Mars, named for the Roman god of war, is a cold desert world of polar ice caps, volcanoes and canyons. While traces of water have been discovered on Mars, the atmosphere is so thin that liquid does not last long on the planet. It is commonly called the 'red planet' due to the iron oxide on the surface that gives off a reddish appearance.
The planet is difficult to see from Earth, but telescopic viewing shows that Mars has seasons thanks to its tilted rotational axis, like Earth’s. During these seasons, the polar ice caps grow and recede. A day on Mars is just slightly longer than a day on Earth, clocking in at around 24 hours and 39 minutes, while a Martian year is almost two Earth years.
The presence of water on the planet has long been theorized due to the presence of dark patches of land (initially assumed to be vegetation) and the ice caps. Various missions to Mars, including the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity, have found evidence of ancient water on the planet.
(Text by Noel Kirkpatrick)
(Photo: NASA)

10 spectacular moons in our solar system

Put yourself in Curiosity's shoes with 360-degree view of Mars

Now you can build your own mini Mars rover

NASA study throws cold water on idea of terraforming Mars

Dust storm continues to envelop Mars

9 mysterious images of Mars

Mysterious blue dune spotted on Mars

Why NASA is sending a helicopter on its 2020 Mars rover mission

NASA's next mission to Mars will light up the sky for millions on West Coast

Solar storm blankets Mars in planet-wide aurora

Water ice might exist along Mars' equator, and scientists don't know how it got there

United Arab Emirates to build Martian mini-city