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Does Mars have a core like the Earth? What are the similarities structurally between the Earth and Mars?

Unfortunately, we don't really know very much about the inside, or "core" of Mars. However, scientists think that it's between 2200-4000 km (1400-2500 miles) across and made of iron. If you weighed Mars, the core would take up one or two tenths of its total weight.

The Earth's core is about 7000 km (4350 miles) across and is made of iron and nickel. About one third of the Earth's weight is contained in its core (that would make a lot of nickels!).

Mars and Earth are very different, but they do have some things in common. Mars has volcanoes and mountains like Earth, but Mars' are much larger. In fact, Mars is home to the biggest mountain in the entire solar sytem! Olympus Mons stands more than 16 miles (26 km) high and is over 375 miles (600 km) across. That's at least 3 times bigger than Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth!

Even though it might be exciting to see the Martian mountains, I don't recommend going there for a vacation--there's no water to swim in or drink, it's usually below zero degrees (even during summer!), and you wouldn't be able to breathe!

Submitted by Brian (Arizona, USA)
(September 8, 1997)

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA