Why is Mars Red: The Answer Might Intrigue You to Be Passionate About Space

Why is Mars Red

Why is mars red? Mars is commonly referred to as the “Red Planet,” but is it truly red? The color of the Martian Surface is due to the presence of iron oxide in its bedrock, or surface coating, which is the same chemical that gives blood and rust their pigment. But why is there so much iron on Mars, why is it “oxidized,” and why does iron oxide seem red?

Why is Mars Red – The Answer Further Explored

Why is Mars Red
© Christian Lischka SJ / Why Mars is Red

All of this began 4.5 billion years ago. Several of the planetary bodies landed with a dose of iron. The hefty element spun around in the cloud of gas and dust that gravitational forces condensed to create the sun and celestial objects, forged in the center of long-dead stars. When Earth was young and molten, the majority of its iron sunk to its center, but NASA scientists believe Mars’ smaller size (and less gravity) allowed it to remain less separated. It has an iron core, but it also has a lot of iron on its surface layer.

David Rubie and colleagues at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, published a study in 2004 that provided this rationale. “I do not know of any other explanation for Mars’s rustiness,” John Murray, a planetary scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, told the journal Nature at the time.

But if you get a close-up view — with an orbiter, lander or rover — you’ll see that a lot of Mars is actually more of a butterscotch color.

Depending on what minerals are around, some landscapes can be more golden, brown, tan, or even a little greenish.

So in fact, there are a lot of different colors on what we call the Red Planet.

Mars in a Minute: Is Mars Really Red? Why is Mars Red

The climate on Mars is thinner than on Earth, which is one of the reasons why people would need a spacesuit to thrive there. Because of the low atmosphere on Mars, sunlight that bounces away from the planet appears red due to a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering—or the lack thereof. Which starts to answer the question, why is mars red.

Whenever light collides with particles smaller than the wavelength of that light, such as gas particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, rayleigh scattering occurs. This process scatters blue light, which is why the Earth’s sky appears blue throughout the day. Rayleigh scattering is less common on Mars because there is less atmosphere for the sunlight to interact with. On Mars, however, a mechanism known as Mie scattering occurs when sunlight strikes particles the same size as the wavelength of that light, such as iron oxide particles. We hope you liked this article on why is mars red!

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