Mars is one of the planets in our proximity that has continued to fascinate humankind from the early days. Bearing the name of various gods of war – from Har Decker and Nergal to Ares and Mars – the Red Planet is the host of the most violent dust storms, the tallest volcano and the largest canyon in the solar system. Still, these are not the only mysteries this huge cold desert holds as you are about to find out.
1. There is water on Mars!
The main reason why space exploration is such an exciting topic resides in the fact that humankind actually hopes to find proof of extraterrestrial life. In order to validate this theory, missions on Mars have struggled to find one of the basic elements that are responsible for life as we know it: water. So far, only Martian mission Phoenix has confirmed that the existence of water in the North Pole of Mars, although it is not in the liquid form we’re accustomed to.
On a side note, Curiosity also brought solid evidence that rivers and oceans once existed on Mars. NASA had a press release in January this year where they announced the rover found several traces in the minerals that, according to our current knowledge, could not have developed without the presence of water.
2. The planet’s atmospheric pressure will make your blood bubble
The atmospheric pressure on Mars is 100 times less than the one on Earth and one of the main consequences of this fact is that all liquid substances will start to bubble almost instantly. Therefore, considering that the adult human body is on average 57% – 60% water, stepping on Mars without wearing appropriate protection equipment means your blood will start bubbling and you will die instantly.
3. The Red Planet “hosts” the largest dust storms in the entire solar system
In all fairness, even the deadliest storms in history like the Bhola Cyclone (1970), Typhoon Nina (1975) or Hurricane Kenna (2002) are no match for the Martian dust storms. As a matter of fact, a single dust storm on Mars has the tremendous power to cover the entire planet for months!
4. Valles Marineris is the largest canyon in the solar system
If you think that the Grand Canyon is an impressive sight, just wait until you hear about the largest canyon in the solar system. Valles Marineris measures over 4,000 kilometers long, meaning that it is practically ten times longer than the Grand Canyon. In addition, the Martian canyon is approximately 7.2 kilometers deep, four times deeper than our own.
5. Mount Olympus is the biggest volcano of the solar system
Majestically standing 25 kilometers high above the plains of Mars, Mount Olympus is known as the tallest volcano in the entire solar system. In addition to its impressive height, the volcano also has a fairly large base, enough to cover the entire state of Arizona. While you could say this is ironic given the fact that Mars is actually half the size of Earth, there is an explanation to the phenomenon. To put it simply, unlike Earth the hot spots on Martian soil are stationary, whereas the tectonic plates tend to move above the crust.