Twenty years after the Viking Mission, Mars is again being scrutinized in the light of a flood of information from spacecraft missions to Mars, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the SNC meteorites. This review provides an overview of the current understanding of Mars, especially in light of the data being returned from the Mars Global Surveyor Mission. Mars does not now have a global magnetic field, but the presence of crustal anomalies indicates that a global field existed early in Martian history. The topography, geodetic figure, and gravitational field are known to high precision. The northern hemisphere is lower and has a thinner and stronger crust than the southern hemisphere.

The global weather and the thermal structure of the atmosphere have been monitored for more than a year. Surface-atmosphere interaction has been investigated by observations of surface features, polar caps, atmospheric dust, and condensate clouds. The surface has been imaged at very high resolution and spectral measures have been obtained to quantify surface characteristics and geologic processes. Many questions remain unanswered, especially about the earliest period of Mars’ history.

Keyword(s): MarsMars Global Surveyor

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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