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Q & A: Seasons on Mars

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
like earth mars has summers and winters why are there seasons on mars
- rachel (age 12)
england
A:
Rachel,
This is another good question about Mars. The reason Mars has seasons is the same as why we have seasons here on Earth. Mars spins on an axis. This axis is not 'straight up and down.' That means that if Mars' orbit were laid flat on the floor, then Mars' axis would not be sticking staight up in the airbut at an angle. The direction of Mars' tilt does not change much in space, but it does change relative to the sun. So when Mars is on one side of it's orbit, the Northern part of the planet points closer to the sun, and on the other side of the orbit, the southern part points closer to the sun.
Because certain parts of the planet face the sun more directly sometimes, the sun's light can hit it more directly, rather than at an angle. This causes the light intensity to be greater, and so it is warmer. This is what causes summer. In the same way, when a part of the planet is pointed less in the direction of the sun, the light hits it less directly, so it is not as warm. This is the cause of winter.
This is the same way we have seasons here on Earth. It just goes to show that learning about other planets can help you better understand your own.

I hope this answered your question

math dan

(published on 10/22/2007)

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