Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system. It is also referred as the ‘Red Planet’ because of its reddish appearance. The reason for this appearance is the presence of iron oxide in the soil. It is also one of the four terrestrial planets. Mars is named after the Roman god of War. It is the only other planet besides Earth to have polar ice caps. The planet has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. The distance between Mars and Sun is approximately 227,940,000 km. A day on Mars lasts about 24 hours 37 minutes and one year lasts about 687 Earth days.
Major missions to Mars: –
There have been total more than 40 missions have launched to Mars to understand this planet better. Almost half of them were not successful. Some of them were flybys and provided only limited information. A few were long-standing orbiters and lasted there for years.
- Mariner 4: – This US spacecraft was launched on November 28, 1953. It was the first successful mission. It was the first spacecraft to fly by Mars on July 14, 1965. It sent 21 photos back to us.
- Mariner 6 and Mariner 7: – They were launched in 1969. They reached Mars and send back some more photos that helped with further research.
- Mars 3: – This spacecraft was launched in 1971.
- Mariner 9: – This spacecraft was launched in 1971. It returned 7,329 images.
- Mars 5: – Mars 5 was launched in 1973. It lasted only 9 days and returned 60 images.
- Viking 1: – It was launched in 1975. It was the first successful landing on Mars.
- Viking 2: – It was also launched in 1975. This spacecraft returned 16,000 images.
- Mars Global Surveyor: – Mars Global Surveyor was launched in 1996. It sent back many images.
- Mars Pathfinder: – This spacecraft was launched in 1996. It lasted five times longer than the warranty.
- Mars Odyssey: – Mars Odyssey was launched in 2001. This spacecraft sent some high-resolution images of Mars.
- Spirit Rover: – Mars Exploration Rover – Spirit was launched in 2003.
- Opportunity Rover: – Another Mars exploration rover – Opportunity was also launched in the same year.
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: – This spacecraft was launched in 2005.
- Phoenix Mars Lander: – This spacecraft was launched in 2007. It returned more than 25 gigabits of data.
- Mars Science Laboratory: – Mars Science Laboratory was launched in 2011. This spacecraft explored Mars’ habitability.
- Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution: – This spacecraft was launched in 2013. It studied the Martian atmosphere.
- Mars Orbiter Mission: – Mars Orbiter Mission was launched in 2013.