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Magnificent Mars
Magnificent Mars

A Traveler's Guide to Mars
A Traveler's Guide
to Mars

Sojourner: An Insider's View of
the Mars Pathfinder Mission

Praise to the Moon
The BackYard Astronomer's Guide

Mars, The Red Planet
Mars- The Red Planet

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Planet Mars Educational Astronomy Posters
for the social studies and science classrooms and home schoolers.

science > astronomy > planets > MARS < social studies

National Geographic Mars Poster
National Geographic
Mars, The Red Planet Poster

Planet Mars, from "De Sphaera”, 1470, Giclee Print
Planet Mars,
“De Sphaera”, 1470,
Giclee Print

Mars, [] the fourth planet from the Sun, is named after the Roman god of war (the month of March is also named for Mars).

Author H. G. Wells wrote “War of the Worlds” in 1898 which Mercury Theater on the Air radio producer Orson Welles adapted into the ultimate Halloween horror story in 1938.

1926 Amazing Stories Cover, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Giclee Print
1926 Amazing Stories Cover, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Giclee Print

National Geographic Mars Poster
National Geographic
Mars, 1973 Poster

Surface Color - Most scientists believe hydrated iron oxide is responsible for the pinkish-ocher color in the bright portions of Mars. These areas cover about three-quarters of the planet, mostly in the northern hemispere; dark areas, largely in the southern hemisphere, make up the balance. Light and dark regions appear unrelated to altitude. A white cap of frost covers each polar region in winter.

Polar Caps - Each winter frozen carobn dioxide and small amounts of frozen water cover the ground from the pole to about 45º latitude. While one polar cap grows larger, the opposite one recedes. Because Mars is closer to the Sun during the southern hemisphere summer, the south polar cap shrinks to a smaller size – 190 by 250 miles – compared to the north polar cap – 550 miles in diameter. These permanent caps are much thicker than the extended winter caps.

Atmosphere - At Martian “sea level” the atmosphere is about one percent as dense as Earth's – or about the same as our atmosphere 20 miles up. consisting mostly of carbon dioxide, it also contains very small amounts of water vapor and carbon comoxide, and traces of oxygen and ozone. If all the water vapor were condensed, it would cover Mars with a film about a thousandth of an inch deep.

Clouds - Thin whitish clouds, similar in appearance to the cirrus clouds in the Earth's atmosphere, from as high as 20 miles abouve the Martian surface. Some clouds recur over the same region each afternoon for extended periods. At latitudes as high as 40º, a low-lying haze forms at night and lingers for a few hours after sunrise. A veil of haze called a hood also shrouds each polar region during the winter seasons.

Winds - Fierce Martian winds often stir up dust storms. The largest occur when Mars comes closest to the Sun and the planet's surface attains its maximum temperature. Such storms may rage for months, extending over the entire planet with winds that sometimes exceed 120 miles an hour. These winds pick up dust from the surface and sweep it inot vast yellowish clouds.

Temperature - At the equator the average surface temperature ranges from near 32ºF. in the early afternoon to 135º below zero just before sunrise. In the daytime, surfaces of dark areas are sometimes as much as 40º warmer than adjacent bright areas. Because of the thin atmosphere, a point a foot or two above the surface many be 80º cooler than the ground during the day. Temperatures at the poles hover around 190º F. below zero.

Weight - Gravity on the surface of Mars pulls with .38 the force of that on Earth. This means that people weighing 150 pounds on Earth would weigh 57 bounds on Mars. They would be able to lift 2.5 times the weight they could lift on Earth.

Magnetic Field - The fact that the magnetic field of Mars is less than one percent the strength on Earth's means it probably has a very small iron core, or none at all. The weak magnetism also accounts for the absence of a radiation belt around Mars.

Dusty Face of Mars, 1973, Art Print
Dusty Face of Mars, 1973,
Art Print

NOW THAT MAN has brought the moon within his grasp ....

The glowing orb of Mars has awed mankind at least since the beginning of recorded history. The Babylonians personified the planet as Nergal, god of the underworld; the Greeks as Ares, god of war, The Romans called him Mars. In their mythology Mars was an overpowering figure, armed with the ancient implements of combat – a spear and shield. These became stylized into the astronomical symbol for Mars ...

Man has often fancied the red planet as capable of supporting life. Tales of manlike Martian invaders have found easy credence even in our own times. So did the announcment in 1877 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli of long, straight lines on the planet's surface that he called canali – channels or canals. The photographs taken by NASA's Mariner 9, transmitted over 235,000,000 miles of space, leave no doubt as to the illusory nature of these canals.

But if there were no canals, was there free-flowing water? Mysterious meandering “riverbeds” revealed by the Mariner spacecraft indicate there may have been at one time. And if there was liquid water, might Mars harbor some form of life? ...


