Mars: Top Ten Fun Facts


One of the first images taken by Perseverance on Mars!

Do you remember when I had the good fortune of chaperoning Team Mercury to the Kennedy Space Center? My daughter, along with her team of high school Space Exploration students and their teacher John Yi, took a trip to the KSC when they won NASA’s App Development Challenge. We watched the launch of a rocket, NASA’s Orion Ascent Abort-2, toured the building where rockets are built, the Vehicle Assembly Building, built our own rockets, stood under the Space Shuttle Atlantis, and learned about NASA’s work to get Perseverance to Mars through lectures and participation in the Mars Experience.

On February, 18, 2021, Perseverance landed on Jezero Crater on Mars, and the excitement of the engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab was palpable. Perseverance, which launched from Earth on July 30, 2020, will stay on Mars at lease one Mars year (657 Earth days) with a goal of seeking “signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.” Hon, did you watch the landing? Want to view raw images from Mars? Click here.

Top Ten Fun Facts About Mars

  1. Mars is named after the Roman God of war.
  2. Mars is red because of rusty iron in the ground.
  3. The average temperature on Mars is minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  4. There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds.
  5. A day on Mars is 24 hours and 37 minutes.
  6. A year on Mars is 687 Earth days because it takes a lot longer than Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun.
  7. Mars has two moons. Their names are Phobos and Deimos.
  8. Based on the make-up of the planet and atmosphere (iron, magnesium, sulfur, acids and CO2), researchers have concluded that Mars smells like rotten eggs.
  9. Mars is home to the highest mountain in our solar system, a volcano called Olympus Mons, which is about three times the height of Mount Everest.
  10. The first spacecrafts to land on Mars were the Viking Landers, which touched down on the surface in 1976.

Sources: NASA Science Space Place, Australian Academy of Science, National Geographic Kids

NASA Trip–Vehicle Assembly Building

Even though we were told the Vehicle Assembly Building covers 8 acres, the enormity of the building didn’t hit home until we walked inside. Then, it was like looking up inside a skyscraper!

Top Ten Fun Facts About NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building

  1. The VAB is part of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and was designed so that the Saturn V and Space Shuttle could be assembled and stacked vertically onto the Mobile Launch Platform.
  2. Construction for the Vehicle Assembly Building was completed in 1966.
  3. At 525 feet tall, the VAB is the largest single story building in the world.
  4. The American flag painted on the VAB as part of the 1976 United States Bicentennial celebrations was the largest in the world at that time.
  5. On the American flag, each star is 6 feet tall, each stripe is 9 feet wide, and the blue field is the size of a regulation basketball court.
  6. 4,225 pilings were driven down 164 feet to bedrock with a foundation consisting of 30,000 cubic yards of concrete.
  7. Inside the building, there are four high bays where rockets can be assembled.
  8. The doors to the VAB are the largest in the world at 456 feet (139.0 m) high, and take 45 minutes to completely open or close.
  9. The VAB has its own weather! Since the building’s interior volume is so vast, humid air rises, moisture condenses and forms on surfaces, and the condensations falls down, like rain.
  10. The building has been used as a backdrop in several Hollywood movies including Marooned, SpaceCamp, Apollo 13, Contact to name a few.

Team Mercury

Source: Wikipedia