The Solar System

The Inner Solar System

What is some of the geological history of Mars?

Mars was almost certainly much warmer billions of years ago than it is today. Water may have once flowed across the Martian surface the way rivers and streams flow across Earth’s surface today. There were probably alluvial plains, deltas, lakes, and perhaps even seas and oceans, too. The internal heat under the Martian crust probably powered volcanism and massive magma and lava flows. Furthermore, since the gravitational pull at the Martian surface is about one-third that of Earth’s, volcanic cones and other mountains could be built higher than on Earth, and canyons cut deeper because landslides and erosion would not be as strong an influence.

In this image from 2003, the two sides of Mars are shown, with Olympus Mons clearly visible in the right image on t northern portion of the planet. The southern ice cap is also visible. (NASA and Space Telescope Science Institute)


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