Over the past 30 years, the water-generated landforms and landscapes of Mars have been revealed in increasing detail by a succession of spacecraft missions. Recent data from the Mars Global Surveyor mission confirm the view that brief episodes of water-related activity, including glaciation, punctuated the geological history of Mars. The most recent of these episodes seems to have occurred within the past 10 million years. These new results are anomalous in regard to the prevailing view that the martian surface has been continuously extremely cold and dry, much as it is today, for the past 3.9 billion years. Interpretations of the new data are controversial, but explaining the anomalies in a consistent manner leads to potentially fruitful hypotheses for understanding the evolution of Mars in relation to Earth.
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