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This image shows the Earth and Mars
NASA

An Overview of the History of Mars

This is probably what happened to Mars:

  • an early warm period
  • the inside of Mars cools off very fast
  • volcanoes appeared, and the Tharsis Bulge is created
  • changes in climate every once and awhile, which affect the way in which the frozen water of Mars comes to the surface.
The changes in climate may persist to the present day, but the rest of the history of Mars was finished 3.5 Billion Years ago.

The reason that the history of Mars is this way has to do with the fact that Mars is small, and the fact that Mars is farther from the sun that either the Earth or Venus. Some scientists call this the "Goldilocks" phenomenon.

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Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

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The Earliest History of Mars

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The Cooling of Mars

Mars is small. Mars is about 1/3 the size of the Earth. This means that it cooled off very fast. Mars probably started colder than the other earth-like planets. Then, Mars cooled rapidly from the outside,...more

Exciting News from the Red Planet!

The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was launched on November 7, 1996. It has been in orbit around Mars for over 1500 days. It may have made its greatest observation this month! Pictures taken by the camera...more

Martian Water

There seems to be no running water on the surface of Mars today even though there is evidence for running water, including river channels such as those shown here, and there are frozen, icy polar caps....more

The Tharsis Ridge

This image, taken from the Mars Global Surveyor mission (MGS), shows the Tharsis Ridge, the green/blue area in the middle of the picture, as well as a portion of the southern hemisphere of Mars. The green...more

Steep slopes of Valles Marineris

High resolution images returned by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft allow closer examination of this unusual canyon. As shown here, slopes seem to descend steeply to the north and south in broad, debris-filled...more

Gullies of Valles Marineris

This view of Valles Marineris shows debris-filled gullies with intervening rocky spurs, reminiscent of terrestrial canyons. Layered rocks on Earth form from sedimentary processes (such as those that formed...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF