Mars Painting by Adolf Schaller, OmniCosm Studios (

The World Next Door

Mars has places that look like Earth, yet it is very different from our world. The surface of this dry and dusty desert planet freezes beneath a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Distance From Sun 145.22 million mi (1.5x Earth’s distance from Sun)
Structure iron core, crust and mantle rock
Temperature (Planetary Extremes) Day 68°F (20°C); Night -220°F (-140°C)
Mass 9 Marses = 1 Earth
Volume 7 Marses could fit inside Earth
Day 24 hours, 37 minutes
Year 1 year, 11 months
Axial Tilt 25.2°

Exploring the Red Planet

Present-day Mars is deserted and quiet. Its canyons, volcanoes, craters, and floodplains indicate an active past.

Forces of Change on Mars

Forces similar to those on Earth shaped the surface of Mars. Volcanic eruptions once spread lava across the Red Planet. Tectonic forces split its rocky crust to form jagged canyons and cliffs. Meteorites created impact craters. The most active process on Mars today is wind erosion, although liquids once flowed across its arid plains.

Carving a Canyon

Valles Marineris is a canyon system on Mars. It began as a series of ground faults. Tectonic activity and erosion shaped the canyons into the massive rift we see today. The system is four times deeper than the Grand Canyon and wider than North America.

Exploring the Solar System

Our exploration of the planets began with robotic orbiters and landers. People will take the next steps, to Mars and beyond, to live and work on other worlds.