MARS (RED PLANET) (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     1st July 2024        

Context: According to new research, Mars experiences frequent impacts from space rocks, creating seismic waves and forming 8-meter-wide craters, revealing a more dynamic activity level than previously understood.


  • About: It is the fourth planet from the Sun, derives its name from the Roman God of war and is commonly referred to as the "Red Planet" due to its distinctive reddish appearance.
  • Characteristics and Composition: The reddish coloration of Mars is attributed to the presence of a significant amount of iron oxide, commonly known as rust, in its surface rocks and soil.
  • Size: Mars is almost half the size of Earth, with a diameter of 6,791 kilometers, making it the second smallest planet in our solar system after Mercury. 
  • Moons: It is also home to the moons Phobos and Deimos.
  • Temperature: Due to its considerable distance from the sun, Mars experiences extreme temperatures, with equatorial temperatures reaching 20°C and polar parts dropping as low as -140°C.
  • Volcano: Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, is located on Mars.
  • Similarity to the Earth (Orbit and Rotation):

oMars completes one rotation every 24.6 hours, similar to Earth's 23.9-hour day.

oThe axial tilt of Mars is 25 degrees, comparable to Earth's 23.4 degrees.

oMars experiences distinct seasons, which are longer than those on Earth.

oMartian days are known as sols.

Mars Mission of India

  • Launched: Mangalyaan (MOM) was launched aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C25) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Mission Duration: The spacecraft spent over 300 days cruising in deep space before successfully entering Mars orbit on September 24, 2014.
  • First Attempt Success: India achieved Martian orbit insertion on its very first attempt, marking a historic first for any Asian space agency.
  • Global Achievement: The mission made India the first Asian country and the fourth in the world to reach Mars, after Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
  • International Recognition: China hailed India's successful Mangalyaan mission as the "Pride of Asia".
  • Payloads: Mangalyaan carried 850 kg of fuel and five science payloads, including a Mars Color Camera (MCC) for studying the Martian surface and atmosphere post-orbit insertion.

Other Countries Mars Missions

  • Mars Express- European Space Agency (2003)
  • Curiosity-NASA (2011)
  • InSight lander- NASA (2018)
  • Hope Mars Mission- United Arab Emirates (2020)
  • UAE’s Hope Mars Mission (UAE’s first-ever interplanetary mission) (2021)