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MAVEN | Mars Evolution

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Published on Nov 13, 2013

Billions of years ago when the Red Planet was young, it appears to have had a thick atmosphere that was warm enough to support oceans of liquid water—a critical ingredient for life.

This animation shows how the surface of Mars might have appeared during this ancient clement period, beginning with a flyover of a Martian lake. The artist's concept is based on evidence that Mars was once very different. Rapidly moving clouds suggest the passage of time, and the shift from a warm and wet to a cold and dry climate is shown as the animation progresses. The lakes dry up, while the atmosphere gradually transitions from Earthlike blue skies to the dusty pink and tan hues seen on Mars today.

The MAVEN spacecraft surveys the barren landscape from high above in the Red Planet's upper atmosphere to determine the role that escape to space may have played in the evolution of the Martian climate over these billions of years. MAVEN will be the first mission devoted to understanding this piece of Mars' climate mystery.

Where did the once abundant water go?

(Video credit: NASA/GSFC)

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