A background to Mars exploration and research

Bargery, Alistair S.; Balme, Matthew R.; Warner, Nicholas; Gallagher, Colman J. and Gupta, Sanjeev (2011). A background to Mars exploration and research. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 356(1) pp. 5–20.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1144/SP356.2


Mars is the fourth planet in our Solar System and orbits roughly 230×106 km from the Sun. It has an orbital period of 687 Earth days and a solar day that is approximately 40 min longer than an Earth day. Mars is less dense and has half the radius of the Earth, and so has about one-tenth the mass; hence, the surface gravity of Mars is about four-tenths that of the Earth. Mars has no oceans and its surface area is therefore almost as large as that of Earth's continents. In this chapter, we present a summary of the Martian environment, global geography and geology, and provide some background on the missions and instruments that have played a role in developing our current understanding. Our aim is to provide a broad overview for those unfamiliar with Mars, rather than providing an exhaustive summary of every aspect of the planet's evolution.

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