How far is Mars from Earth

How Far Is Mars from Earth? Facts About Mars

In this article we are going to answer the question, how far is Mars from Earth? When Earth and Mars are at their closest, they are 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) apart and when they are at their farthest, they are 249 million miles (401 million kilometers) apart. On average, the distance between Earth and Mars is 139 million miles (225 million kilometers).

The distance between the two planets varies as they orbit around the sun. It is unlike the distance between the earth and the moon that is somewhat constant because the moon is circling the Earth. The closest distance would only materialize if the earth were at its farthest from the sun (aphelion) while Mars was at its closest to the sun (perihelion). This event has never been witnessed in recorded history. In fact, the closest distance on record is 34 million miles (56 million kilometers).

How far is Mars from the Sun?

Mars is 142 million miles (228 million kilometers) from the sun and has an eccentric orbit. When it is at its farthest from the sun (aphelion), it is 154 million miles (249 million kilometers) away and at its closest distance (perihelion), it is 128 million miles (206 million kilometers) from the sun.

For perspective, Earth is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) away from the sun. As a result, it takes longer for the red planet to orbit around the sun. It takes 687 equivalent Earth days compared to the 365.25 days it takes Earth.

How long does it take light to travel to Mars?

Light takes 12 minutes and 41 seconds to travel from the Sun to Mars but it depends on how far apart they are; which, in turn, depends on Mars’ position on its orbit. It takes 14 minutes for light to travel from Mars to Earth on average. But this also varies depending on how far apart the two planets are.

What are the diameter and circumference of Mars?

Mars: 4,212 miles (6,778 kilometers) diameter and 13,263 miles (21,344 kilometers) circumference.
Earth: 7,918 miles (12,742 kilometers) diameter and 24901 miles (40,074 kilometers) circumference.

A Martian day lasts an equivalent of 24.6 of Earth’s hours and its axis is tilted at an impressive 25.2 degrees. This angle partially explains why engineers have difficulty using joysticks to control the robots stationed on Mars. Instead, they send program files.

How long would it take to travel to Mars?

The time needed varies depending on the position of the two planets and their orbits. It can take between 6-8 months. The most efficient route is called the Hohmann Transfer Orbit.

What would you find when you get to Mars?

The Atmosphere:

Comparing the atmospheric composition of Mars to that of Earth:

Mars: 96% Carbon Dioxide, 2% Argon, and 2% Nitrogen.
Earth: 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and 1% Argon.

The atmosphere on Mars is considerably thinner than Earth’s. If we are to colonize Mars, the source of breathing the right mixture of air is one problem we’ll have to solve.

The air pressure is also very low; around 50 times lower than it is at Mount Everest’s peak. That hasn’t stopped it from having strong 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour) winds that cause massive storms and form dunes of Martian sand.

The Seasons:

Since Mars takes longer to orbit the Sun, it has longer seasons with each season lasting an average of 199 Earth days. Its orbit is less circular than ours which means that there are wider variations in its velocity and this also impacts seasonal patterns.

Its rotational axis changes more frequently than Earth’s causing more dramatic changes to its climate. The atmosphere is far thinner than ours which determines the amount of heat it traps. Therefore, it is colder on Mars.

There are highs of 70 degrees (21 Celsius) and lows of -225 degrees

(-107.2 Celsius) to give an average temperature of -81 degrees (-27.2 Celsius). The average temperature on earth is about 58.62 degrees (14.9 Celsius).

The Terrain:

Mars’ terrain is rugged and rocky. It has been impacted by volcanoes, winds, and other geological forces. The red planet has arguably the most dramatic landscape of any planet’s in the solar system; Mars has the tallest volcanic mountain and one of the deepest valleys.

The volcanic mountain, known as Olympus Mons, rises approximately 16 miles (25.7 kilometers) above the surface making it almost three times taller than our own Mount Everest. Its base has a diameter of 374 miles (601 kilometers). Climbing Olympus Mons would be a long journey but it wouldn’t be steep.

Mars plays host to one of the deepest points of a planet in the solar system. The red planet has a canyon system called Valles Marineris. It is approximately 2,500 miles (4023 kilometers) in length and up to 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) deep. In comparison to the Grand Canyon on Earth, Valles Marineris is five times longer and four times deeper.

Is there water on Mars?

Scientists estimate that billions of years ago, there were actual water bodies (rivers, lakes, etc.) on the surface. They suggest that the atmosphere must have been dense enough to pack enough heat to allow liquid water to flow.

However, things changed as it got colder. Now, you can only find frozen water underneath the surface as well as on the North Pole. It is a cold, windblown wasteland that Scientists speculate could have life forms in the frozen water reservoirs beneath its surface.

Why Mars is called “The Red Planet”

Mars is known as the red planet because it has a reddish hue about it (reminiscent of rust) from the photos and footage we have of it. Mars has that color due to the presence of Iron Oxide on its surface.

How many moons does Mars have?

Mars has two moons which are named after the sons of the God of War in Greek Mythology, they are:

  • Deimos (means dread/terror)
  • Phobos (means panic/fear)

Phobos which orbits at approximately 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) above the planet is slightly bigger than Deimos. It is the moon that orbits closest to a planet in the solar system. Phobos is said to be drawing ever closer to Mars and in 50 million years, it will either crash into the planet or break up into smaller asteroids that will form a ring around it.

Phobos could one day be used as a base from which robots and astronauts will study the planet. Deimos takes around 30 hours to orbit the planet.

How much would you weigh on Mars?

Mars’ mass is 0.107 the mass of Earth. Consequently, it has a gravitational pull that is just 37.5% as strong as that of Earth. Therefore, if you weigh 200 pounds (90 kilograms) on earth, you would weigh only 75 pounds (34 kilograms) on Mars.

Man’s Missions to Mars

We have sent robots and satellites to Mars with mixed success. Right now (2019), there are eight missions orbiting or scouring the planet. The most famous of them is NASA’s 2012 Curiosity Rover that was sent to examine the planet’s climate and geological features.

If you’re interested in viewing Mars for yourself, a telescope is the best way to do this. Check out my 10 Tips for buying your first telescope.

Additional Readings

I hope this article been of value to you and has answered the question: How far is Mars from Earth? If you enjoyed this articles please consider checking out some of these equally interesting articles:

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