of -60 degrees Celsius and a summer midday maximum of about 0 degrees Celsius.

Figure 3. Geographical Conditions on the Surface of the Red Planet


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