Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Water May Not Have Formed Mars’ Recent Gullies

17.03.2006


If you’re a scientist studying the surface of Mars, few discoveries could be more exciting than seeing recent gullies apparently formed by running water.

And that’s what scientists believed they saw in Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) images five years ago. They published a paper in Science on MOC images that show small, geologically young ravines. They concluded that the gullies are evidence that liquid water flowed on Mars’ surface sometime within the last million years.

A word of caution, though: The moon has gullies that look like that, a University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory researcher has found. And water certainly didn’t form gullies on the waterless moon.

Gwendolyn D. Bart is presenting the work today at the 37th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

"We’d all like to find liquid water on Mars," Bart said. "That would be really, really exciting. If there were liquid water on Mars, humans wouldn’t have to ship water from Earth when they go to explore the planet. That would be an enormous cost savings. And liquid water near the surface of Mars would greatly increase the chances for native life on Mars."

The 2000 Science paper was provocative, Bart said. "But I was skeptical. I wondered if there is another explanation for the gullies."

Then last year she heard a talk by Allan Treiman of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Treiman suggested the martian gullies might be dry landslides, perhaps formed by wind and not formed by water at all.

Recently, Bart was studying the lunar landscape in high-resolution images taken in 1969, prior to the Apollo landings, for her research on processes that modify the lunar surface.

"Totally by accident, I saw gullies that looked strikingly like the gullies on Mars," she said.

"If the dry landslide hypothesis for the formation of martian gullies is correct, we might expect to see similar features on the moon, where there is no water," she said. "We do."

Gullies in the moon’s 10-mile-diameter (17 kilometer) crater Dawes are similar in structure and size to those in a martian crater that MOC photographed. Micrometeorites hitting the smooth slopes and crater on the airless moon could easily trigger small avalanches that form gullies, Bart said.

However, the martian gullies also resemble gullies on Earth that were formed by water, she noted.

"My point is that you can’t just look at the Mars gullies and assume they were formed by water. It may be, or may be not. We need another test to know."

Lori Stiles | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Stagnation in the South Pacific Explains Natural CO2 Fluctuations
23.02.2018 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

nachricht First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals
22.02.2018 | University of Arizona

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>