Mars is the only other planet in the solar system where there is some chance that life exists. On top of that, there seems to be a clear plan for colonizing Mars in the coming years by us humans. Let’s discuss some similarities and differences between Earth and Mars to get a clear picture of our possible future home.
Earth and Mars – a comparison
Earth is the fifth largest planet in the Solar system. Among the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), Earth is the largest. Mars is the second smallest planet in the Solar system after Mercury.
Earth diameter – 12,742 kilometers (7917.5 miles)
Mars diameter – 6,779 kilometers (4,212 miles)
Earth has a single moon. Earth’s moon is one of the largest natural satellites in the Solar System. Mars has two small potato-shaped moons – Phobos and Deimos.
If you weigh 100 kg on Earth you will weigh 38 kg on Mars.
Acceleration due to gravity on Mars = 3.721 m/s²
Acceleration due to gravity on Earth = 9.8 m/s²
The atmosphere on Mars is very thin. The atmospheric pressure is just 6.518 millibars. The atmospheric pressure on Earth is 1.013 bar.
Mars atmosphere composition
Carbon Dioxide – 95%, Nitrogen – 2.6%, Argon – 1.9%, Oxygen – 0.16%, Carbon Monoxide- 0.06%
Earth atmosphere composition
Nitrogen – 78.08%, Oxygen – 20.95%, Argon – 0.9340%, Carbon Dioxide – 0.9340%
(Also read: Percentage of oxygen in the air | oxygen at high altitudes | Ozone)
Both Earth and Mars have polar ice caps. The ice caps on Mars are also primarily made of water ice.
Mars is a relatively colder planet. The average temperature on Mars is -65°C (-85°F). The average temperature on Earth is 15°C (59°F).
Both Earth and Mars have similar axial tilts. Earth’s rotational axis is tilted at an angle of about 23.5 degrees with respect to a perpendicular to the orbital plane. Mars’ axis is tilted at an angle of about 25 degrees.
Day and year
Due to similar axial tilts, Earth and Mars have almost equal day lengths.
1 day on Mars = 24.62 hours
1 day on Earth = 23.934 hours
1 year on Mars is almost equal to 1.9 Earth years.
1 year on Mars = 687 Earth days
1 year on Earth = 365 days
Mars is located near the outer boundary of the habitable zone
The habitable zone is a region in a Solar system where liquid water can exist on a planet’s surface given the atmospheric conditions are right. Mars is located near the outer boundary of our Solar system’s habitable zone. Earth is well within the habitable zone.
The highest mountain on Mars is Olympus Mons. It is 21.9 km (13.6 mi) high. This means that Olympus Mons is almost 2.5 times as high as Mount Everest (8,848.86 meters). Mars is not a very big planet and something like Olympus Mons to exist on Mars is really mind-boggling. Olympus Mons is actually a shield volcano.
Mars has a total surface area of about 145 million square kilometers. The open land on Mars and Earth is about the same as 71 percent of Earth’s surface is water.