How is Mars like?
Based on orbital observations and the examination of the Martian meteorite collection, the surface of Mars appears to be composed primarily of basalt. Some evidence suggests that a portion of the Martian surface is more silica-rich than typical basalt, and may be similar to andesitic stones on Earth; however, these observations may also be explained by silica glass. Much of the surface is deeply covered by a fine iron(III) oxide dust that has the consistency of talcum powder.
Rock strewn surface imaged by Mars PathfinderAlthough Mars has no intrinsic magnetic field, observations show that parts of the planet's crust have been magnetized and that alternating polarity reversals of its dipole field have occurred. This paleomagnetism of magnetically susceptible minerals has properties that are very similar to the alternating bands found on the ocean floors of Earth. One theory, published in 1999 and re-examined in October 2005 (with the help of the Mars Global Sur ...more