Meet Mars, the Red Planet

 By: Dennis Moore Hopkins
On some nights, you may see a bright light in the sky, one that looks like a star with a reddish gleam. For a matter of fact, that is the red planet, one named after the Roman god of war - Mars. This planet would be the fourth from the sun, at about 228 million kilometers away.

If you were to see an image of the planet, you would think that parts of it looked like the moon. Unlike the quiet moon, the atmosphere of what is Mars made of are several gases, which are mainly carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon, appearing like thin blue and white clouds moving across its sky. With fierce windstorms, the sand whirls up from the plains, filling the air with dust. This orange-colored dust that fills its skies is what you see from afar.

The size of Mars is only about half the size of Earth. As this is so, one year on Mars is almost half the year on Earth, although the day is almost the same as ours. The tilt of the planet's axis is similar to our planet, which makes the seasons there similar to ours. Yet, due to its size, the seasons last almost twice as long. There are also great fluctuations in temperature between the day and night.

Volcanoes are also common on Mars, but as compared to the ones on Earth, these volcanoes are much higher and they stretch much wider than Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth. The size difference occurs because on Mars, there is a lack in tectonic plates. This allows the volcano activity to persist longer on the same spot, allowing the volcano more time to grow. Also, the surface gravity on the planet is only one third of Earth's, so the growth is not pulled down to the center of gravity just as much. The atmosphere there is also not as erosive, so the surface of the volcanoes is not damaged as much.

There are also canyons on the planet. A single canyon from this planet is as wide as the whole continent of North America. It is believed to be caused by catastrophic outbursts of water, ice, and debris from underground. There are also long, winding marks that look like dry river valleys, believed to be caused by rainfall long ago when the temperature was warm enough for water to exist.

There have been speculations by scientists, claiming the possibilities of Earthlings living on Mars. Would you want to live there, having known what is Mars made of?
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