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Mars as photographed by the Hubble telescope.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in our solar system. It is named after the Roman god of war Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) because of its apparent red color. This feature has also earned it the nickname "The Red Planet". The prefix areo- refers to Mars in the same way geo- refers to Earth. The astronomical symbol for Mars is ♂, a circle with an arrow pointing northeast. The Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures refer to the planet as 火星, or fire star. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features such as craters, giant valleys, and volcanoes. Of all the planets in our Solar System other than Earth, Mars is the most likely to harbor liquid water, and perhaps life.

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Phobos moon (large).jpg
Phobos is the larger and closer of Mars' two moons (the other being Deimos), both discovered by Asaph Hall. It is named after the Greek god Phobos (which means "fear"), a son of Ares (Mars). Its surface is mostly composed of carbonaceous chondrites and is heavily cratered. Phobos is one of the smallest moons in the solar system, and orbits about 9377 km (5823 mi) above the surface of Mars, closer to its primary than any other planetary moon. Because of this close orbit, the moon will crash into Mars' surface in the future. Phobos can cast shadows onto the surface of Mars when it passes between the Sun and Mars. Phobos' origin is unclear, and has been identified as a captured asteroid or even the remains of a planetesimal. One debunked claim suggested that Phobos is of artificial origin and is hollow. Spacecraft have imaged Phobos while orbiting Mars. The Phobos spacecraft were meant to explore Phobos in greater detail, but both failed en route. There are future plans to explore this moon.

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Percival Lowell
Percival Lawrence Lowell (March 13, 1855 – November 12, 1916) was a businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer who fueled speculation that there were canals on Mars, founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and formed the beginning of the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto 14 years after his death. The choice of the name Pluto and its symbol were partly influenced by his initials PL.

Percival Lowell, a descendant of the Boston Lowell family, was the brother of A. Lawrence, president of Harvard University, and Amy, an imagist poet, critic, and publisher. Percival graduated from the Noble and Greenough School in 1872 and Harvard University in 1876 with distinction in mathematics. At his college graduation, he gave a speech, considered very advanced for its time, on the "Nebular Hypothesis." He was later awarded honorary degrees from Amherst College and Clark University.


Mars Atmosphere ˑ Exploration (Voyager 2) ˑ History

Major Moons ˑ Phobos ˑ Deimos ˑ

Astronomers: Tycho Brahe ˑ Percival Lowell ˑ Gerard Kuiper ˑ Christiaan Huygens

See Also: Formation and evolution of the Solar System ˑ Terrestrial planet ˑ Nebular hypothesis

Bold articles are featured.
Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or minor moons.

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Mars Science Laboratory
Credit: NASA

An artist's concept of Mars Science Laboratory, a NASA Mars rover deployed on Mars August 2012.


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The Northern Polar Ice Cap of Mars.

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