This suggests that water has played a more extensive role than previously envisioned, and that environments capable of sustaining life could exist, according to new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Mars is a changing planet, and in recent geological time repeated freeze and thaw cycles has played a greater role than expected in terms of shaping the landscape. In an attempt to be able to make more reliable interpretations of the landscapes on Mars, researchers have developed new models for analysing images from the planet.
The process of analysing satellite images from Mars has been combined with similar studies of an arctic environment in Svalbard. Despite the fact that Svalbard is considerably warmer than Mars, the arctic landscape shows a number of striking similarities to certain parts of Mars.
One important common feature is the presence of permafrost and frozen subsurface water.
“In my thesis work, I have compared aerial images from Svalbard with the same resolution as satellite images from Mars, and combined with field-work we increase the ground resolution even further” explains Dr Andreas Johnsson from the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Earth Sciences, who has worked together with planetary researchers from Germany.
Having studied hundreds of gullies on Mars and compared these with Svalbard, the researchers found evidence that the gullies on Mars were likely formed by melting snow and water erosion. Field work has supplemented the interpretation of aerial images.
“The ability to get a first-hand experience with landforms that have been studied using aerial images is a unique feeling. One important insight we have gained is that, despite the high image resolution for both Svalbard and Mars, the camera can’t capture everything. What appears to be fine-grained sediment on an aerial image of Svalbard can actually turn out to be a very rocky area which has implications for certain types of landforms. It’s important to bear this in mind when studying images of Mars.”
Since Mars has a cyclical climate, the same conditions could recur in the future.
The existence of liquid water is a vital component if life on Mars is to be possible.
“Research on Earth has shown that organisms can survive in extreme cold environments with limited access to liquid water,” continues Dr Johnsson. “Studying various areas on Mars therefore enables us to investigate whether there could be environments with conditions capable of supporting life.”
Contact:Andreas Johnsson, Doctor of Physical Geography, Department of Earth Sciences
Helena Aaberg | idw
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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