Mars

Top similarities and differences between Mars and Earth

We are so close to creating a new home for ourselves in the solar system – scientists are one step away from developing a plan to make a new future for the human race on the planet of Mars. Since the 1960s, the countries of our world have been executing numerous missions to learn more about the “red planet” (Mars) and how it could be transformed into the next Earth. They have learned that this vibrant planet may not be so far off as it appears. 

Scientists call Mars “Earth’s cousin” as they share a number of similarities. There are also some claims that Mars was once even more similar to Earth than it is now; hosting water on its surface and even life. Let’s dig deeper into the similarities and differences between Mars and its cousin, Earth. 

Similarities and Differences Between Mars and Earth:

1. Surface Temperature

 Mars:

Average temperature: -81 degrees F (-62.8 °C)[1]

Highest temperature70 degrees F (20°C) at noon of equator in the summer[2]

Lowest temperature-225 degrees F (-135°C) at poles[2]

Earth:

Average temperature: 57 degrees F (13.9 °C)[1]

Highest temperature136.4 degrees F (58°C) measured in EL Azizia, Libya by 1922 [3]

 Lowest temperature-128 degrees F (-89.2°C) at Antarctica recorded by Vostok station  1983[4]

Conclusion: Even though Earth and Mars experience somewhat similar seasonal changes, as the surface of Mars reaches extremely low temperatures, presently, it would be exceedingly difficult to sustain human life on its surface. However, rather than shying away from this challenge, scientists have allowed it to motivate them to devise possible methods of controlling the temperatures on Mars. 

The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees F (-62.8 °C) lower than the average temperature on Earth 57 degrees F (13.9 °C). Though Earth, on average, is remarkably warmer than Mars, there are places on Earth that are uninhabitable during cold seasons due to their extremely cold temperatures, such as Antarctica.

 

2. Days and years length

a. Days Length

 Mars:  

Average day length : 24 hours 37 minutes[1]

Earth:

Average day length : 23 hours 56 minutes[1]

Conclusion: the length of a day on Mars is longer than a day on Earth by about 40 minutes. 

 

b. Year Length
Earth Mars Comparison by Year and Orbit [NASA/JPL-Caltech].

Mars:

Year length : 687 Earth days or 669 sols (Mars day)[1]

Earth Planet:

Year length : 365.25 Days[1]

Conclusion: Mars’s orbit is wider than Earth’s orbit, making a year on Mars longer by about 321.75 Earth days. 

3. Satellites

Journey to Mars, NASA

 Mars:  

Number of moons : Two moons[1]

Names of moons : Phobos and Deimos[1]

Moons details: Phobos moon has a diameter of 13.8 miles (22.2 km)[1] and mass of (1.08×1016 kg), while Deimos moon has diameter of 7.8 miles (12.6 km)[1] and mass of (2×1015 kg) 

 Earth:  

Number of moons : One moon

Moon details: Earth’s moon has a diameter of 2158.7 miles (3,474.2 km) and mass of (7.342×1022 kg) 

Conclusion: Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Phobos is larger and heavier than Deimos. When comparing Earth’s moon with Phobos (the largest of Mars’s moons), Earth’s moon weight around 6.79 million times more than Phobos, while the diameter of Earth’s moon is 156.49 times longer than Phobos.

 

4. Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide Levels

Mars: Oxygen level: 0.1% Carbon dioxide level: 96% Earth: Oxygen level: 21% Carbon dioxide level: 0.0391% Conclusion: Low oxygen levels affect humans tremendously: when oxygen levels are reduced to 9% in any space, a human becomes unconscious. If this level were to reduce further to between 6-7%, it would cause death in a matter of minutes.

5. Atmosphere

a. Atmosphere thickness

 Atmosphere thickness on Mars planet is 100 times thinner than the atmosphere of Earth planet[1]

b. Atmosphere pressure

 Mars:  

Average surface pressure value610 Pa[9]

 Earth:  

Average surface pressure value: 98,500 Pa

Conclusion: Earth’s atmosphere is 100 times thicker than Mars’s atmosphere, which makes life possible on Earth; protecting Earth and its rich, diversity of life from harmful solar radiation. 

