Water on Mars, illustration

Water on Mars, illustration

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Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Water on Mars. Illustration comparing present-day Mars (left) with an ancient Mars that had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water. Mars formed around 4.6 billion years ago. The young planet would have had enough water to fill an ocean occupying almost half of the northern hemisphere, reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres. Currently, Mars is a rocky desert world with no surface water. The atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and Martian surface temperatures are well below freezing. Most of the water and atmosphere were lost to space, or locked up underground in deposits of ice.

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