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Mars

First Mars was the setting of imaginary declining civilizations; then it was a dead, cratered, Moon-like world. Thanks to a coordinated Mars exploration program that began in 1996 and continues to the present day, we now know Mars better than any world other than our own, yet we have more questions than ever.

Geologically, Mars is quiescent, but its atmosphere breathes and changes from year to year, interacting in complex ways with the water sequestered in Mars' ice caps and permafrost. Water does not, today, flow on Mars, but it evidently has in the past, and it may flow again in the future when Mars' rotation axis tilts much more steeply. Did Mars ever look like Earth, or has it always been as cold and dry as an Antarctic desert? Has there ever been the right combination of liquid water, available energy, and time to permit life to begin on Mars?

Latest Blogs from Mars

An unusual Hubble photo of Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/17 05:20 CDT

Amateur image magician Ted Stryk dug up this lovely view of Mars, captured on May 9, 2003 by the Hubble Space Telescope. This photo is unusual for its relatively high phase.

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MAVEN returns first images of Mars' atmosphere

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/24 01:24 CDT | 1 comment

On Sepember 22 at 02:24 UTC, Earth received word that MAVEN had ended its orbit insertion burn on time, completing its journey to Mars. Today MAVEN has released some of its very first data, taken by the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph just eight hours after arrival.

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More Mars

Mars' Calendar

Mars' axial tilt is similar to Earth's, and its days (or sols) are similar in length, so it has similar seasons. But its elliptical orbit makes seasons more extreme in the southern hemisphere. This page lists dates for seasonal changes and turnover of Mars Years.

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Missions to Mars

The missions, both successful and failed, that have flown by, orbited, or landed on the Red Planet and its moons

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