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Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is known as the "Red Planet" due to its reddish appearance as seen from Earth. The planet is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. A terrestrial planet, Mars has a thin atmosphere and surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of the Earth. The planet has the highest mountain in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, as well as the largest canyon, Valles Marineris. Mars's rotation period and seasonal cycles are also similar to those of the Earth. Of all the planets in the Solar System other than Earth, Mars is the most likely to harbour liquid water and perhaps life. There are ongoing investigations assessing Mars's past potential for habitability, as well as the possibility of extant life. Future astrobiology missions are planned, including NASA's Mars 2020 rover and the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Rosalind Franklin rover. In November 2016, NASA reported finding a large amount of underground ice in the Utopia Planitia region of the planet. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped.

This picture is a true-colour image of Mars, taken from a distance of about 240,000 kilometres (150,000 mi) by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, during its February 2007 flyby of the planet. The image was generated using OSIRIS's orange (red), green and blue filters.

Photograph credit: European Space Agency

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