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Could There Be Life In Them Thar Pits? Want to stay on top of all the space news?

Could There Be Life In Them Thar Pits?

Follow @universetoday on Twitter Computer-generated perspective of the Tractus Catena pit chains. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Is This Proof of Life on Mars? Want to stay on top of all the space news?

Is This Proof of Life on Mars?

Follow @universetoday on Twitter View of Mars from Viking 2 lander, September 1976. (NASA/JPL-Caltech) The Curiosity rover is currently on its way to Mars, scheduled to make a dramatic landing within Gale Crater in mid-August and begin its hunt for the geologic signatures of a watery, life-friendly past. Ice Sculptures Fill The Deepest Parts of Mars. Want to stay on top of all the space news?

Ice Sculptures Fill The Deepest Parts of Mars

Follow @universetoday on Twitter Curious "lava lamp" landforms in Mars' Hellas Basin may have been created by ice. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona One of the “weirdest and least understood” areas of Mars, the enormous Hellas Impact Basin contains strange flowing landforms that bespeak of some specialized and large-scale geologic process having taken place. The HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently captured the image above, showing what’s being called “lava lamp terrain” — stretched and contorted surface that looks like overworked modeling clay or pulled taffy… or, with a bit of imagination, the melted, mesmerizing contents of a party light from another era.

At 1,400 miles (2,300 km) across, Mars’ Hellas Basin is one of the largest impact craters in the entire Solar System. Although the texture at first appears as if it could be volcanic in origin, it’s thought that flowing water or ice may actually be the source. Mysteriously dark Mars regions are made of glass - space - 15 April 2012. THEY look dark, but mysterious expanses on Mars are mainly made of glass forged in past volcanoes.

Mysteriously dark Mars regions are made of glass - space - 15 April 2012

The dark regions make up more than 10 million square kilometres of the Martian northern lowlands, but their composition wasn't clear. Past spectral measurements indicated that they are unlike dark regions found elsewhere on the Red Planet, which consist mainly of basalt. Briony Horgan and Jim Bell of Arizona State University in Tempe analysed near-infrared spectra of the regions, gathered by the Mars Express orbiter. They found absorption bands characteristic of the iron in volcanic glass, a shiny substance similar to obsidian that forms when magma cools too fast for its minerals to crystallise (Geology, DOI: 10.1130/G32755.1). The glass likely takes the form of sand-sized grains, as it does in glass-rich fields in Iceland. On Earth, such rinds coat volcanic glass weathered by water.

More From New Scientist Sleepwalking woman had sex with strangers (New Scientist) More from the web. Mars' History Is A Fluid Situation. Did Ancient Mars Have a Runaway Greenhouse? Cosmic impacts that once bombed Mars might have sent temperatures skyrocketing upward on the Red Planet in ancient times, enough to set warming of the surface on a runaway course, researchers say.

Did Ancient Mars Have a Runaway Greenhouse?

According to scientists, these findings could potentially help explain how this cold, dry world might have once sustained liquid water, conditions potentially friendly for life. The largest craters still visible on Mars were created about 3.7 billion to 4.1 billion years ago. For instance, the Argyre basin is thought to be 3.8 billion to 3.9 billion years old, a crater about 710 miles (1,140 kilometers) wide potentially generated by a comet or asteroid 60 to 120 miles (100 to 200 kilometers) in diameter. The origin of these immense craters roughly coincides with when many branching Martian river valley networks apparently formed. Now these researchers find this heating might not have been fleeting. The idea of runaway warming is most commonly associated with Venus. More Evidence of Mars’ Watery Past. Want to stay on top of all the space news?

More Evidence of Mars’ Watery Past

Follow @universetoday on Twitter The transition between Acidalia Planitia and Tempe Terra from the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). Credit ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum) ESA’s Mars Express orbiter has sent back images revealing terrain that seems to have been sculpted by flowing water, lending further support to the hypothesis that Mars had liquid water on its surface at some point. The region seen above in a HRSC image is along the border of the Acidalia Planitia region, a vast, dark swath of Mars’ northern hemisphere so large that it’s visible from Earth. In 1877 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli named the region after a mythical fountain, where the three Graces of Greek mythology were said to have bathed. In the HRSC image some of the etched valleys extend outwards from craters, implying that they were created by water emptying out from within the craters. Acidalia Planitia in a broader context.

