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universeDEFINITION

The fourth planet from the Sun, just past the Earth. Often called the ‘Red Planet’, due to its vivid colour.

REASONS TO VISIT

*                    See the longest ever canyon system, stretching over 5,000km (3,100 miles)

*                    Visit the Solar System’s largest volcano – over 50 times bigger than those on Earth

*                    Decide for yourself whether the Red Planet once contained life


NUMBER OF MOONS · 2

 

WHAT TO SEE

Mars has some of the most spectacular scenery in the Solar System.

Valles Marineres
A giant canyon system stretching over 5,000km (3,100 miles) along the equator with an average depth of 6km. See if you can spot the erosion channels that could reveal the planet’s watery past.

Olympus Mons
The largest volcano in the Solar System. Reaching 27km (17 miles) high and 700km (435 miles) across. But don’t be afraid – this monstrous volcano is now extinct, so your visit will be a safe one.

The face
In 1976, Viking Orbiter 1 sent pictures of a very unusual rock formation. When the Sun strikes Mars at a certain angle, the shadow looks like a human face.

Is this proof of alien intelligence at work? Or is it just chance that the rugged surface of Mars conjures up this image? Until there is more evidence, you will have to decide for yourself.

LOCAL HISTORY

It’s usually claimed that Mars was named after the Roman god of war because of its angry red colour. But early on in the Roman empire, Mars was worshipped as a god of growth and fertility.

SPOTTING MARS FROM THE EARTH

Mars’ red colour, though more pronounced when seen through a telescope, is still noticeable with the naked eye.

Mars can often be spotted from Earth. Usually it travels across the sky from east to west. However, for 70 days of its two year orbit, it reverses direction across the sky. This is the best times to observe Mars, because it’s at the closest point to Earth.




TRAVEL INFORMATION

Journey time · 5.25 Earth months
1 Martian year · 2.11 Earth years
Contacting home · Time lag = 25.4 minutes

Before you leave
Mars is closer in temperature to Earth than any of the other planet in the Solar System. But don’t let this catch you off your guard. Mars’ weather is even more unpredictable than our own.

We recommend a summer visit, when the temperature can reach a pleasant 20ºC. But keep an eye on the weather forecast! Storms can sweep across the whole planet. Within days, the temperature can plummet by 20 degrees.

Travelers’ in the winter months should note that Mars can reach a bitter -140ºC.

One final word of warning – make sure you are prepared for dust storms. Tornadoes as large as eight kilometers high have been seen causing havoc across the Martian landscape.

When you arrive
Your first decision when you arrive will be which hemisphere to head for. The southern hemisphere is higher, and has a more rugged landscape.

The northern hemisphere lies an average of five kilometres lower. We know that the surface there is younger as there are fewer impact craters.

There is no evidence of plate tectonics on Mars. This means that growing volcanoes aren’t disrupted by surface movements. So they can grow 100 times larger than on Earth, like Olympus Mons. But don’t worry; the volcanoes on Mars aren’t active.


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