what is mars made of

What is Mars made of

Unveiling the Mysteries: What is Mars Made Of?

Mars, often referred to as the "red planet," has captured the imagination of scientists and stargazers alike. As our neighboring planet, Mars offers a unique opportunity for exploration and study. In this blog post, we embark on a journey to uncover the mysteries of what Mars is made of. By delving into the elemental composition that shapes its atmosphere, surface, and geological features, we gain a deeper understanding of the enigmatic world that is Mars.

Understanding the Composition of Mars:

  • Thin Atmosphere: Mars has a thin atmosphere compared to Earth, primarily composed of carbon dioxide (CO2) with trace amounts of nitrogen and argon. The thin atmosphere accounts for the planet's characteristic reddish appearance and plays a crucial role in shaping its climate and weather patterns. Understanding the composition of Mars' atmosphere provides insights into the planet's potential habitability and its past geological processes.
  • Rocky Surface: Mars, like Earth, has a rocky surface composed of various minerals and elements. The predominant rock types on Mars include basalt, which is rich in iron and magnesium, and various types of sedimentary rocks formed by the action of water and wind. Mars' surface also contains iron oxide, commonly known as rust, which gives the planet its distinctive reddish color. Analyzing the composition of Martian rocks and minerals provides valuable clues about the planet's geologic history and the potential for ancient water and life.
  • Polar Ice Caps: Mars is known to have ice caps at its poles. These ice caps consist of a combination of water ice, carbon dioxide ice (dry ice), and dust. The polar ice caps undergo seasonal changes, with the ice shrinking during Mars' warmer seasons and expanding during colder seasons. Studying the composition of these ice caps helps scientists understand the planet's water cycle, climate variations, and the potential availability of water resources for future human exploration.

what is mars made of

Unique Characteristics of Mars' Composition:

Volcanic Features:

Mars bears evidence of past volcanic activity, with numerous volcanic features scattered across its surface. Volcanic mountains, lava flows, and volcanic craters suggest a dynamic geologic history. The volcanic rocks on Mars provide insights into the planet's interior composition and the processes that shaped its surface. By studying these volcanic features, scientists can unravel Mars' geological evolution and better understand the planet's potential for harboring signs of past or present life.

Ancient Riverbeds and Dried Lakes:

Mars exhibits geological features indicative of the presence of liquid water in the past. Ancient riverbeds, channels, and dried lake basins suggest that Mars once had flowing water on its surface. The presence of clay minerals and sedimentary rocks further supports the theory that Mars had a more hospitable environment in the distant past. Investigating the composition of these ancient geological formations provides crucial information about Mars' history and the potential for habitable conditions.

Subsurface Composition:

While much of our knowledge about Mars' composition comes from surface observations, studying the planet's subsurface is equally important. Martian meteorites that have landed on Earth provide valuable insights into Mars' deep interior composition. Additionally, missions like NASA's InSight lander use seismic instruments to study Mars' subsurface structure and composition, helping scientists unravel the planet's internal dynamics and composition.

Dust Storms and Dust Composition:

One of the notable phenomena on Mars is its frequent dust storms that can engulf the entire planet. These dust storms, fueled by strong winds, can last for weeks or even months. The composition of Martian dust plays a role in these storms and their impact on the planet's climate. The dust is predominantly made up of fine particles of basaltic rock, iron oxide, and other minerals. Studying the composition of Martian dust helps scientists understand atmospheric dynamics, the redistribution of material, and the potential influence on Mars' climate and habitability.

Perchlorates and Potential for Life:

Recent discoveries of perchlorate compounds in Martian soil have sparked interest in the planet's potential for supporting microbial life. Perchlorates are powerful oxidizing agents that can affect the stability of organic compounds and potentially serve as an energy source for certain microorganisms. The presence of perchlorates in Mars' composition raises intriguing questions about the possibility of past or present life on the planet. Future missions and further analysis of Martian samples will provide valuable insights into the potential habitability and the role of perchlorates in Mars' composition.

Mars' Interior Structure:

While our knowledge of Mars' interior is limited, scientists have made significant progress in understanding its structure. It is believed that Mars has a core composed primarily of iron and nickel, similar to Earth's core. Surrounding the core is a rocky mantle, and above that is the crust. The composition and state of Mars' interior play a crucial role in its geological activity, magnetic field generation, and volcanic processes. Ongoing missions and future exploration efforts will continue to enhance our understanding of Mars' interior composition.

The Search for Organic Compounds:

One of the key objectives in the study of Mars' composition is the search for organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life as we know it. Organic molecules, such as hydrocarbons, amino acids, and complex carbon-based compounds, could provide evidence of past or present life on Mars. Mars rovers and landers have detected traces of organic compounds in Martian soil, albeit in low concentrations. Analyzing these organic compounds and their distribution across the planet provides valuable insights into the potential habitability and the history of life on Mars.


The composition of Mars, with its thin atmosphere, rocky surface, and intriguing geological features, offers a fascinating field of study.

By understanding the elements that comprise Mars and their distribution across the planet, scientists gain valuable insights into its formation, geologic history, and potential for sustaining life. Mars' thin atmosphere, rocky surface, volcanic features, polar ice caps, and evidence of past water flow all contribute to our understanding of this enigmatic world.

As we continue to explore Mars through robotic missions and analyze Martian meteorites on Earth, we unlock new discoveries about its composition. Future missions, such as NASA's Mars Sample Return mission, aim to bring back samples from Mars' surface, providing unprecedented opportunities to study its composition in greater detail.

Studying the composition of Mars not only enhances our knowledge of the red planet itself but also provides valuable comparisons to Earth and other celestial bodies. Mars serves as a natural laboratory for understanding planetary evolution, climate dynamics, and the potential for life beyond Earth.

In conclusion, Mars' composition, with its thin atmosphere, rocky surface, and evidence of past water, offers a captivating glimpse into the mysteries of this neighboring planet. By unraveling the secrets of what Mars is made of, scientists inch closer to understanding the planet's history, habitability potential, and its place in the larger story of our solar system. Through ongoing exploration and research, Mars continues to reveal its secrets, enriching our understanding of the universe and our place within it.

Read more about Mars:

Read more about Planets:

Back to blog