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Posts Tagged ‘life on mars’

Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed On Mars


May 30, 2013 — Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers’ initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: They are part of an ancient streambed.

 

NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence for an ancient, flowing stream on Mars at a few sites, including the rock outcrop pictured here, which the science team has named “Hottah” after Hottah Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It may look like a broken sidewalk, but this geological feature on Mars is actually exposed bedrock made up of smaller fragments cemented together, or what geologists call a sedimentary conglomerate. Scientists theorize that the bedrock was disrupted in the past, giving it the titled angle, most likely via impacts from meteorites. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The rocks are the first ever found on Mars that contain streambed gravels. The sizes and shapes of the gravels embedded in these conglomerate rocks — from the size of sand particles to the size of golf balls — enabled researchers to calculate the depth and speed of the water that once flowed at this location.

“We completed more rigorous quantification of the outcrops to characterize the size distribution and roundness of the pebbles and sand that make up these conglomerates,” said Rebecca Williams of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Ariz., lead author of a report about them in the journal Science this week. “We ended up with a calculation in the same range as our initial estimate last fall. At a minimum, the stream was flowing at a speed equivalent to a walking pace — a meter, or three feet, per second — and it was ankle-deep to hip-deep.”

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530150547.htm

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Mars Orbiter Reveals Evidence Of Underground Lakes – And Possibly Life

January 22, 2013 Leave a comment

A new photograph of Mars suggests that huge lakes of liquid water might lie underneath the Red Planet’s surface.

The find has raised hopes that life may have once existed on the planet – and might even still be there.

Nasa said that the image “adds to an increasingly complex picture” of our nearest neighbouring planet.

Researchers analysed data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft as it looked down on the floor of the McLaughlin Crater, which is 57 miles in diameter and over 1.4 miles deep.

The picture showed that the crater was once deep enough to let underground water flow into its interior.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/21/mars-orbiter-reveals-lakes_n_2518459.html?icid=maing-grid7|uk-bb|dl11|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D147443

Antarctic Lake Vida Provides Clue To Alien Life

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

By Posted: 27/11/2012

The discovery of bacteria which thrives in a salty, ice-sealed Antarctic lake has strengthened the possibility of alien life on planets such as Mars.

Lake Vida, which is located in the region’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, contains no oxygen, is mostly frozen and possesses the highest nitrous oxide levels of any natural water body on Earth.

A briny liquid that is approximately six times saltier than seawater percolates throughout the icy environment that has an average temperature of minus 13.5 degrees centigrade (8 degrees Fahrenheit).

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The discovery of bacteria in an Antarctic lake strengthens the possibility of alien life on other planets (file picture)

 Dr Peter Doran, of the University of Illinois in Chicago, told New Scientist: “Lake Vida is a model of what happens when you try to freeze a lake solid, and this is the same fate that any lakes on Mars would have gone through as the planet turned colder from a watery past.

“Any Martian water bodies that did form would have gone through this Vida stage before freezing solid, entombing the evidence of the past ecosystem.”

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal (PNAS), and were co-authored by Dr Alison Murray and Dr Christian Fritsen, of Nevada’s Desert Research Institute (DRI).

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/11/27/antarctic-lake-vida-alien-_n_2198485.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

Curiosity Rover’s Secret Historic Breakthrough? Speculation Centers on Organic Molecules

November 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Much of the internet is buzzing over upcoming “big news” from NASA’s Curiosity rover, but the space agency’s scientists are keeping quiet about the details.

The report comes by way of the rover’s principal investigator, geologist John Grotzinger of Caltech, who said that Curiosity has uncovered exciting new results from a sample of Martian soil recently scooped up and placed in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

“This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” Grotzinger told NPR in an segment published Nov. 20. Curiosity’s SAM instrument contains a vast array of tools that can vaporize soil and rocks to analyze them and measure the abundances of certain light elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – chemicals typically associated with life.

The mystery will be revealed shortly, though. Grotzinger told Wired through e-mail that NASA would hold a press conference about the results during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from Dec. 3 to 7. Because it’s so potentially earth-shaking, Grotzinger said the team remains cautious and is checking and double-checking their results. But while NASA is refusing to discuss the findings with anyone outside the team, especially reporters, other scientists are free to speculate.

Read more:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/curiosity-historic-news-organics/

 

Mars Rock Touched by NASA Curiosity Has Surprises

October 12, 2012 1 comment

ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2012) — The first Martian rock NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached out to touch presents a more varied composition than expected from previous missions. The rock also resembles some unusual rocks from Earth’s interior.

Target: Jake Matijevic Rock. This image shows where NASA’s Curiosity rover aimed two different instruments to study a rock known as “Jake Matijevic.” (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The rover team used two instruments on Curiosity to study the chemical makeup of the football-size rock called “Jake Matijevic” (matt-EE-oh-vick). The results support some surprising recent measurements and provide an example of why identifying rocks’ composition is such a major emphasis of the mission. Rock compositions tell stories about unseen environments and planetary processes.

“This rock is a close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces on Earth,” said Edward Stolper of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who is a Curiosity co-investigator. “With only one Martian rock of this type, it is difficult to know whether the same processes were involved, but it is a reasonable place to start thinking about its origin.”

Mars rover Curiosity scoops, detects bright object


This image from the right Mast Camera (Mastcam) of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows a scoop full of sand and dust lifted by the rover’s first use of the scoop on its robotic arm. In the foreground, near the bottom of the image, a bright object is visible on the ground. The object might be a piece of rover hardware. This image was taken during the mission’s 61st Martian day, or sol (Oct. 7, 2012), the same sol as the first scooping. After examining Sol 61 imaging, the rover team decided to refrain from using the arm on Sol 62 (Oct. 8). Instead, the rover was instructed to acquire additional imaging of the bright object, on Sol 62, to aid the team in assessing possible impact, if any, to sampling activities. For scale, the scoop is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide, 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) long. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSRead more: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-mars-rover-curiosity-scoops-bright.html

Mars rover Curiosity finds evidence of ancient fast-moving streams on surface of red planet

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The Nasa rover Curiosity has beamed pictures back from the red planet that appear to show the remnants of an ancient stream which once ‘ran vigorously’ on the surface of Mars.

The discovery of bedrock and pebbles, which appear to indicate there was once fast moving water on the planet, was described by the mission’s chief scientist as ‘exciting’.

Pebbles, that appear to have been rounded off by water, have offered the most convincing evidence yet that there was water on the surface of Mars.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/mars-rover-curiosity-finds-evidence-of-ancient-fastmoving-streams-on-surface-of-red-planet-8189797.html