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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.

Selected article

Mars 96 (sometimes called Mars 8) was an orbiter launched in 1996 by Russia and not directly related to the Soviet Mars probe program of the same name. The orbiter's intended destination was Mars, but its actual destination was the Pacific Ocean, due to problems with the launch vehicle. The Mars 96 spacecraft was based on the Phobos vehicles launched to Mars in 1988. They were of a new design at the time and both ultimately failed. But for the Mars 96 probe the designers believed they had corrected the flaws of the Phobos vehicle. Alas, they did not get to find out if they had produced a successful design this time due to the launch vehicle failure.

It was, however, a very ambitious mission and the heaviest (intended) interplanetary probe ever launched. It included a large complement of instruments such as the Penetrator, many provided by France, Germany, and other European countries (some of which have since been re-flown on Mars Express, launched in 2003), and the United States. It was made up of the Orbiter, two Surface Stations, and two Penetrators.


Selected biography

A painting of Tycho Brahe.
Tycho Brahe About this sound listen  (14 December 1546 – 24 October 1601), born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. Coming from Scania, then part of Denmark, now part of modern-day Sweden, Tycho was well known in his lifetime as an astronomer and alchemist.

In his De nova stella (Of new stars) of 1573, he refuted the theory of the celestial spheres by showing the celestial heavens were not in an immutable or unchanging state of perfection as previously assumed by Aristotle and Ptolemy. His precise measurements indicated that "new stars" (now known as novae or supernovae), in particular that of 1572, lacked the parallax expected in sub-lunar phenomenon, and were therefore not "atmospheric" tail-less comets as previously believed, but occurred above the atmosphere and moon. Using similar measurements he showed that comets were also not atmospheric phenomena, as previously thought, and must pass through the supposed "immutable" celestial spheres.


Mars Atmosphere ˑ Exploration (Voyager 2) ˑ History

Major Moons ˑ Phobos ˑ Deimos ˑ

Astronomers: Tycho Brahe ˑ Johannes Kepler 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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