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The Question

(Submitted November 10, 1997)

Is there any water on Mars?

The Answer

There is water on Mars. More specifically, there is ice in and on the ground (especially at the polar caps) and water vapor in the atmosphere. There may be liquid water underground, but liquid water on the surface is probably very rare and only temporary, requiring weather conditions (temperatures above freezing, high humidity, and high barometric atmospheric pressure) which never occur in most places on Mars, and occur only rarely in others.

It was not always so. In earlier times, the air pressure on Mars was higher, and you can still see the river beds and other features that water carved out.

More information about Mars is at http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/mars.html
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level2/mars.html
http://www.seds.org/billa/tnp/mars.html

David Palmer
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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