Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. The planet is one of Earth’s “next-door neighbors” in space. Earth is the third planet from the sun, and Jupiter is the fifth. Like Earth, Jupiter, the sun, and the remainder of the solar system, Mars is about 4.6 billion years old.
Mars is named for the ancient Roman god of war. The Romans copied the Greeks in naming the planet for a war god; the Greeks called the planet Ares (AIR eez). The Romans and Greeks associated the planet with war because its color resembles the color of blood. Viewed from Earth, Mars is a bright reddish-orange. It owes its color to iron-rich minerals in its soil. This color is also similar to the color of rust, which is composed of iron and oxygen.
The planet Mars, like Earth, has clouds in its atmosphere and a deposit of ice at its north pole. But unlike Earth, Mars has no liquid water on its surface. The rustlike color of Mars comes from the large amount of iron in the planet’s soil.