Mars Drops Hints of an Active Past Involving Water

Mars Lander Team Applies for Mission Extension
An artist's conception of Phoenix, poised to dig into the Martian soil using its robotic arm. (Image credit: SETI)

By tasting a little bit of the

Phoenix was the most recent spacecraft to land on Mars and

From that data mine, researchers discovered that the carbon

"We think of Mars as cold and

When combined with studies of 4-billion-year-old Martian

Unexpected activity

Niles warned that it is hard to judge from the data how much

"That could be the result of a lot of groundwater

The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars is mostly derived

"All these results suggest that Mars is more active

Isotopes tell watery tale

Niles and his colleagues used Phoenix's observations of

Isotopes are versions of a chemical element that have

Phoenix gathered carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then

The research is detailed in the

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Charles Q. Choi
Contributing Writer

Charles Q. Choi is a contributing writer for and Live Science. He covers all things human origins and astronomy as well as physics, animals and general science topics. Charles has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. Charles has visited every continent on Earth, drinking rancid yak butter tea in Lhasa, snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos and even climbing an iceberg in Antarctica. Visit him at