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Uploaded on Dec 7, 2011
Mars is aptly referred to as the red planet as its surface is red due to a high concentration of iron oxides in the soil. Often the center of science fiction stories, Mars once was believed to support intelligent creatures. Missions to Mars in 1965 and again in 1976 proved that there were no living organisms on Mars. However, this small rocky planet, the fourth from the sun, does have polar ice caps that change in size with the seasons. It is believed that 3.5 billion years ago the most significant floods in the solar system took place on Mars. The Mars Odyssey found large amounts of ice about 1 meter below the surface of Mars in 2002. This ice, thought to be from the floods, would fill Lake Michigan over two times. This is still not enough water to explain the erosion visible on Mars.
Mars touts not only the highest point in the solar system, but also a canyon over 4 miles (6.5 km) deep. The highest point, the mountain Olympus Mons is 88,500 feet (almost 17 miles) above the surrounding area and has an astounding diameter of over 300 miles. The base of the mountain is surrounded by a cliff that drops 20,000 feet (almost 4 miles). Compared to Mount Everest, the tallest point on Earth at 29,035 feet, Olympus Mons is over three times taller. Another spectacle on Earth is the Grand Canyon which is 277 miles long and 6000 feet deep at its deepest point. On Mars, Valles Marineris is almost 2500 miles long, approximately the width of the United States, and nearly 4 miles (6.5 km) deep.