Q:

What is the climate of Mars?

A:

Quick Answer

Due to its greater distance from the Sun, Mars has a much colder climate than Earth, with average temperatures of -80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although its atmosphere is very thin, clouds and storms still form on Mars, and the planet experiences all four seasons due to its axial tilt.

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Full Answer

The Martian climate is regulated by seasonal changes that affect the release of carbon dioxide from polar ice caps. Wind patterns that stir up dust from the planetary surface also produce widespread cooling. Martian dust storms play a large role in regulating the climate and can grow in size until they encompass the entire planet. Colder regions of Mars even experience snow, although the flakes are composed of frozen carbon dioxide rather than water.

Mars is much smaller than the Earth, and it lacks the planetary magnetosphere needed to protect its atmosphere from solar winds that strip away atoms and lower atmospheric density. With an atmosphere only 1 percent as dense as Earth's, Mars is unable to retain much heat at the planetary surface. Although its distance from the Sun creates a much colder global climate than Earth's, temperatures at the equator can still reach as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit at midday.

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