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Mars Space Science

"Definitive Evidence" For Ancient Lake On Mars 102

TheSync writes "Eurekalert reports on 'definitive evidence' for an ancient water lake on Mars. A UC Boulder research team has discovered evidence of a shoreline on Mars of a 3 billion year-old lake 80 square miles in area and 1,500 feet deep (roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain). Images came from the HiRISE instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Water carved a 30-mile-long canyon that opened up into a valley and forming a large delta during a time when Mars is generally believed to have been cold and dry. The lack of additional, lower shorelines, shows that the lake dried up very quickly. Of particular interest are the deltas adjacent to the lake. On Earth, deltas rapidly bury organic carbon and other biomarkers of life, making the Martian lake bed and delta a prime target for future searches for past life on the planet."
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"Definitive Evidence" For Ancient Lake On Mars

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  • by CosmicRabbit ( 1505129 ) <> on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:59AM (#28390989)
    So knowing how on Earth water and life are so intrinsically associated, this seems like the perfect spot to send a future rover mission. In the past we got some inconclusive results from biochemical analysis of the soil in more arid zones of the red planet. Perhaps on this spot we can be more lucky?
    Also, the proof of early existence of liquid water on the planet also hints at a denser atmosphere and warmer temperatures on those times. This is very promising!
  • by HuckleCom ( 690630 ) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:21PM (#28391297) Homepage
    Why are we still putting quotes around 'definitive evidence' ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @02:32PM (#28393145)

    I still think that the best spot to send a rover to would be the most hazardous of all places to do so. That is to the bottom of the deepest part of the largest and deepest canyon on the planet, the Valles Marinaris. This canyon is deeper than the Earth's Grand Canyon. It is known that the bottom of the Grand Canyon has a microclimate all its own, wetter and warmer considerably than that of the plateau surface above it. At six miles deep, consider our own planet. The atmosphere on our planet has a pressure density at six miles above it that is not much thicker than that of Mars at it's 'mean sea level'. That is why climbers of Mt Everest need oxygen to survive for long, and at 29000 feet this is thousands of feet LOWER than the elevation distance from floor to rim of the Valles Marinaris! For this reason I state that pressure density of the Martian atmosphere at the bottom of the Valles Marinaris will be more dense than any other place on that planet. Add to this that winds on the surface of the plateau above probably have limited interchange with the air on the bottom and the inescapable conclusion is that even the composition of the atmosphere on the bottom may be quite different from that outside the canyon. If there is any surface water or flowing water on the planet it will very likely be in sheltered pools on the bottom of the Valles Marinaris. If there is refugee life on this rock, that is also the most likely place. Human visitors should be warned, however, that life even here may be ravenously hungry so should take precautions. That said, this valley should also be protected from contamination from visiting spacecraft lest the bugs it finds be our own. That further said, it is possible that assuming panspermia of sorts, life here could have originated on Mars in the first place, especially seeing Earth itself underwent several episodes of global glaciation like Mars today. How do we know that during our own global glaciation that we were not a 'red planet' as well, with red dust from volcanic eruptions covering our own water ice. So their bugs may look like OUR bugs and fool at least some of our scientists for honest reasons into thinking that contamination had taken place.....somehow. Other less scrupulous 'patho-skeptik' so called 'scientists' would probably take the same position knowing the opposite to be true for more sinister reasons: "If life was found outside Earth, then religion ON Earth would maybe fail under logical testing and cause religious wars so better to deny the fact as long as plausible deniability exists....these individuals, knowing the truth, would fiercely oppose any serious Martian exploration; or "If life was found indigenous to Mars, then this would be against the 'prevailing so called wisdom or party line' that establishment scientists were supposed to follow if they wanted to keep their careers"! Either one of these kinds of so-called 'scientists', and there are probably others that I have not thought of, in great numbers or influence could and would try to set us back progresswise for many years. They have done so before, and religious of various stripes have usually been at the bottom of it.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.