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TOPIC: Mars - more water


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NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has found evidence of salt deposits. These deposits point to places where water once was abundant and where evidence might exist of possible Martian life from the Red Planet's past.
A team led by Mikki Osterloo of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, found approximately 200 places on southern Mars that show spectral characteristics consistent with chloride minerals. Chloride is part of many types of salt, such as sodium chloride or table salt. The sites range from about a square kilometre to 25 times that size.

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Scientists have suggested that huge fountains of carbonated water once erupted on ancient Mars, hurling hailstones and mud several kilometres into the air.
According to a report in New Scientist, scientists led by Alistair Bargery of Lancaster University in the UK, said that they have found signs of ancient geysers on Mars that would have dwarfed even those in Yellowstone National Park in US.
Towering a couple of kilometres above the surface, Martian geysers rained hailstones and muddy water for several kilometres around

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Large volumes of water ice have probably been detected below Mars' surface, far from the planet's polar ice caps, scientists have said.
The Sharad radar experiment, on Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft made the discovery in Mars' mid-northern latitudes.
The ice is found in distinctive geological structures on Mars' surface that are hundreds of metres thick.

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Holden crater
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Scientists studying images from The University of Arizona-led High Resolution Imaging Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have discovered never-before-seen impact "megabreccia" and a possibly once-habitable ancient lake on Mars at a place called Holden crater.
The megabreccia is topped by layers of fine sediments that formed in what apparently was a long-lived, calm lake that filled Holden crater on early Mars, HiRISE scientists say.

Section Through Largest of Holden Crater Fans
Section Through Largest of Holden Crater Fans (PSP_003077_1530)
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Latitude (centred): -27.0 Longitude (East): 325.5

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Billions of yeas ago on Mars, a river suddenly burst to the surface from underground and flooded a large crater, only to disappear again within a few decades, according to a new study. Although the water was short-lived on the surface, it may have been present for longer underground, potentially creating conditions favourable to life.
Many ancient river channels are among the evidence that liquid water was once present on Mars, but in many cases it is difficult to know just how long that water was around.
Now, a new study says the water in at least one location on Mars flowed for just a few decades before disappearing again. The study, led by Erin Kraal of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, US, is based on the pattern of sediment left behind when an ancient river emerged from underground, flowed for 20 kilometres, then drained into a crater.

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Sudden, tremendous gushes of water from underground most likely carved out unusual fan-shaped geological formations with steps like a staircase long ago on the surface of Mars, scientists said on Wednesday.
The Martian surface boasts perhaps 200 large basins that have formations resembling fans. About 10 of them are terraced, with what looks like steps into the basin. Since they were first seen three years ago, scientists have debated how these formations, some of them 9 miles wide, were created.

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Like salt used as a preservative, high concentrations of dissolved minerals in the wet, early-Mars environment known from discoveries by NASA's Opportunity rover may have thwarted any microbes from developing or surviving.

"Not all water is fit to drink" - Andrew Knoll, a member of the rover science team who is a biologist at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, began their fifth year on Mars last month, far surpassing their prime missions of three months. Today, at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, scientists and engineers discussed new observations by the rovers, recent analysis of some earlier discoveries, and perspectives on which lessons from these rovers' successes apply to upcoming missions to Mars.

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The longstanding mystery of how oceans once formed on Mars could be solved by fire and brimstone.
Specifically, researchers now suggest that ancient volcanoes could have released brimstone now more commonly known as sulphur that warmed up the red planet enough for liquid water oceans in the early days of Mars. These findings might also shed insight on the young Earth, including the origins of life, scientists added.

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NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is examining several features on Mars that address the role of water at different times in Martian history.
Features examined with the orbiter's advanced instruments include material deposited in two gullies within the past eight years, polar ice layers formed in the recent geologic past, and signs of water released by large impacts when Mars was older.
Last year, discovery of the fresh gully deposits from before-and-after images taken since 1999 by another orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor, raised hopes that modern flows of liquid water had been detected on Mars. Observations by the newer orbiter, which reached Mars last year, suggest these deposits might instead have resulted from landslides of loose, dry materials. Researchers report this and other findings from the MRO in five papers in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

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Using observations by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, scientists have discovered that water ice lies at variable depths over small-scale patches on Mars.
The findings draw a much more detailed picture of underground ice on Mars than was previously available. They suggest that when NASA's next Mars mission, the Phoenix Mars Lander, starts digging to icy soil on an arctic plain in 2008, it might find the depth to the ice differs in trenches just a few feet apart. The new results appear in the May 3, 2007, issue of the journal Nature.

Imageice1
Expand (229kb, 1024 x 768)
This colour-coded map indicates the depth to icy layers at a site in southern Mars. The dense, icy layer retains heat better than the looser soil above it, so where the icy layer is closer to the surface, the surface temperature changes more slowly than where the icy layer is buried deeper.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

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