Happy Red Planet Day! Red Planet Day commemorates the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4 on November 28,1964. The 228 day mission of Mariner 4 brought the spacecraft within 6,118 miles of Mars on July 14, 1965 (so cool)!

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Fun Fact

1. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and last of the terrestrial planets and is around 227,940,000 km from the Sun.

2. The planet is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. It was known to the ancient Greeks as Ares, their god of war. This is thought to be because of the blood-red color of the planet which was also used by other ancient cultures. Chinese astronomers call Mars the “fire star” while ancient Egyptian priests called it “Her Desher” meaning “the red one”.

3. Mars experiences huge dust storms – the largest in our solar system. This is due to the elliptical shape of the planet’s orbit path around the Sun. The orbit path is more elongated than many of the other planets and this oval shaped orbit results in fierce dust storms that cover the entire planet and can last for many months.

4. Mars has both North and South polar ice caps, much like Earth. Also like Earth, both ice caps are made mostly of frozen water. With so much water frozen in the ice caps of Mars, some scientists think that life could have once existed there.

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