CHRIS BJORNBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS BJORNBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars. Illustration of Mars against a backdrop of stars. The north pole of the planet is covered by a cap of frozen carbon dioxide. The vast canyon system Valles Marineris is seen at left. Mars is just over half the size of Earth in diameter and is the next furthest planet from the Sun. Like the Earth, it goes through annual seasons in which the size of the polar ice caps varies. Unlike the Earth its atmosphere consists almost entirely of carbon dioxide and its surface is too cold for water to exist as a liquid. Its red colour comes from abundant iron on the surface, which has rusted and turned into iron oxide.
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