KEES VEENENBOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY KEES VEENENBOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Water on Mars. Computer artwork looking east over Olympus Mons (large shadow, upper left) at dawn on Mars 3.5 billion years ago. Water (centre right) shines in the sunlight. Mars is now a desert world, but erosion features seen on Mars today suggest that water once flowed there. The water was lost due to the thin Martian atmosphere and weak gravity. Olympus Mons volcano is the largest mountain in the solar system. It is 24 kilometres high and over 600 kilometres wide. The background shadows (left to right) are Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons and Arsia Mons. This topography was drawn with Terragen software, using data from the laser altimeter on the Mars Global Surveyor probe.
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