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Red Planet Day

On November 28, 1964, Mariner 4, an exploratory spacecraft was launched from the United States on a 228 day mission to explore Mars. The spacecraft came within 6,118 of the red planet on July 14, 1965.

To commemorate the the launch and to honor the great engineering and scientific achievements that made the travels of Mariner 4 to Mars such a success, November 28 has been named Red Planet Day.

When looking at the planet Mars through a telescope, and at times with the naked eye, it appears to be a rusty looking reddish brown colored object. Since the reddish color dominates the view of Mars, it has been given the nickname, the "Red Planet."

Since the planet was discovered and tracked across the night sky centuries ago by Romans, Egyptians, Scandinavians, Chinese, Greek, and other early stargazers, the reddish color has been Mars' defining feature.

Red Planet day highlights some of the most well known facts about the Mars. Some of those facts have been known for hundreds of years while some have been discovered recently.

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the sun in our solar system. Earth is third.
  • Mars was named after either the Roman god of war or the Greek god of war.
  • The reddish color was associated with blood that is spilled during the fighting of wars.
  • The reddish color comes from a thin layer of iron oxide dust that is found in abundance on the planet.
  • It was thought that there might be water canals on the surface of Mars that were built by intelligent beings. This has proven to be untrue.
  • As of today, no life has been detected on Mars.
  • Mars is roughly 1/3 the size of the earth making it the second smallest planet in our solar system.
  • Mars has two very small moons, Phobos and Deimos. Phobos, the largest, is only around 14 miles in diameter.
  • Mars is a cold planet with average daily temperatures ranging from -190 to +50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mars has a very thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide.
  • The average distance from the sun is 136,764,000 miles.

Red Planet Day is a tribute to the many people who work tirelessly to uncover the many mysteries of Mars, the other planets in our solar system, and beyond. Since man landed on the moon decades ago, it has been the dream of astronauts, scientists, and engineers from around the world to land men on Mars and return them back to Earth safely.


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