What we know about Mars: read all about it on the ESA science web site
1 November 2000It's fewer than 40 years since the first spacecraft to visit Mars, the Mariners, finally demonstrated that there are no canals or thick vegetation on the planet. Since then, our knowledge about Mars has grown dramatically with every subsequent visit by a successful space mission.
Over the next decade or so, we can expect new discoveries at an unprecedented rate as more space vehicles than ever before set off for the red planet under the auspices of an international programme of exploration. Key amongst them will be Mars Express and its lander, Beagle 2, the European Space Agency's contribution to the exploration effort.
The first series of articles outlining what previous and current spacecraft have revealed about Mars is now available on the ESA science web site. Based around interviews with the European and US scientists involved, the articles also discuss the outstanding questions that Mars Express and other future missions will aim to answer.
The articles begin with a comparison between the Earth and Mars, what we know about the Martian interior and crust, and the forces that have driven Martian evolution. They also discuss the latest findings about water on Mars. Over the coming weeks, they will be expanded to include other topics, in particular the Martian atmosphere, Martian meteorites and the holy grail of Martian exploration - the prospects for finding evidence of past or present life.