The inhospitable atmosphere of Mars has been around a long time -- about 4 billion years or so, according to data collected by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, along with studies of Martian meteorites. Scientists think that the Red Planet lost its atmosphere fairly soon after its formation. "A lot of the atmosphere of Mars might have been lost pretty rapidly," noted Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, lead author of one of two studies published in the journal Science.

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