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Press Release 11-104

Mars: Red Planet's Rapid Formation Explains Its Small Size Relative to Earth

Mars developed far more quickly than our blue planet

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Image of Mars in the foreground with Earth in the background.

Mars is a a planetary embryo that never collided with other embryos to form an Earthlike planet.

Credit: Christopher Leather, University of Chicago


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Image of Mars.

Mars likely developed in two to four million years; Earth's growth was over 50 to 100 million years.

Credit: Christopher Leather/University of Chicago


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Image of surface of Mars.

Mars' age was determined by using the radioactive decay of hafnium to tungsten in meteorites.

Credit: Christopher Leather/University of Chicago


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Image of Mars.

Mars is some 4,221 miles in diameter; Earth's diameter is 7,926 miles, about twice that of Mars.

Credit: NASA


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Images of the inner planets of our solar system, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

The relative size of the inner planets of our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute


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