Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Water on Mars not easy to find

11.08.2004


Suspected large lakebeds that once were scattered on the planet Mars have not yet been found, say the research team that operated the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Their work appears in the current issue of Science magazine.

Members of the team have written several articles in the magazine, among them "The Spirit Rover’s Athena Science Investigation at Gusev Crater" that deals with the search for water on the red planet, and "Pancam Multispectral Imaging Results from the Spirit Rover at Gusev Crater" that focuses on camera images taken by the rovers as they slowly traversed Mars’ surface.

Texas A&M University research Mark Lemmon, a member of the Mars rover team and professor in the College of Geosciences, is one of the co-authors of the two articles.



Two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on Mars in January on different areas of the planet to perform a variety of scientific work and experiments. One of the key goals of the $820 million NASA mission was to locate the presence of large quantities of water on Mars, which scientists believed were once there – mainly in the form of large lakes and perhaps even small seas.

Only the results of the Spirit rover are detailed in the articles, with information about Opportunity to be published in a future issue. Although the rovers uncovered the presence of small amounts of water in rock samples, no large lakebeds have yet to be found, Lemmon says. "We wanted to explore two specific sites on Mars that we thought were once large areas of water," Lemmon explains. "We selected Gusev Crater for Spirit to roam through because it appeared to have once contained a lake. But so far, we have uncovered no evidence of such a lake or any other large body of water. We did find fairly recent evidence of lava flows, and it appears many of the rocks on Mars are from volcanic eruptions. We have found non-volcanic rocks with Opportunity and may yet do so with Spirit," Lemmon notes.

"If large bodies of water were on Mars, they may be buried very deep under the surface, too deep for the rovers to locate such possible water sites. "NASA had a slogan, ’Follow the water,’ meaning we should try to learn whatever we could about water on Mars," Lemmon adds. "If there were ever large amounts of water on Mars, that means there could be life there, and that’s always been the big question."

Lemmon says the team did learn that Martian dust is everywhere on the planet. "The dust is so thick it coats everything, including our equipment on the rovers, so thick it clogged up solar panels we used to power some of the machinery on the rovers," he added.

Lemmon says the photographs taken by the rovers were spectacular, both in their clarity and the quality of the images. "We got some wide panoramic shots that have never been taken before," he notes. "The rovers also got photos of Martian landscape that were extremely useful to us. We got some shots of small hills that were very sharp." Some 3-D photos were also taken, which proved to be very informative, Lemmon added.

Lemmon says Spirit and Opportunity are still active on Mars, but they will soon be entering a hibernation stage because of limited sunlight. The rovers rely on solar energy for much of their power, and a sol – a Martian day – now has less and less sunlight.

"We’ll slow things down from now through October," he explains. "After that, we’ll have more sunlight to do some other things."

Keith Randall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>