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Why your child asks about Mars is not important, even if it comes from seeing Marvin the Martian in a cartoon. The hard part is translating facts about the Red Planet and during them into Mars for Kids information. Here are a few kid friendly Mars facts and some resources aimed directly at children.
Mars has two moons. Their names are Phobos and Deimos. Both are very small and appear to be mostly rock like asteroids. Phobos actually orbits Mars twice each day. Wouldn’t it be weird to see two moons at once and the same one twice every day?
The gravity on Mars is much less than it is here on Earth. In fact, the gravity is only 38% of Earth’s. Just for fun, step on the bathroom scale and multiply your weight by 38% on a calculator.
Mars is often referred to as the Red Planet, but do you know why? There is a large amount of iron in the material on the surface of Mars. When that iron mixes with the atmosphere it oxidizes(rusts). So, Mars is red because it is covered in a layer of rust.
No one knows who discovered Mars. It is one of the planets that is visible without a telescope, so people have seen it since the beginning of time. This is called being discovered by the ancients.
The first pictures taken from orbit around another planet were taken of Mars. There have been more space missions to Mars than any other planet besides Earth. Currently there are 6 spacecraft in orbit or on the surface. They are: Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Phoenix, Mars Science Laboratory(Curiosity Lander), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Express, and Mars Odyssey. Each has its own page on NASA’s website, so be sure to look them up.
Well, that brings us to Mars for Kids resources. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a page with games that are Mars related. NASA has an educational page that is designed for K-4 grades. The Kids Astronomy website is solely dedicated to educating children about astronomy. These are all reliable sources that have good information. If you decide to use other websites, be careful.
We have also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast that’s just about Mars. Check it out here: Episode 52: Mars.