When was Mars declared a planet?

Mars

This is what it would look like if Mars were right next to Earth. Its diameter is only about half the size of our planet.

Mars is a planet in our solar system. When viewed from the sun, its orbit is behind the earth. It takes 687 days to orbit the sun, whereas the earth needs 365 days. Of course, this refers to our “Earth Days”. A day on Mars lasts about as long as it is on Earth. It is completely different with the other planets. Mars is only half the size of Earth in diameter. It has two small moons called Phobos and Deimos.

So that you can get an idea of ​​the sizes in the solar system: If the sun were a large exercise ball, Mars would only be a large pea, the earth a cherry. The “Mars pea” would orbit the “exercise ball sun” at a distance of about 200 meters, and the earth about two thirds of this distance.

Mars was already known in ancient times. Its name comes from the Roman god for war. For a long time it was believed that there could be extraterrestrial life there, maybe even beings that look like us humans.

In 1877 an astronomer thought he could see grooves on Mars with his telescope. Someone later even claimed that the grooves were channels. The inhabitants of Mars would have built the canals to bring water from the poles to the equator. Eventually it was realized that the astronomers were mistaken about the grooves: they don't even exist.

In the 20th century, the United States and the Soviet Union sent several space probes to Mars. It was believed that they would at least find plants or bacteria. It has been known since 1976 that there are not even such simple creatures on Mars.

How does it look on Mars?

Some kind of car on Mars? This vehicle from the USA is known as the Curiosity. This is English for “curiosity”. It has been traveling around Mars since 2012 and broadcasting its knowledge to Earth - just like this photo of itself.

Mars is significantly further from the sun than the earth. That's why it's colder there, on average as cold as on Earth at the North Pole in winter. It gets warmest of the day at the equator: around 20 degrees Celsius.

Like Earth, Mars also has an atmosphere. But it is dusty and very thin. There is hardly any oxygen in the Martian air. So humans and animals could not breathe there.

The bottom of Mars is red. It comes from the dust. Just like rust, it is made up of a chemical combination of iron and oxygen. Many meteorites from space hit Mars. That is why you can see many impact craters, large areas with a round edge made of debris. It's similar to the Earth's moon.

Why hasn't anyone flown to Mars yet?

With this picture, a draftsman from NASA shows how one would probably live on Mars: under the ground. There you would be protected from the rays of the sun.

Space travel is very expensive, especially when people need to be taken somewhere. People need air to breathe, they have to eat and drink, and it should never be too cold or too warm for them. Also, people can get sick - that's a huge problem when there is no hospital around.

American astronauts were on the moon around 1970. Even back then, people complained that it was way too expensive and that it didn't bring that much benefit. Instead, machines could be sent into space much better.

It only took a three-day flight to the moon. But a trip to Mars and back would take over two years. The journey and life on Mars would be very dangerous: The sun emits tiny particles. If they meet a person, the person will soon get sick. We are protected from this on earth. We do not yet know how to protect people who have lived long outside the earth.