Why Is Mars Called the Red Planet?

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Mars, the red planet, is easily spotted with the naked eye if you gaze at the stars on a clear night. The planet will appear as a red star reflecting a bit of the mystery as to why Mars is called the red planet.

According to a report in the Times Now News, the planet may indeed be red. There are substances formed on the surface of Mars that contribute to its color. The planet’s surface is known as regolith, which is a mixture of dust and loose rocks. This compound contains high volumes of iron oxide, the same chemical that gives the blood and rust their reddish color.

Another factor causing the crimson appearance of the dry planet is the dust rising over its surface. The Martian soil is rich in iron and is believed to release large quantities into the dust. Continual storms drive the free soil into the air covering the surface of the planet.

History and Mythology of Mars

red planet

Interestingly, historians going way back to the Egyptian Empire were able to correctly guess the appearance of the red planet. However, some experts believe that the nickname of the planet was derived from one of these early titles. An article highlighted both Roman and Egyptian contributions.

  • Roman Empire named the planet after their god of war, Ares
  • The Egyptians called it ‘Her Dersher’ meaning the “Red One”
  • The Chinese labeled the planet as the .’First star”

Notably, Mars has always intrigued human beings, from the early sky watchers to modern voyagers. One well-known example is of Galileo Galilei. In 1610 he started a special observation of the planet. He noticed that it would appear bigger at times due to its varying distance from the Earth.

As time modernized with better technology, special space voyages were made to the red planet. In 1971, the Mariner 9 cruised into the planet’s orbit and started transmitting well-needed photographs. More countries joined the fray and pretty soon we landed robots on the surface of Mars.

Although many still prefer to call Mars the ‘Red Planet’, it is the center of continued studies which may one day make it our new home.



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