Astronomers generally believe that Mars was formed billions of years ago. About 96 percent of the Red Planet’s atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide. NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander began transmitting detailed data about the planet’s atmosphere in 2008, and a recent analysis of the information has revealed that its atmosphere actually looks young.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a compound that can consist of either normal, balanced atoms or heavy atoms. The carbon atoms in CO2, for instance, can have different weights and yet still behave the same way chemically as normal carbon atoms. The differently weighted versions are called isotopes.

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