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The Red Planet
Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the diameter of Earth and has the same amount of dry land. Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons and weather, but its atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to exist for long on the surface. There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but evidence for water now exists mainly in icy soil and thin clouds.

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Slam Dunk
With gravity only one-third of Earth's, there's a good chance just about anyone could dunk a basketball in an NBA-regulation goal on Mars. Unfortunately, the required spacesuit might cut down on your edge.
Slam Dunk
The Real Grand Canyon
Mars' Valles Marineris is long enough to stretch from California to New York -- more than 4,800 km (3,000 miles). The Martian canyon is 7 km (4.3 miles) deep and 320 km (200 miles) wide. The Grand Canyon is only 446 km (277 miles) long, 30 km (18 miles) wide and its deepest point is 1,600 m (5,250 feet).
The Real Grand Canyon
Ring Around the Red Planet
Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons, is slowly sliding toward Mars. In about 50 million years it will either smash into the planet or break up -- creating a dusty ring around the Red Planet.
Ring Around the Red Planet
Into (Really) Thin Air
Towering above the planet at 27 thousand m (88 thousand feet), Olympus Mons is three times as tall as Mt. Everest, the highest point on Earth. The long dormant volcano is so enormous its base is about the size of the state of Arizona.
Into (Really) Thin Air
Are We There Yet?
If you could drive the minimum distance to Mars at an average highway speed -- say 100 kph (62 mph) -- it would still take more than 66 years to reach the Red Planet. A spacecraft takes about six months to get to Mars. It takes sunlight about four minutes longer to get to Mars than than it does to get to Earth.
Are We There Yet?
Speed Brakes
To survive a landing on Mars, a spacecraft must shave three zeroes off its speed in only six minutes -- from about 19 thousand kph (12 thousand mph) in space to less than 19 kph (12 mph) at the surface.
Speed Brakes
Swell Season
Imagine having to wait nearly two years for summer vacation. On Mars, a year takes about two Earth years and that means that Martian seasons last twice as long as they do here on Earth. Maybe that isn't that bad after all -- if the seasons are twice as long, then summer would last for six whole months.
Swell Season
Don't Judge a Planet By Its Color
Mars may look red, but looks can be deceptive. There are many colors that make up the Red Planet. At the surface we see various colors, such as brown, golden, tan, butterscotch, and green . The reason Mars looks so red is due to the oxidization -- or rusting -- of iron in the rocks, soil and dust of Mars. This dust gets kicked up into the atmosphere and from a distance makes the planet appear mostly red.
Don't Judge a Planet By Its Color
Vacation Destination?
When visiting Mars, don't forget to wear your swim trunks and scarf? Since Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than the Earth, heat from the sun easily escapes this planet. If a person stood on the surface of Mars (at the equator) at noon, it would feel like summer at their feet (75 degrees Fahrenheit, 24 degrees Celsius) and winter at their head (32 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius).
Vacation Destination?
And It Keeps Going and Going -- and Going
Since 2004, the Opportunity rover on Mars just keeps on going. Opportunity is the longest running rover -- ever -- in our solar system and has gone the farthest of any mission on Mars. You wouldn't know it now, but the Opportunity rover was originally planned to be a 92-day mission -- talk about going the extra mile.
And It Keeps Going and Going -- and Going
Slam Dunk
With gravity only one-third of Earth's, there's a good chance just about anyone could dunk a basketball in an NBA-regulation goal on Mars. Unfortunately, the required spacesuit might cut down on your edge.
Slam Dunk
The Real Grand Canyon
Mars' Valles Marineris is long enough to stretch from California to New York -- more than 4,800 km (3,000 miles). The Martian canyon is 7 km (4.3 miles) deep and 320 km (200 miles) wide. The Grand Canyon is only 446 km (277 miles) long, 30 km (18 miles) wide and its deepest point is 1,600 m (5,250 feet).
The Real Grand Canyon
Ring Around the Red Planet
Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons, is slowly sliding toward Mars. In about 50 million years it will either smash into the planet or break up -- creating a dusty ring around the Red Planet.
Ring Around the Red Planet
Into (Really) Thin Air
Towering above the planet at 27 thousand m (88 thousand feet), Olympus Mons is three times as tall as Mt. Everest, the highest point on Earth. The long dormant volcano is so enormous its base is about the size of the state of Arizona.
Into (Really) Thin Air
Are We There Yet?
If you could drive the minimum distance to Mars at an average highway speed -- say 100 kph (62 mph) -- it would still take more than 66 years to reach the Red Planet. A spacecraft takes about six months to get to Mars. It takes sunlight about four minutes longer to get to Mars than than it does to get to Earth.
Are We There Yet?
Speed Brakes
To survive a landing on Mars, a spacecraft must shave three zeroes off its speed in only six minutes -- from about 19 thousand kph (12 thousand mph) in space to less than 19 kph (12 mph) at the surface.
Speed Brakes
Swell Season
Imagine having to wait nearly two years for summer vacation. On Mars, a year takes about two Earth years and that means that Martian seasons last twice as long as they do here on Earth. Maybe that isn't that bad after all -- if the seasons are twice as long, then summer would last for six whole months.
Swell Season
Don't Judge a Planet By Its Color
Mars may look red, but looks can be deceptive. There are many colors that make up the Red Planet. At the surface we see various colors, such as brown, golden, tan, butterscotch, and green . The reason Mars looks so red is due to the oxidization -- or rusting -- of iron in the rocks, soil and dust of Mars. This dust gets kicked up into the atmosphere and from a distance makes the planet appear mostly red.
Don't Judge a Planet By Its Color
Vacation Destination?
When visiting Mars, don't forget to wear your swim trunks and scarf? Since Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than the Earth, heat from the sun easily escapes this planet. If a person stood on the surface of Mars (at the equator) at noon, it would feel like summer at their feet (75 degrees Fahrenheit, 24 degrees Celsius) and winter at their head (32 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius).
Vacation Destination?
And It Keeps Going and Going -- and Going
Since 2004, the Opportunity rover on Mars just keeps on going. Opportunity is the longest running rover -- ever -- in our solar system and has gone the farthest of any mission on Mars. You wouldn't know it now, but the Opportunity rover was originally planned to be a 92-day mission -- talk about going the extra mile.
And It Keeps Going and Going -- and Going