by Denise Witmer Updated October 21, 2018
Scientists are learning more about the planet Mars every year and that makes now a perfect time to use it as the subject of a science fair project. It is a project that both middle and high school students can pull off and they can take many different approaches to create a unique and impressive display.
Why is Mars Special?
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is commonly referred to as the Red Planet. Mars is more similar to Earth than Venus in regards to atmosphere, even though it’s only just over half the size of our planet.
There is intense interest focused on Mars due to the possibility of liquid water being present there. Scientists are still trying to figure out if there is still water on Mars or if it was present at some time in the plant’s past. That possibility yields the chance of Mars harboring life.
- Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos.
- Mars is named after the Roman god of war and it influenced the naming of the month March.
- One year on Mars is equal to about two years on Earth.
- One day on Mars is half an hour longer than one day on Earth.
- The atmosphere of Mars is 95% carbon dioxide.
NASA has been sending spacecraft to study Mars since 1964 when Mariner 3 attempted to photograph the planet. Since then, over 20 space missions have launched to explore the surface further and future missions are planned as well.
Recent Mars Expeditions
The Mars rover, Sojourner, was the first robotic rover to land on Mars during the Pathfinder mission in 1997. More recent Mars rovers like Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity have given us the best views and data available to date from the Martian surface.
Mars Science Fair Project Ideas
- What does NASA have planned for future Mars missions? Will they be able to build a Mars colony? If so, what will it look like and how are they preparing for it?
- How long does it take to travel to Mars? When astronauts are sent to Mars, what will the trip be like? Are photographs sent back from Mars in real-time or is there a delay? How are the photos relayed to Earth?
- How does a rover work? Are the rovers still working on Mars? If you love to build things, a scale model of a rover would be a great project!
- Plant different types of seeds to see what food can grow in Martian soil.
- Explain the forces at work when the Mars orbits the sun. What keeps it in place? Is it moving further away? Does it have remain the same distance from the sun as it orbits?
- Study pictures of Mars. What new discoveries did we learn from pictures the rovers sent back versus satellite photos NASA captured before? How does the Martian landscape differ from Earth? Are there places on Earth that resemble Mars?
- What are the features of Mars? Could they support some kind of life? Why or why not?
- Why is Mars red? Is Mars really red on the surface or is it an optical illusion? What minerals are on Mars that cause it to appear red? Relate your discoveries to things we can relate to on Earth and show pictures.
- What have we learned in the various missions to Mars? What were the most significant discoveries? What questions did each successful mission answer and did a later mission prove these wrong?
Every good science fair project begins with research. Use these resources to learn more about Mars. As you read, you may even come up with new ideas for your project.M