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
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2014/11/04 10:02 CST
As winds whirled and converged to the west of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity's power dropped dramatically in October, but the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) pressed on. By month's end, the robot field geologist had completed her assignments – including capturing the first close-in shot of a comet from the surface of the Red Planet – and was roving onward through the darkness, driving the mission into the 130th month of what started out more than 10-and-a-half years ago to be a 3-month tour.
It's been two weeks since comet Siding Spring passed close by Mars, and six of the seven Mars spacecraft have now checked in with quick looks at their images of the encounter. I round up all the results.
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