Earth’s surface pressure is 180 times greater than the surface pressure on Mars.

6. Planets colors

Mars as it appears from Earth [NASA, in depth]
Actual color of Mars, NASA

 Mars:  

Color when viewed from Earth: mostly red 

Color when monitored from Mars’s surface:  butterscotch, golden, tan, brown, and greenish

Curious to learn more? Check out the following article about the actual color of Mars: “Is Mars Actually Red?

Earth:  

Color: mostly green, blue, white, and brown 

Conclusion: While Mars appears to be red when we look at it from Earth, its color is primarily butterscotch when looking past its atmosphere and onto its surface.

7. Distance from the Sun

Mars: 

Average distance from the Sun: 142 million miles (228.5 million km)[1]

Farthest distance from the Sun (Aphelion): 154.8 million miles (249.13 million km) – this instance in Mars’s orbit occurs around the 5th of July each year.

Shortest distance from the Sun (Perihelion): 128.4 million miles (206.64 million km) – this instance in Mars’s orbit occurs around the 4th of January each year.

 Earth:  

Average distance from the Sun: 93 million miles (149.7 million km)[1]

Farthest distance from the Sun (Aphelion): 94.5 million miles (152 million km) – this instance in Earth’s orbit occurs around the 5th of July each year.

Shortest distance from the Sun (Perihelion): 91.4 million miles (152 million km) – this instance in Earth’s orbit occurs around the 4th of January each year.

 

Conclusion: Mars is 1.5 times farther from the Sun than Earth (on average).

 

8. Gravity

Mars:  

Gravity value: 0.375 of the gravity value on Earth[1]

Earth:  

Gravity value: 2.66 of the gravity value on Mars[1]

Conclusion: The gravity on Mars is 62.5% less than the gravity on Earth, which means that if you weighed 100 lbs on Earth, you would weigh only 37.5 lbs on Mars! So, if you were to jump on Mars, the height of your jump would be almost three times higher than if you were to jump on Earth using the same amount of force.

9. Mountains

Olympus Mons volcano, captured by NASA

Mars:

The tallest mountain on Mars: Olympus Mons (a shield volcano that is 624 km (374 mi) in diameter and 25 km (16 mi) high — making it the largest volcano in the solar system)[5]

Earth:  

The tallest mountain on Earth: Mount Everest (8.85 km (5.5 mi) in height)

 Conclusion: Mars boasts the largest volcano in the solar system (Olympus Mons), which has a height of 25 km (16 mi) — 2.82 times the height of the tallest mountain on Earth: Mount Everest. 

 

10. Canyons

Valles Marineris canyon, captured by NASA

Mars:

The largest canyon on Mars: Valles Marineris or “The Grand Canyon of Mars.” This is the largest canyon in the solar system; extending over 3000 km (1864 mi) in length and spanning as much as 600 km (372.8 mi) across. Valles Marineris delves an astounding 8 km (5 mi) into Mars’s surface[6].

Earth:  

The largest canyon on Earth: Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, which stretches for 500 km (300mi)[7].

 Conclusion: Mars has the largest canyon in the entire solar system: Valles Marineris, which has an incredible length of 3000 km (1864 mi) — 6 times longer than the longest canyon on Earth (Yarlung Tsangpo).

11. Age

Mars:

Time of Mars’s formation: 4.5 billion years ago

Earth:  

Time of Earth’s formation: 4.7 billion years ago[10]

Conclusion: Earth is a bit older than Mars by about 0.2 billion years. However, both planets were almost formed within the same time period.

12. Mass

 Mars:  

Mass: 6.42x 1023 kg [8]

Earth: 

Mass: 5.97 x 1024 kg [8]

Conclusion: Earth is 9.2 times heavier than Mars.

Summary

Although Mars and Earth share some significant differences, Mars is still the key to the future of human life. While the temperatures, oxygen levels, carbon dioxide levels, and atmosphere thickness on Mars presently make it a hostile and uninhabitable place, scientists are working hard to discover how life on Mars could one day be possible.

Hani Kittaneh

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Hani Kittaneh

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