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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

Happy Christmas on Mars!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/24 10:42 CST

This was so cute I had to repost it -- and record it too.

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Light plays on a Martian crater rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/16 01:30 CST

Recently, space image processing enthusiast Thomas Appéré noticed that Curiosity had taken five photos of exactly the same spot on the rim of Gale crater, identical but for being taken at different times of day. That spot was due north of the rover, so the rising and lowering Sun illuminates the rounded hummocks of the crater rim differently from early morning to early afternoon.

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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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