Thursday, August 9, 2012

Little known facts about Mars

The world's attention has been focused back on Mars with the recent Curiosity landing.   NASA's  new robotic rover is beaming back pictures from the planet now that it has landed at the base of Mount Sharp.   

During its two-year mission, the roaming laboratory will analyze rocks and soil in search of the chemical building blocks of life, and determine whether there were habitable conditions where microbes could thrive.  Mars has been a prime target for space exploration for decades, in part because its climate 3.5 billion years ago is believed to have been warm and wet, like early Earth. 

Here are five little known Mars facts:
— Why is Mars red? It is called the red planet because the landscape is stained rusty-red by the iron-rich dust.
—Quick weight loss: Its gravity is only 38% that of Earth. So if you weigh 200 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 76 pounds on Mars.
—Temperatures: Mars' temperatures can range from 80 degrees at its equator to -199 degrees at its poles.
—Atmosphere: Mars' atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide with traces of nitrogen and argon. Earth's atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and other gases.
— Day length:  A day on Mars lasts 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth.