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This is an image of Mars.
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NASA/JPL

The Climate of Mars

Unlike that of the Earth, the Martian climate is significantly influenced by the eccentricity of the Martian orbit. In spite of the significant influence the orbit plays on Martian climate over the years however, the primary factor determining the climate of Mars, has been the presence of water near the surface, or lack thereof.

On a cold planet, frozen water can be trapped within the ground, like the frozen tundra of the Earth. This ground water can be released in periodic episodes when Mars undergoes changes in climate.

This phenomena may explain the evidence for running water seen on the surface of Mars. In all likelihood, over the history of Mars, water has been continuously drawn from higher underground latitudes to lower underground latitudes. This phenomena has to do with the unusual global geography of Mars, which helps scientists piece together the nature of the Martian cryosphere, or topography of frozen ground.

Last modified April 27, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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