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The Little Desert Planet. 1. Mythology. Image Credit: 2. Mars Mythology ( Greek & Roman). Son of Zeus (Jupiter) & Hera (Juno) Grandson of Cronos (Saturn) Half-brother to Hercules & Orion

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Mars mythology greek roman
Mars Mythology (Greek & Roman)

  • Son of Zeus (Jupiter) & Hera (Juno)

  • Grandson of Cronos (Saturn)

  • Half-brother to Hercules & Orion

  • Considered to be father of Romulus & Remus, founders of Rome, by the Romans.


Mars mythology greek roman1
Mars Mythology (Greek & Roman)

  • The ancient Greeks believed him to be the father of Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Panic). Aphrodite (Venus) was their mother.

    • ‘Phobos’ gives us our word ‘phobia’.

    • ‘Deimos’ gives us our words demon & demonic.

  • Mars (Ares) was, ironically, the patron god of both warfare and agriculture!

Image Credit:


Mars physical properties
Mars’ Physical Properties

Mars isroughly½ ofEarth’sdiameter.

Image Credit: br_earth-mars-front.jpg



Mars has a mass about 11% that of theEarth. The Earth is 9.3 x heavier!


Mars’densityis 3.94g/cm3.Earth’sis 5.5g/cm3.??????

Image Credit:


Conclusion:Mars’ core isproportionatelysmaller thanEarth’s core.

Image credit:


Orbit rotation not too different from ours
Orbit & RotationNot Too Different From Ours

  • Average distance from the sun:

    228 million km (1.52 A.U.)

  • Perihelion: 207 million km.

  • Aphelion: 249 million km.

  • Orbit eccentricity: 0.0935 (very elliptical)


Familiar orbit
Familiar Orbit

  • Orbital period: 687 days or 1.88 years

  • Inclination of orbit to ecliptic: 1.85o

    • This is enough to benoticeable to the naked eye.

  • Minimum distance from earth is 55 million km, at opposition. Maximum is 401 million km, at superior conjunction.


Familiar orbit1
Familiar Orbit

  • Due to the 1.88 year orbit, seasons on Mars would last about 5½ months on average! But…the Martian summer is over a month longer than the winter, due to Mars’ elliptical orbit!


The 2003 opposition

was here


Familiar rotation
Familiar Rotation

  • Mars rotates in the normal (prograde) direction in 24 hours 37 minutes. (Sidereal period)

  • Its noon-to-noon day is 24 hours 40 minutes. (Synodic period)

  • Axis is tilted 25.2o relative to its orbit.

  • Fast rotation, yet no magnetic field.

    • Conclusion?


Mars interior
Mars’ Interior

  • Our conclusion may be wrong!

  • "Mars is influenced by the gravitational pull of the Sun. This causes a solid body tide with a bulge toward and away from the Sun (similar in concept to the tides on Earth). However, for Mars this bulge is much smaller, less than 1 centimeter (0.4 inch). By measuring this bulge in the Mars gravity field we can determine how flexible Mars is. The size of the measured tide is large enough to indicate the core of Mars can not be solid iron but must be at least partially liquid."(Dr. Charles Yoder – JPL Planetary Sci.)


Almost no magnetic field
Almost no magnetic field

  • Mars has no internally-produced magnetic field (no internal dynamo), even though it rotates almost as fast as earth does.

  • Solar wind interacts with the thin atmosphere to produce an ionosphere, which produces an induced magnetosphere.

  • The bow shock is located only ¼ of a Martian diameter out from the surface (1700 km).


Strength is

1/10,000th of

earth’s field.


Mars magnetic field
Mars’ magnetic field

  • What little bit of magnetism Mars does have is broken up into smallregions – it’s not planet-wide like the earth’s.

  • If the interior of Mars is still at least partly molten, and Mars rotates fast, why no magnetic field? Hmmmm……..!?


In the late 1800’s, anItalian astronomer,Giovanni Schiaparelli,thought he saw longstraight “canali” orchannels on Mars.He drew hisobservations……..


Schiaparelli didn’t make any claims aboutwhat these channels were…but someoneelse did.


Percival lowell
Percival Lowell

  • Wealthy American Astronomer Percival Lowell mistook the Italian word “canali” to mean “canals”. (Maybe a natural mistake!)

  • He used his own money to build theLowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona, to study these “canals”.

  • Lowell concluded that these “canals” had been built by intelligent “Martians”.


Lowell at his telescope.


Lowell’s observatory

and telescope.


Lowell s legacy lives
Lowell’s legacy lives!

  • Lowell’s idea about intelligent Martians became very popular with the American public.

  • Much of our early (and present) science fiction comes from this idea.

  • H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” was based upon this idea.


The War of the Worlds wotw/illus/interior.html


“This is Glub, sitting in for Tom Dunn on the

‘Eleven O’Clock News,’ and I wish to announce that

there has been a rather sudden and sweeping

change in your government.


We still have

little green men –

a coincidence?