Planet Guide and Information - Mars

Name
Mars
Distance from Sun (average)
228 million km
Diameter
6,790 km
Length of day
24 hours 37 minutes
Length of year
687 days
Mean surface temperature
-23°C

Mars has always held a special place in the hearts of planetary astronomers and at one time was even thought to harbour intelligent life. This has now been ruled out although the presence of primitive Martian life is still thought highly possible. Being smaller and less dense than Earth, Mars only has a thin atmosphere and through it telescopes can perceive a wealth of surface features. The polar ice caps can be seen to expand and contract with the seasons and several space probes visiting the Red Planet have reported, among other things, huge dust storms which are often large enough to be seen from Earth.