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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Summary

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the outermost of the rocky, terrestrial planets that make up the inner solar system. Mars is the second smallest planet; only Mercury is smaller. Surface gravity on Mars is 3.71 m s–2, which is 37.6% that of the Earth. The present atmospheric pressure is low (~0.6 kPa) relative to Earth’s (101 kPa), and the atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide (95%). The obliquity of Mars (tilt of the axis of rotation relative to the plane of orbit) is presently 25 degrees and may have varied by tens of degrees over the past tens of millions of years and longer (Laskar et al., 2004).