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Why is Mars red?

Why is Mars red?

Whenever you see pictures of Mars, the one standout feature is its redness. If you’ve ever wondered what it is, that gives Mars its characteristic color, be sure to keep reading! Our friends at Planets for Kids help to explain the reason behind this planet’s red color.

A Layer of Dust

The rocks and soil on the surface of Mars contain a dust that is primarily made up of iron (in addition to small amounts of other elements, including chlorine). Wind eroded these surface rocks and soil, and ancient volcanos blew out the iron, spreading it all over the planet. 

When this happened, the iron within the dust reacted with oxygen, producing a red rust color. So, Mars is red because it has a layer of rusty dust covering its entire surface!

Dust Storms

Mars has some of the largest dust storms in the galaxy, in which the red dust gets whipped into the light atmosphere surrounding the planet. This is why Mars also appears to have a red sky.

Are you now wondering why the rust doesn’t blow away? Well, it appears that some of the dust does blow out and away from the planet. However, scientists believe that, while some of the dust blows out into space, more dust is being made. And as more is made, the dust storms continue to blow it across the planet, keeping its red color!  

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Why's" on the blog!