The Coding Critters™ crew is on the move! Ranger and Zip have packed their space suits and are heading to Cape Canaveral in the USA to watch a rocket launch this July. Cape Canaveral is where the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launches rockets that blast off into space, and a special launch is taking place on about 30 July 2020. Read more about that below and find out 10 fascinating facts about Mars Ranger and Zip learned along the way.
While they were at Cape Canaveral, Ranger and Zip made a new friend who is about to make the long journey into space. Follow us on Instagram to see who they met and watch the rest of the Coding Critters World Adventures Stories too.
Mission to Mars
Ranger and Zip are journeying all the way to the USA to watch the rocket launch on 30 July. This rocket that will be blasting off into space will be carrying special cargo – the new Mars Rover, Perseverance. This robot rover has an important mission: to travel the surface of Mars looking for evidence of ancient life, and collect rock and soil samples, which may be brought back to Earth for scientists to investigate.
All life on Earth needs water to survive and scientists have found evidence of water on Mars. They think this means there may once have been living things on the planet, and maybe one day humans could live there. Perseverance is the smartest rover NASA has built so far, and it will investigate if there once was life, and what it could be like when future astronauts live and work there.
Once it has been launched into space, it’ll take the Perseverance rover about eight months to reach Mars where it’s set to land in the Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021. When Perseverance touches down, it’ll release another amazing exploration robot, a helicopter named Ingenuity which will whizz around to see what it’ll like to fly drones on Mars in the future.
10 fascinating facts about Mars for kids
Would you like to blast off into space and journey to Mars? Living there would be very different to Earth. Read these facts and then imagine what it will be like if you joined Perseverance on the Mission to Mars. Maybe you could write your own space story about it!
- Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It is a terrestrial planet which means that like Earth it has a hard, rocky surface you can walk on.
- Mars is called the Red Planet because of all the iron in the soil. This iron rusts and as a result, makes the surface and atmosphere look red.
- Mars may look warm but it’s very cold. The average temperature is -62 degrees Celsius. Yikes!
- Mars has two moons and their names are Phobos and Deimos.
- Mars can have huge dust storms which last for months and can cover the entire planet.
- A day on Mars is 24.6 hours, not much longer than an Earth day, but a year on Mars is 687 Earth days long. That’s almost twice as long as an Earth year. (Imagine only celebrating your birthday every two Earth years!)
- You’d be able to jump much higher on Mars because it has weaker gravity than Earth, and this means you’d weigh less too. Head here to find out what you’d weigh on Mars.
- The atmosphere on Mars is about 100 times thinner than the Earth’s atmosphere, and it has very little oxygen. You wouldn’t be able to breath the Martian air and would need a spacesuit with oxygen when you went outdoors.
- Humans haven’t been to Mars yet, but NASA has sent several rovers there already, and Perseverance will be the fifth. The first one was called Sojourner and it landed in 1997. Spirit and Opportunity landed in 2004, and the last time NASA landed a rover on Martian soil was in 2012. You can read more about what these rovers do by clicking here.
- In 2018, NASA’s Curiosity rover found signs which scientists think mean there once was life on Mars. Perseverance’s job will be to dig deeper – literally – by drilling into the surface.
Mars rover craft: make your own rocket
Want to try your hand at some space-inspired learning and crafts? We loved NASA’s straw rocket project you can do at home, and you can find even more ideas on their site.
Keep up the learning: Check out our blog post with more space facts for kids and download your free poster to print out and stick up.