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There are worlds out there cold enough to instantly freeze an explorer into a human popsicle. And others hot enough to boil a person into a wisp of steam in seconds flat. There's also poisonous air, steel-crushing atmospheric pressure and winds that make Earth's most intense tornados seem tame. Pick a planet and read on to find out more amazing facts about our extreme solar system.
Slam Dunk
With gravity only one-third of Earth's, there's a good chance just about anyone could dunk a basketball in an NBA-regulation goal on Mars. Unfortunately, the required spacesuit might cut down on your edge.

The Real Grand Canyon
Mars' Valles Marineris is long enough to stretch from California to New York - more than 4,800 km (3,000 miles). The Martian canyon is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) deep and 320 kilometers (200 miles) wide. America's Grand Canyon is 'only' 446 kilometers (277 miles) long, 30 kilometers (18 miles) wide and its deepest point is 1,600 meters (5,250 feet).

Ring Around the Red Planet
Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons, is slowly sliding toward Mars. In about 50, 000,000 million years it will either smash into the planet or break up - creating a dusty ring around the Red Planet.

Into (Really) Thin Air
Towering above the planet at 27,000 meters (88,000 feet), Olympus Mons is three times as tall as Mt. Everest, the highest point on Earth. The long dormant volcano is so enormous its base could cover the entire state of New Mexico.

Are We There Yet?
If you could drive the minimum distance to Mars at an average highway speed - say 100 kph (62 mph) - it would still take more than 66 years to reach the Red Planet. A spacecraft takes about six months to get to Mars. It takes sunlight about 4 1/3 minutes longer to get to Mars than to get to Earth.

Speed Brakes
To survive a landing on Mars, a spacecraft must shave three zeroes off its speed in only six minutes - from about 19,000 kph (12,000 mph) in space to less than 19 kph (12 mph) at the surface.

More Mars Extreme Facts

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Last Updated: 01.08.04