• LOCATION 19 | Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson

    Approaching Mars

    Marnie] Mars will be coming up on our left-hand side as we drive along this stretch. It is harder to stop here, so we suggest you keep lookout and wave as you drive past.

    Mars is home to the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. It's three times taller than Earth's tallest mountain, Mt. Everest. Its base is roughly the same size as the state of Victoria. That's one HUGE Volcano.

    Fred, do we know much about Mars?

    Fred] No planet in our solar system has been studied as intensely as Mars. Recorded observations of Mars date back to the ancient Egyptians but the Viking landers were the first to explore Mars in 1976. Dozens of robotic spacecraft have been sent since.

    It's nicknamed the "Red Planet" because of the iron minerals in the dirt that oxidize, or rust, causing the surface to look red. It was named after the god of war by the ancient Romans because its reddish colour looked like blood.

    Mars is about half the size of Earth but also has a day that is about 24 hours long. Some people believe humans may one day live on Mars. An earth year takes 365 days, but one year on Mars takes 669 days, or sols as they are known on Mars.

    Mars appears to have experienced huge floods about 3.5 billion years ago. There is still water on Mars today, in the form of water-ice just under the surface and salty water in the polar regions which have seasonal flows.

    [Marnie] Thanks Fred. Drivers, as you start to climb, you'll see brown signs indicating the turn right off to Siding Spring Observatory. Please note caravans are not permitted on the Observatory Road.

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Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson