Mars gravity vs Earth, temperature on the Red Planet and everything you need to know after Nasa Perseverance rover lands
MARS is a pretty unforgiving place, with brutal dust storms and deadly solar radiation sweeping the planet's surface on a daily basis.
With Nasa successfully landing its most complex Mars rover yet on Thursday, here's everything you need to know about the dusty world.
Mars gravity vs Earth
Anyone crazy enough to settle on Mars will have to adapt to some pretty big changes to life here on Earth – including the planet's low gravity.
The gravity on Mars' surface is 62 per cent lower than on our own planet, meaning colonists would bounce around like astronauts on the Moon.
It means a person who weighs 100 kg on Earth would weigh only 38 kg on Mars.
As well as moving a little differently, Martian migrants would have to deal with weakening and shrinking of their leg and back muscles caused by the lack of weight load on their bodies.
What is the temperature on Mars?
Mars is further away from the Sun than Earth, meaning it's a lot colder at its surface.
The average temperatures there is around -60C (-80F). The planet hits highs of 20C (68F) at the equator and lows of −153C (−243F) at the poles.
For comparison, the coolest temperature records on Earth is −89.2C (−128.6F) at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983.
Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth, and due to the low air pressure there the planet doesn't retain heat for very long.
Distance from Earth to Mars
There is an immense distance between Earth and Mars, which means any trip to the red planet will take a very long time.
It's made more complicated by the fact the distance is constantly changing as the two planets rotate around the sun.
The closest that Earth and Mars ever reach is a distance of 33.9million miles – that's 9,800 times the distance between London and New York.
That's really rare though: the more useful distance is the average, which is 140million miles.
Scientists on Earth have already launched a whole bunch of spacecraft to (or near) Mars, so we have a rough idea of how long it takes with current technology.
Historically, the trip has taken anywhere from 128 to 333 days – admittedly a huge length of time for humans to be on board a cramped spacecraft.
When did Perseverance land on Mars?
Nasa’s Perseverance rover finally touched down on the Red Planet on Thursday after an incredible seven-month journey.
The robot beamed back incredible first images of Mars after successfully landing on the Red Planet.
It ended its 190million-mile flight when it gently touched down in a crater that was once a lake 3billion years ago.
Here, the six-wheeled machine will collect rock samples from the basin that will later be analysed for signs of extra-terrestrial life.
Perseverance touched down at 3.44pm ET (8.44pm GMT) last night.
Scientists held their breath during the “seven minutes of terror” as the vehicle plunged through the thin Mars atmosphere before landing.
Experts were especially nervous because it faced an 11½-minute communication lag as the landing approached — so the rover was on its own, unable to rely on controllers.
But then a huge cheer erupted from the control room as it was confirmed the landing was a success. Nasa chief Steve Jurczyk called it “amazing”.
The first images from the rover were a little grainy due to dust on the camera lens, but the rocky Martian surface is in clear view.
Nasa said better quality snaps will arrive in the coming days after the completion of initial checkups on its scientific instruments.
Here’s what you need to know about the Red Planet…
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun
- It is named after the Roman god of war
- The landmass of Mars is very similar to Earth but due to the difference in gravity you could jump three times higher there than you can here
- Mars is mountainous and hosts the tallest mountain known in the Solar System called Olympus Mons, which is three times higher than Everest
- Mars is considered to be the second most habitable planet after Earth
- It takes the planet 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun
- So far, there has been 39 missions to Mars but only 16 of these have been successful
Perseverance will trial technologies to help astronauts make future expeditions to Mars.
These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources such as subsurface water, and improving landing techniques.
They also involve characterising weather and other environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.
Steve Jurczyk, Nasa's acting administrator, said: "It's amazing to have Perseverance join Curiosity on Mars and what a credit to the team.
"Just what an amazing team to work through all the adversity and all the challenges that go with landing a rover on Mars, plus the challenges of Covid.
"And just an amazing accomplishment."
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In other news, you can catch up with all the latest on the Mars 2020 mission on our Perseverance liveblog.
Space geeks have revealed stunning 4K footage of Mars captured by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.
And, Elon Musk has warned that humanity may "self-extinguish" before we can colonise Mars.
What do you make of Nasa's Mars mission? Let us know in the comments!
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