Mars Fact File


Planetary Fact Files
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This is the fourth planet from the Sun.

It is known as the red planet due to it's dusty desert appearance. Although it looks desert-like the surface temperature varies between 20 ℃ on the equator and -153 ℃ at the poles

The atmosphere of Mars is very thin and made up of mostly carbon dioxide.

Water exists at the polar regions - mostly in the form of ice.

Mars is a terrestrial planet (made up of mostly rocks and/or metals). It has two moons which are the smallest in the solar system.

A day on Mars is similar in length to that on Earth at 24 hours and 37 minutes. However, a year on Mars (time it takes to orbit the sun) is much longer at 687 Earth Days.

This planet is about half the size of Earth with approximately just 38% of the gravity.

Light takes 13 minutes to reach Mars from the Sun.

Mars from the NASA photo library


Mars is the only planet humans have sent rovers to for surface exploration. It is also the second most visited planet by our spacecraft

The first successful mission to Mars was a fly-by in 1965. five years later the first spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the planet.

There have been 57 missions to Mars (at the time of writing) from various space agencies. Only 28 were successful!

At this moment in time Mars has 6 orbiting spacecraft, a lander unit and a rover operational (still on mission).

In the next four years, agencies are hoping to launch 4 more orbiters (satellites), 3 lander units, 3 rovers and a helicopter drone.

One of the upcoming missions to Mars is called the EXOMars. This is a joint effort from the ESA (European Space Agency) and ROSCOSMOS (Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities). Researchers at Aberystwyth University have been assisting with the manufacture of some hardware elements and camera calibration technologies. To see more about our role in this mission please visit the EXOMars at Aberystwyth University webpage


Use the information above to answer these questions:

  1. Why is Mars one of the most visited planets by Earth spacecraft?
  2. How many Earth years are in ten Mars years?
  3. Why are the moons of Mars the smallest in the solar system?
  4. Why are researchers hopeful of finding some form of life (past or present) on Mars? Life isn't just referring to us, but to any and all living things - including bacteria and viruses.


To check your answers please see the answer sheet. This should only be used after attempting all questions.

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