As the fourth planet out from the Sun, Mars definitely has some way to go to make it a full orbit around the center of our universe. Though the truth is that although it does travel a long distance when in orbit, it’s actually relatively short when compared with the further out gas giants, and much shorter if you compare it to the icy planets Neptune and Uranus. But just how far does Mars have to travel when it’s orbiting the Sun, and how long will that take? That’s what we’re going to be taking a quick look at.
How long does it take Mars to revolve around the Sun?
It takes Mars 687 days for it to make one full orbit around the center of our solar system, the Sun. This means that a full year on Mars is almost twice as long as a full year on the planet Earth.
However, if we go out to the next furthest planet from the Sun, Jupiter, we can see that this is still a relatively short orbital period. It takes Jupiter more than 4,300 days for it to complete a full lap of the Sun, which is drastically more than the almost 700 days it takes for Mars to travel that distance.
This is just one of many fascinating facts about Mars. Now, the distance from the Sun is a major factor in why it takes Mars much longer than the Earth to orbit the Sun. But actually, it’s only 1.5 AU away from the Sun on average. An AU is an Astronomical Unit, which is the distance between us and the Sun – approximately 93 million miles. So, Mars is only an extra 50% on average in distance from the Sun than we are.
However as well as this, we also have to take into account the speed that Mars travels around the Sun too. Whilst Earth whizzes around the Sun at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour, Mars is a little bit slower than this, with a speed of around 54,000 miles per hour.
This is because of the strong gravitational pull of the Sun, which makes the objects closer to it go faster through their orbital period, as they’re effectively being drawn towards it. If we combine the extra distance that Mars has to travel when orbiting the Sun with its slower pace, then it’s clear to see why it takes almost double the time the Earth does.
Mars: Orbital patterns
Although Mars has nowhere near the eccentricity as other planets like Mercury, it doesn’t travel around the Sun in a typical circle fashion. It still travels in a slight oval pattern, and in fact it’s a little bit more oval than the pattern the Earth travels in.
At one point in time though, with astronomers estimating that the planet had an almost perfect circular orbit of the Sun more than a million years ago. However, over time this has become warped, and this is primarily down to its proximity from other planets like Jupiter, which has an impact on the way Mars travels due to its large size.
It’s also worth mentioning that Mars has a very similar day length to us on planet Earth, which is one of many reasons why it’s touted as the next place for humans to travel when Earth is no longer habitable. It takes Mars 24 hours and 37 minutes for it to complete one full rotation on its axis.
However, the Martian weather is a little more severe than we experience on Earth, though it’s more similar than any other planet. On the upside the weather there is very predictable, which means that we could prepare for the harsher winds and colder nights there. However, on the downside there’s no oceans on the surface of Mars, which is a definite problem if we were to ever habit the planet.
In conclusion, there’s more than one reason why Mars looks like it’s going to be the next destination for humans to explore, but its long year length shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for us if we were ever to emigrate. However, it would take a while to get used to it, as the years are almost twice the length of what we experience on Earth.