About Jason Major. Did Water or Lava Carve the Outflow Channels on Mars? Want to stay on top of all the space news?

Did Water or Lava Carve the Outflow Channels on Mars?

Follow @universetoday on Twitter Outflow channel in the Tharsis region on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona Large features on Mars called outflow channels have been a point of contention among planetary scientists. “Most Mars scientists accept that outflow channels were carved by water, but alternate hypotheses persist, especially that lava carved the outflow channels,” said Alfred McEwen Principal Investigator of the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“This sequence of events provides a better explanation,” McEwen said. While these features are too large to have been caused by flooding from rainfall, other explanations have been offered. However, other explanations don’t involve water at all, but suggest flowing lava created these channels. “He makes some good points,” McEwen said, “and argues for a form of Occam’s Razor.

McEwen said the abundant evidence of water carving the channels is too hard to dismiss. Dreams of water on Mars evaporate. NASA/JPL-Caltech Sea change: previous ideas that lowlands on Mars (blue) once hosted oceans are being overturned. The debate began when nineteenth-century Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli thought he saw water-filled canali, or channels, on the red planet: just how wet was Mars? “This is a pendulum that has been swinging back and forth,” says Jeff Andrews-Hanna, a planetary scientist at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. The canali were an illusion, and no one doubts that Mars today is dry except for possible meagre seeps of groundwater. Salty Soil on Mars Could Be Slurping Water from the Atmosphere. Want to stay on top of all the space news?

Salty Soil on Mars Could Be Slurping Water from the Atmosphere

Follow @universetoday on Twitter This image provided by NASA shows a scraped area on Mars known as "Snow White," photographed on July 8, 2008. Two samples from Snow White were delivered to the Phoenix Mars Lander's wet-chemistry lab, and tests turned up evidence of perchlorate. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona It happens every summer in humid air: the salt in your salt shaker clumps together as the salt draws in the water from the air. “If you have sodium chloride, or table salt, you may need a day with 75 percent humidity to make it work,” he added.

The soils in Antarctica have salt from sea spray and from ancient fjords that flooded the region. Though Mars, in general, has lower humidity than most places on Earth, studies have shown that it is sufficient to reach the thresholds that Levy and his colleagues have documented in Antarctica. The parallels of what was found by the Mars Phoenix team is striking. Martian Water Stuck In Minerals: Scientific American Podcast. Mars today is pretty dry.

Martian Water Stuck In Minerals: Scientific American Podcast

But billions of years ago, water flowed across the Red Planet. It ran in rivers that carved deep valleys. And it may have even filled a Martian ocean inside what today look like the remains of ancient shorelines. So where’d all the water go? Scientists Discover That Mars is Full of Water. Evidence for Flowing Water on Mars Grows Stronger. THE WOODLANDS, Tex.

Evidence for Flowing Water on Mars Grows Stronger

—Today's Mars is a frigid desert, a place where water—the key to life as we know it—has gone into hiding. Dark streaks on Mars bolster case for liquid water - space - 04 August 2011. Mars's dust bowl image may need a makeover. Dark streaks seen forming in summer and fading in winter might be signs of water flowing just beneath the surface. The sudden appearance of streaks on sloping ground have been attributed to present-day liquid water before, although their origin is still debated. Light streaks have been seen appearing on steep slopes in images taken years apart by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.

And seasonal dark streaks have emerged in the north polar region. Liquid water flowing downhill might explain both types of events, but dust or sand avalanches could also be to blame. Now, new images have revealed a previously unknown population of seasonal dark streaks in Mars's southern hemisphere, with characteristics that seem to tie them to liquid water. Salty antifreeze They have been seen mainly on slopes in the southern hemisphere at mid-latitudes, though some have been seen near the equator, as well. Shifting grains.