Is There Life on Mars? (02:39)
If we find life on Mars, it will most likely be in the form of microbes and bacteria that have adapted to survive on a planet with 1% of Earth’s atmospheric pressure and temperatures that can plunge to 220 degrees below zero.
How Life Could Have Formed? (02:00)
Earth-based microwave detectors sensed lighting on Mars in the spring of 2006. Scientists speculate whether this could have provided the spark necessary to start life on the planet.
Water on Mars? (04:17)
NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor searches for water-based minerals from 1997 to 2006. It detects hematite, a combination of iron and oxygen, that suggests Mars once had flowing water.
Martian Probes (03:12)
Five probes take pictures and measurements of Mars following the Global Surveyor mission including, Europe’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Two robot rovers search for evidence of ancient water; the Phoenix Lande joins the search in 2008.
Liquid Water on Mars? (03:45)
The Phoenix Lander finds frozen water beneath Mars' surface and snow falling from the atmosphere. NASA scientists speculate that liquid water may have formed on the probe’s leg. Spirit and Opportunity search for evidence of minerals and land forms shaped by ancient water.
Signs of Thermal Activity? (01:54)
One of Spirit’s wheels becomes stuck in early 2008, gouging Mars' surface and revealing silica—a compound found in hydrothermal environments on Earth. Mars may have underground, thermal activity.
Perchlorates on Mars (03:12)
NASA’s Phoenix team learns that 2% of the soil around the lander is composed of perchlorates. The finding makes scientists reevaluate findings of the 1976 Viking lander.
Mars Spacecraft and Discoveries (05:34)
Red dust coats the solar panels of the Phoenix Lander, causing the probe to shut down for good on Nov. 2, 2008. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finds evidence of ancient lake shores the following year. Scientists believe Mars once had an atmosphere similar to Earth's and that water once covered a third of the planet’s surface.
Signs of Flowing Water? (02:01)
Satellite photos from 2009 seem to reveal flowing water on the surface of Mars. Scientists speculate that ice may thaw during certain events, causing water to gush from below the planet’s surface. Others theorize that what appears to be water is actually circulating dust.
Viral Image and Magnetic Field (04:12)
A photo taken by Spirit goes viral after it appears to reveal a humanoid shape; the figure is an optical illusion. Scientists speculate on how Mars lost its magnetic field.
Martian Meteorite (03:40)
Researchers use new radiometric tools to more accurately estimate the age of Martian meteorite ALH84001; it is estimated to be about 4.1 billion-years-old. It contains magnetite, a mineral that ocean-dwelling bacteria produce on Earth.
Methane Gas Discovery (07:17)
Spectrographic observations of Mars detect plumes of the gas from a few hot spots during Martian the summer. Could these plumes be generated by underground colonies of bacteria? The Mars Science Laboratory may provide answers. (Credits)
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