The Red Planet

Science Project 2206

Will Libs

Mars is a giant, flaming red planet, fourth from the sun in our solar system. I have read that Mars was formed over 4.6 billion years ago and during its lifetime it has had three different periods, each period named after a surface region on the planet and they are as follows;

1.NOACHIAN PERIOD- named for the Noachis Terra, the vast highland in the southern hemisphere of the planet, this part has lots of craters and volcanoes formed at the beginning of the planet’s existence.

2. HESPERION PERIOD- named after the Hesperia Planum, or the high planes in the lower latitudes of the southern hemisphere. This is where the deserts are; these were formed when all the water dried up. The deserts are wrapped totally around the middle of the planet.

3. AMAZONIAN PERIOD- named for the Amazonis Plantia, or low plain in the lower latitudes of the northern hemisphere. This place has lots of volcanic eruptions and ice caps. Those were formed during this time.

These are the time periods of the planets from a scientific standpoint but it is more interesting to find out about how the planet got it’s name, MARS! Mars has been obvious to stargazers since prehistoric times. The Egyptians called it “The Red One” and the Babylonians called it “The Star of Death”. The Romans were the ones to give it its modern name.
Mars was known as the God of farmland and fertility in ancient times and the Romans decided to call this planet MARS after they came into contact and battle with the Greeks. To the Romans Mars was the “bringer of War” and that was what happened!
The red, fiery appearance of Mars is caused by iron oxide (rust) on its surface and lots of gases. Mars is only about a quarter the surface area of the earth, or about the same as the earth without any water. The earth has plenty of oceans but Mars has none.

Some interesting characteristics of Mars are the planet travels around the sun in an oval orbit. Mars travels around the sun once every 687-earth days (this is a Martian year). A Martian solar day is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. The equatorial diameter is about 4228 miles, which is less than a quarter of the earths. The mass of Mars is 7.08 x 10 to the 20th tons or only about a 10th of the Earth! Surface temperatures are amazing! The can get as low as – 140 C, have an average of –63 C and can get as warm as 20 C, which is around our 68 degrees F on Earth. Mars has seasons were they get lots of dust storms that stir up all the gases and create the red haze we can see through a telescope. The physical features of the planet include 3 main layers; the crust, the mantle and the core, we cut the earth up like this too.

    a.The Crust- 30 miles thick, thinner in the north than the south due to elevation. Composed volcanic rock.
    b.The Mantle- Just like the Earths, formed from rock.
    c.The Core- Composed of iron, nickel, and sulfur. Less dense than the earth and this makes the overall radius (the distance around the planet) smaller than the Earth.

The atmosphere of Mars has lots of gases; Carbon Dioxide (95%), Nitrogen, Argon, Oxygen, Carbon Monoxide, Neon, Krypton, Xenon, Ozone and Methane. You could blow something up with all this gas! Was there ever life on Mars? This planet may have once had life; it had all the necessary chemical ingredients (C, H, O, N), liquid water and an energy source (sunlight). Lots of great SCI- FI movies have been made about the possibilities of life on Mars!


MOONS: Mars has two tiny moons; they are called Phobos and Deimos. These moons orbit very close to the planet and are thought to be captured asteroids. The Earth only has one moon. There are at least 140 moons in the Earth’s solar system, but the main ones are ; the Earth’s, which is actually called the moon or luna, the two moon’s of Mars named above and last but not least, the three moons of Pluto’s one named Charon and the other two just have numbers.

THE MARS FLAG: In 2000 a Mars flag was aboard the spaceship Discovery. It was designed by a NASA engineer and carried onboard the spaceship. The flag has three vertical strips (red, green and blue). These colors symbolize the transformation of Mars from a barren planet (red) to one with life (green) and finally a fully formed planet with bodies of water. This design was suggested by Kim Stanley, the author of the SCI FI trilogy Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. This flag has been adopted by the Mars Society as the official banner for Mars.


Gustav Holst wrote the orchestral collection, The Planets around 1914. The suite has seven movements each of them named after a planet.

Mars, the bringer of War
Venus, The bringer of Peace
Mercury, the Winged Messenger
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jolity
Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
Uranus, the Magician
Neptune, the Mystic

My favorite movement is; Mars, the Bringer of War. It is very complicated and has all kinds of loud, hard driving rhythms, loud brass and plenty of percussion. Some people feel it was written about World War 1. My Mom likes this movement the most because it has lots of loud brass playing and it is fun to play!

Mars and Science fiction!

I think Mars has always been a popular topic for SCI FI movies because we know there is frozen water and leads us to imagine that there was or still are real “Martians”!
Many writers have claimed that Mars was a planet that had ancient civilizations on it and when the planet cooled and dried people died off. The best-known SCI FI thriller is H.G. Wells; War of the Worlds, in which Martians seek to escape their dying planet by invading earth. There is also the famous black and white cult classic;” Invaders From Mars”. This movie was made in 1953 and I think it is hysterical because they use totally cheesy costumes!
I have also read a collection of Martian stores contained in the book “Martianology” which was editied by Dr. Anne Hardin. Dr. Hardin sent me this book along with “The Magic Ball From Mars. You can read my book report on this book at the website; And remember this; THERE COULD BE LIFE ON MARS………


“Mars”. Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. 1983
“The Planet Mars. CD-ROM. World Book. World Book Inc. 2002.
“Mars”. (1/17/06).
“Holst: The Planets” .CD. A Sonic Spectacular, New York Philharmonic. Columbia M31125 1973.
Ackerman, Forest Ed by Anne Hardin.. Martianology. Rockville, MD. Sense of Wonder Press. 2003.
Biemiller, Carl. The Magic Ball From Mars and Starboy. Rockville, MD. Sense of Wonder Press. 1953, 2003.
Libs, Will. “Starboy” 2005.
C.L. Biemiller's Home Harvest of Memories Magic Ball From Mars Will's Starboy Report