Living on Mars


Ivania Rivera and Cristina Ruiz

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun in the solar system, the next one beyond Earth's orbit. At times it is the third brightest object in the night sky, only less than the Moon and Venus.

The orbit of Mars lies about 1.5 times as far away from the sun as the Earth's orbit. Mars' orbit is somewhat elliptical, so the distance from Mars to the Sun varies. Since Mars is farther from the sun than Earth is, it is much colder it takes longer for Mars to complete a revolution. Its year is 687 Earth days long, so one year on Mars is about 2 Earth years.

Mars is about half the size of Earth, but almost twice the size of the moon. Because of the planet's rotation Mars is slightly flattened. No measurable magnetic field for mars has been detected, which means that the core is solid and it explains why Mars has no radiation belt. The total mass of the planet is only one-tenth that of Earth, and that is why gravity on Mars is only 38% as strong.

The color of Mars' surface ranges from orange to brownish black. Mars has no oceans, therefore, no sea level, therefore, elevations on the planet are referenced to an artificial height, or average surface level. The average surface pressure of the atmosphere is less than 1/100 Çth of the average surface pressure of Earth's atmosphere, and it varies with season and elevation. The atmosphere on Mars goes through dramatic daily and seasonal temperature changes. It averages about 220k (-64 deg F) and varies from 145k (-199 deg F) during the polar nights to 300k (80 deg F) at the equator during day at perihelion, (when Mars is 128.4 million miles from the sun.)

The air pressure on Mars is extremely low and our lungs are used to breathing with higher air pressure - we would definitely need to have some kind of breathing apparatus to survive on Mars. Also the air on Mars contains different gases than air on Earth. On Earth, about 21 % of the air is oxygen, which humans need in order to breath. Nitrogen makes up about 78%. The rest consists of tiny amounts of Carbon Dioxide, Argon, and other gases. On Mars about 95% of the air is Carbon Dioxide. The remainder is mostly Nitrogen, with just small amounts of Oxygen, Argon, and other gases.

It is just not possible for humans to live for more than a few minutes with so little Oxygen. We could live on Mars if we lived in a sheltered colony,such as Biosphere 2. We just would not be able to go outside of the colony with out a space suit.

About the Authors

Cristina Ruiz and Ivania Rivera are students at West High School in Torrance Unified School District in Mr. Abouaf's first period Integrated Science class.


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