Planet Mars Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

We identify Mars with blood and death, but we can't stop sending spaceships up to explore it. In this lesson, you'll learn about the planet Mars and how humans have tried to look for water and even life on its surface.

The Planet Mars

Is there life on Mars? People have been trying to answer that question for hundreds of years. At first, we could only look up through telescopes, but for the last 50 years, we've been sending spaceships up to take a closer look.

So far, we haven't found any aliens on Mars. But we have found some other interesting things! In this lesson, you'll learn all about them.

Mars vs. Earth

Size comparison between Earth and Mars
Mars compared to Earth

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, after Mercury, Venus, and Earth. It's named after the Roman god of war.

Because it's further from the Sun, Mars takes longer to circle all the way around the Sun than Earth. That makes one year on Mars longer than one year on Earth. One year on Mars lasts 687 days, compared to 365 days on Earth. So if you're 10 years old now, you'd be just over 5 years old on Mars!

Mars is also smaller than Earth. If you stretched a tape measure around the middle of Earth, it would measure around 24,900 miles. If you did the same thing to Mars, it would only measure around 13,300 miles, about half as big.

Because the planet is smaller, gravity on Mars is lower, so everything weighs less. If you weigh 100 pounds right now, on Mars you'd only weigh around 38 pounds.

Mars is also colder than Earth. The average temperature on Mars is -82 degrees Fahrenheit. That's like winter in Antarctica. But in summer, the temperature can get up to 70 degrees, which is like a spring day.

Arsia Mons, a mountain on Mars
Arsia mons on Mars

Most of Mars is dry and dusty, but just like Earth, Mars has mountains and valleys. Mars also has weather, like storms, clouds, and fog. Another similarity is that Mars also has a North and a South Pole. The poles on Earth are frozen water, but on Mars, the poles are mostly frozen carbon dioxide with only a little water. You've probably seen frozen carbon dioxide in Halloween decorations: it makes a fog effect.

Exploring Mars

Humans have been sending spaceships to Mars since the 1960s. The first ships flew past the planet. Later ships went into orbit around it and eventually landed on the surface. No human has ever landed on Mars, but we've sent robots to explore and take samples.

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