After Earth, Mars is the planet with the most hospitable climate in the solar system. So hospitable
that it may once have harbored primitive, bacteria-like life. Outflow channels and other geologic
features provide ample evidence that billions of years ago liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars. Although liquid water may still exist deep below the surface of Mars, currently the temperature is too low and the atmosphere too thin for liquid water to exist at the surface.
What caused the change in Mars' climate? Were the conditions necessary for life to originate
ever present on Mars? Could there be bacteria in the subsurface alive today? These are the
questions that lead us to explore Mars. The climate of Mars has obviously cooled dramatically.
By studying the reasons for climate change on Mars, which lacks the complications of oceans,
a biosphere, and industrial contaminants, we may begin to understand the forces driving
climate change on Earth. As we begin to explore the universe and search for planets in other
solar systems, we must first ask the question 'Did life occur on another planet in our own
solar system?' and 'What are the minimal conditions necessary for the formation of life?'
Deep Space 2 will provide an opportunity to collect data which may help answer some of
these questions. The probes will collect data to determine the atmospheric density profile,
the hardness and thermal conductivity of the soil, and if water ice is present below the
Other Mars Websites
- Mars Information on the Internet
This is the official NASA page for linking to a wide variety of Mars sites, including the Mars Global Surveyor, Pathfinder, and other home pages, plus key sites for the ALH84001 story, pictures, background and educational resources about Mars.
- Life on Mars?
The official NASA page for the life on Mars story.
- The McCleese Report
Contains the text of the September 26; 1996 "Mars Expeditions Strategy Report," chaired by JPL's Dan McCleese.
- Mission Mars Special Section: CNN Interactive
The Cable News Network (CNN) maintains a special Mars page with some of the latest news stories, a "Mars Quiz," and links to Mars fiction and music. Keep an eye on this site-how long will Mars remain newsworthy?
- Live from Mars
As this year's Mars missions unfold, NASA and the National Science Foundation are collaborating with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and The Passport to Knowledge Project to bring the excitement to kids live via television and the Internet. In "Live from Mars," the Passport to Knowledge series of electronic field trips to scientific frontiers has developed a vigorous, inexpensive educational project aimed at students.