Planet Profile

Relative Sizes






Mars: Then and Now

Since antiquity, the ancients have looked to the night sky and gave name to the stars they saw. The stars that seemed to wander through the other stars were simply called planetai meaning wanderers by the Greeks. Of the five known to the Greeks, one such planet was called Pyroeis, fiery red planet. Ares, the god of war in Greek mythology, was given dominion over Pyroeis. Millennia have passed since this designation was given to the fourth planet from the Sun, but in most western cultures we now call it Mars, from the god of war in Roman mythology. Yet in the tradition of Greek mythology, the two satellites that were discovered around Mars (1877 CE) were named Phobos (fear) and Deimos (dread) for either of Aresí sons. The IAU (International Astronomical Union) still uses the designations Mars, Phobos and Deimos today.