1

Look at this sentence from a Toefl reading exam:

Other researchers go even further, suggesting that the data provide evidence for large open expanses of water on the early Martian surface.

Here the adjective "early" comes before a noun. Isn't "early" an adjective for showing time and stating that an event is happening near the beginning of a particular period? What's the meaning of "early surface"?

2

A dictionary definition of 'early':

belonging or happening near the beginning of a particular period.

The "early martian surface" means the surface of the planet in its early period, perhaps at what is believed to be the beginning of its existence.

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