Why is Planet Mars Red?
Mars may appear to be red but in truth it isn’t really a completely red planet. The best information scientists have today indicates that the red-colored layer is very thin in most places and only extends to about two meters in depth at the deepest locations. Scientists believe that the majority of Mars’ mass is not made up of red material.
That said, the reason the planet appears to be red is that the surface contains a lot of oxides of iron, in particles so small that it is mostly dust. There are traces of other elements as well. Studies lead us to believe that the iron that makes Mars appear red came from volcanoes. The concentration of iron on Mars is much higher than that on Earth. That’s why our home planet doesn’t appear to be red.
Mars, with its “red” reputation, is the fourth planet from the sun in what we call our Solar System. The planet gets its name from the Roman god of war. In addition to its red appearance Mars has surface features that are similar to those found on Earth and on Earth’s moon. Observation by astronomers indicates that Mars has valleys and volcanoes and even has ice caps similar to the polar regions of Earth.
Because Mars is next in distance from the Sun its rotation and seasons are similar to those we experience on Earth. Astronomers believe that the mountains and canyons on Mars are the highest and deepest, respectively, in the entire solar system. Scientific study shows that the planet is not as active internally as Earth.
Though much of the discussion about Mars focuses on its apparent red color there is much more to the surface features of this planet. Scientists continue to speculate about the possibility that there is water, in liquid form, on Mars. Photos and data sent back by various explorations show lighter spots and darker spots that astronomers think might be similar to oceans and land masses that we have on Earth. Samples of ice formed from water were acquired by a 2008 landing, according to information from science sources.
Mars has two small moons that orbit the planet. Astronomers believe that the gravitational pull of the planet may have captured two asteroids at some time in the past and made them planetary moons. At various times Mars can be seen from Earth without the aid of a telescope. It is very bright in the night sky with only a handful of other objects giving off a greater amount of visible light.