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The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is in our online store, filled with Earth and space science resources.

Exploratour - The Atmosphere of Mars

The air of Mars is made of carbon dioxide molecules. Carbon dioxide is a fairly simple molecule with two oxygen molecules double-bonded to a carbon molecule.
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NASA

Composition of the Martian Atmosphere

On Earth, the atmosphere is composed of mostly of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). On Mars, the atmosphere is made mostly of carbon dioxide (95.3%), with a little nitrogen (2.7%), and a lot of dust particles mixed in. This means that there is no oxygen, which is essential to some forms of life.

A by-product of the presence of oxygen in an atmosphere is ozone, since oxygen can change over time to form ozone. Ozone is especially good at filtering out the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. Since Mars has no oxygen, this means that the surface of Mars is more exposed to these harmful rays of the sun than is the surface of the Earth.

There is very little water vapor in the atmosphere of Mars. Such small amounts of water in the atmosphere means that clouds are rarely seen in the Martian sky. And it is doubtful that it ever rains on Mars!

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Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects radiate in the infrared. The warmer the object, the higher the frequency and intensity of the radiation. Very hot objects give off other types of radiation in addition to infrared. Click...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

The awesome power of a giant black hole was revealed by looking at this galaxy in three different types of light. The picture that you see is of Centaurus A, a very peculiar galaxy. A galaxy is just a...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a plant in Gary, Indiana where power is made. We use power to run things like television sets, radios, lights, and microwave ovens. The picture looks very strange because it was taken in infrared....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF