Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The Mars rovers have produced a collection of stunning photo-mosaics exotic enough to open a photography show at one of Manhattan’s trendiest galleries.

The dune field above lies at the bottom of Mars’ Endurance Crater, as seen in this false color image from NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity.
Image: NASA/JPL/Cornell

But hard science edged out a purely esoteric appreciation of the Martian landscape this week, as NASA presented its best evidence that liquid water still continually flows on the red planet.

Two Martian gullies out of 10,000 observed by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor were found to exhibit very recent evidence of liquid water.

As viewed in the image above, the gully trickle on the right appeared sometime during the last five years in this crater in Mars’ Centauri Montes region.
Image: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems


Flowing water thought to have run down this steep gully slope likely made its way from deep inside Mars’ interior. Once it breached the surface, Mars’ frigid temperatures initially froze the liquid water into something of an ice dam. Pressure from below eventually broke the dam and caused the release of yet another trickle of liquid water.

There’s already new speculation about how such liquid water might have helped spawn and nurture microbial life. But more immediately, researchers will be seeking answers to just how widespread such underground liquid water might be, and then what mechanisms might persist in causing it to remain in a liquid state.


Rick said...

Good news for those still hoping Mars will provide some form of microbial life.

6:13 AM  

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