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Mars Climate, Now and In the Past

This drawing shows a cross-section of the Martian frozen ground.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Martian Cryosphere

Scientists think at present that the water on Mars is frozen into the ground. The ground is less frozen at low latitudes because it is warmer and water can evaporate. Thus, at low latitudes (near the equator) the frozen ground is 6 km deep, while at high latitudes (corresponding to high altitudes) the frozen ground is only 2.5 km deep.

The figure shows a cross-section of the crust, and the unusual altitude variation of the Martian surface. The figure illustrates the depth of frozen ground at various latitudes, called the cryosphere, as well as the depth to which the aquifer, or layer of liquid water, may exist across the planet. To have liquid water running on the surface of Mars, the aquifer, or liquid region, must be exposed to the surface. This may have happened at various times in the history of Mars as the climate changed.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA