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Billions of years ago, Mars harbored water on its surface, and water circulated in its atmosphere. And where we find water, we can hope to find life.

About the Video Clip

Duration: 3 minutes
Grade Level: Best for grades 5+

Billions of years ago, Mars harbored water on its surface, and water circulated in its atmosphere. Under the martian surface, water likely flowed from the southern highlands to the low-lying northern hemisphere. And where we find water, we can hope to find life.

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Guiding Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Where, and in what forms, did water exist on Mars billions of years ago?
  • Today, what observations make Mars a promising place to find life outside our home world?
  • How would you define "nanoclimate" in your own words?
  • What would be the advantage of a mission which deployed multiple probes to discrete landing sites?
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The Red Planet and Astrobiology

The planet mars.

The Mars Exploration Program studies Mars as a planetary system in order to understand the formation and early evolution of Mars as a planet, the history of geological processes that have shaped Mars through time, the potential for Mars to have hosted life, and the future exploration of Mars by humans.

Astrobiology is a relatively new field of study, where scientists from a variety of disciplines (astronomy, biology, geology, physics, etc.) work together to understand the potential for life to exist beyond Earth. However, the exploration of Mars has been intertwined with NASA’s search for life from the beginning.

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Explore with the Perseverance Rover

Perseverance Rover produced by NASA/JPL-CalTech

The most recent of NASA's many missions to Mars, landing on the red planet in February 2021, the Perseverance Rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth.

Learn all about the state-of-the-art scientific instruments on the spacecraft, explore the landing site in this interactive, or discover the strategy for the rover's surface operations. What exactly is Perseverance looking for, sampling, and recording?

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Recommended Reading

Snowstorms on Mars
Scientists say that snowstorms could clear up how water was—and is—transported on Mars, both in the present and in the distant past.

NASA's Mars Exploration Program
Read a short summary of the space program's strategy to seek signs of life on the red planet.

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Award laurels graphic for Best of Earth 2021 award for Living Worlds
We thank our donors

This production is funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF10870 to the Academy.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation