Mars earned its famous moniker, "red planet," due to its red appearance that is highly visible from Earth. The distinct rusty-red color of Mars is attributed to the abundance of iron-rich soil that covers the planet's surface.
Mars lies between Earth and Jupiter, ranking as the seventh largest planet in the solar system. Its mean distance from the sun is 142 million miles, traveling around the sun at an average speed of 14.5 miles per second. One Earth year on the planet constitutes 687 Earth days, where one day on Earth lasts 24 hours and 37 minutes on Mars. The red planet's atmosphere is mainly composed of carbon dioxide and small quantities of water vapor.
Mars was named by ancient astronomers after the Roman god of war. It is thought that the planet's red color is symbolic of blood, which is typically associated with war. This characteristic hue comes from the oxidized form of iron called iron oxide, commonly known as rust. Due to strong wind movement, rust particles are scattered to roughly coat the surface of Mars, which are then absorbed by the soil. The atomic configuration of rust allows it to emit the color red. However, the planet's surface is not entirely red. There are greenish-gray patches that are said to be bodies of water. Scientists speculate that the rust-colored areas on the red planet are arid regions with desert-like conditions.