The two small moons of Mars were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall of the U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C. From Homer's Iliad he named them from Mars' attendants, Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror). Either captured asteroids or remnants of material from the time of Mars' formation, they orbit in the same direction in which Mars rotates, in planes that are within 3º of the planet's equatorial plane. Their synchronous rotations keep the same side always facing Mars, just as our moon does with the Earth. Impacts from very small meteorites create craters, which are much denser than those on Mars because there is viturally no erosion to erase them. Among the darkest objects in the solar system, the irregularly shaped satellites reflect only about 5 percent of the sunlight received.

PHOBOS follows a nearly circular orbit, with a radius of 5,829 miles from Mars' center. One complete orbit with relation to the stars – called a sidereal revolution – takes 7 hours, 39 minutes. Its period with relation to an observer on Mars – a synodic revolution – is 11 hours, 6 minutes. Along the north-south spin axis, Phobos measures 12 miles; equatorially, 17 miles. Extremely low gravity would allow the average person to pitch a baseball into orbit around the satellite.

Artist's Concept Comparing the Size of Mars with That of the Earth, Poster
Artist's Concept Comparing
the Size of Mars
with that of the Earth

Mars, known as the “Red Planet,” is the fourth planet from the Sun.

Facts About Mars
• Distance from the sun: 141.6 million miles
• Diameter: 6726 km (4180 +/- mi)
• Length of year: 687 Earth days
• Rotation period/lenth of “day”: 24 hours and 37 minutes
• Temperature: Minus 150º to minus 20º Fahrenheit
• Atmosphere: Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, and small amounts of other gases
• Number of moons: 2


Mars, named after the Roman god of war, is also referred to as the “Red Planet” because of its reddish appearance as seen from Earth. Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli mistook what appeared as straight lines to be canals.

Mars, Poster
Planet Mars Art Print
Planet Mars
Art Print

Mars Exploration Chart Poster
Mars Exploration
Chart Poster
Surface of Mars Poster
Surface of Mars

Mars Rover, Poster
Mars Rover
Art Print
Spirit & Opportunity on Mars Art Print
Spirit & Opportunity
on Mars
Art Print

“I Have Learned to Use the Word Impossible with the Greatest of Caution.” ~ Werner Von Braun

Olympus Mons Volcano, Mars, Photographic Print
Olympus Mons Volcano, Mars, Photographic Print

(coordinates on Mars
18º24'0"N 226º0'0"E)

The Martian Olympus Mons volcano is the largest volcano in the Solar System and three times higher than Earth's Mount Everest and wider than the entire Hawaiian volcano chain (342 miles in width with a caldera complex 53 miles long, 37 miles wide, and up to 1.8 miles deep with six overlapping pit craters).

Olympus Mons is a shield volcano with shallow-sloping sides resembling a warrior's shield.

Victoria Crater, an Impact Crater at Meridiani Planum, Near the Equator of Mars, Photographic Print
Victoria Crater
Meridiani Planum, Near Martian Equator
Photographic Print

Meridiani Planium (plain) is the site of the impact crater Victoria Crater and in 2004 it was the landing site for the second of NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers, named Opportunity.

Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars, Photographic Print
Valles Marineris,
the Grand Canyon of Mars,
Photographic Print

Valles Marineris (Mariner Valley) is the largest canyon system in the Solar System

The Supposed Canals Observed and Drawn by the Italian Astronomer Schiaparelli, Giclee Print
The Supposed Canals Observed
and Drawn by Schiaparelli,
Giclee Print

Martian Canals -

Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed Mars and believed he saw “seas” and “continents”; he named the long straight formations canali in Italian. Years later the “canals” were shown to be an optical illusion.

Hubble Space Telescope View of Mars, Photographic Print
Hubble Space Telescope
View of Mars,
Photographic Print
Hubble Space Telescope View of Mars, Photographic Print
Hubble Space Telescope
View of Mars,
Photographic Print

The Hubble Space Telescope obtained these images in the spring of 1999, when Mars was only 87 million km (54 million mi) from Earth. The white, circular region at the top of the image is the north polar cap.

NASA Solar System, Planets, Montage Poster
NASA Solar System, Planets
Montage Poster

Montage of planetary images taken by spacecraft managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. From top to bottom - Mercury, Venus, Earth (and Moon), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The image of Mercury was taken by Mariner 10, Venus was taken by Magellan, Earth and Moon were taken by Galileo, Mars was taken by Mars Global Surveyor, Jupiter was taken by Cassini, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were taken by Voyager. Inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth with Moon, and Mars) are roughly to scale to each other; the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are roughly to scale to each other. Image courtesy of Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

• more planets posters
• more Solar System posters

Journey to Mars Poster
Journey to Mars
Mission to Mars Movie Poster
Mission to Mars
Movie Poster

“The timid are frightful of a shot weighing 20,000 pounds launched into space; what cannon could ever transimit a sufficient veolcity ot such a mighty mass.” ~ Jules Verne

Copper Plate Etching Showing Roman God Mars, God of War and Father of Romulus and Remus, Photographic Print
Mars, Roman God
of War,
Photographic Print

The Romans gave the red planet the name of their god of war, Mars.

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