Ancient Mars, artwork

Ancient Mars, artwork

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Credit: DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Ancient Mars. Computer artwork of ancient Mars. The surface environment of ancient Mars was different to that of today, and may have allowed life forms to develop. Ancient Mars was warm with a thicker atmosphere. Seas and lakes covered much of its northern surface while the southern hemisphere consisted of a vast continental landmass. Around 4 billion years ago, Mars began to cool and lose its atmosphere, and water started to evaporate off into space. Today, water is present on Mars only as ice on the surface in the polar regions, underground or as trace amounts of vapour or ice crystals in the atmosphere.

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