Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mars curiosity rover provides strong evidence for flowing water

31.05.2013
Rocks analyzed by NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover team, including Linda Kah, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, provide solid evidence that Mars had rivers or streams

Despite satellite images that show vast networks of channels, past Mars rover missions have shown limited evidence for flowing water on Mars.


Multiple outcroppings of rocks like this one (termed a pebble conglomerate) were observed along the first 275 meters traversed by the rover with the high-resolution Mastcam.

Credit: NASA

Now, rocks analyzed by NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover team, including Linda Kah, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, provide solid evidence that Mars had rivers or streams. This suggests that the environment was drastically different than today's cold and dry conditions, with the potential to support life.

A paper on the team's findings is published in this week's edition of Science.

Since its landing last August, the Curiosity Rover has been looking for clues to whether the Martian surface has ever had environments capable of sustaining, or potentially evolving, life. Critical evidence may include hydrated minerals or water-bearing minerals, organic compounds or other chemical ingredients related to life.

Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory mission used images collected from the rover's MastCam, which includes two high-resolution cameras mounted onto its mast. The cameras take full-color images and have filters that can isolate wavelengths of light that provide information about minerals present on the planet's surface.

As the rover moved from its landing site to its current location in "Yellowknife Bay," the cameras captured images of large rock formations composed of many rounded pebbles cemented into beds several centimeters thick. While such deposits are very common on Earth, the presence of these types of rocks on Mars has great significance for the Red Planet.

"These (rock formations) point to a past on Mars that was warmer, and wet enough to allow water to flow for many kilometers across the surface of Mars," said Kah, who helped work the cameras.

The clasts, or pebbles within the rock formation, appear to have been rounded by erosion while carried through water, such as in a stream or river. The size and orientation of the pebbles suggest they may have been carried by one or more shallow, fast-moving streams.

Using published abrasion rates and taking into consideration reduced gravity, the scientists estimate the pebbles were moved at least a few kilometers. Analyzing the grain size distribution and similar rock formations, the scientists believe the river was less than a meter deep and the water's average velocity was 0.2 to 0.75 meters per second.

"These rocks provide a record of past conditions at the site that contrasts with the modern Martian environment, whose atmospheric conditions make liquid water unstable," said Kah. "Finding ancient river deposits indicates sustained liquid water flows across the landscape, and raises prospects of once habitable conditions."

The mission will not conclude until at least 2014. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl.

Whitney Heins | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utk.edu
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht The lower mantle can be oxidized in the presence of water
25.05.2020 | Science China Press

nachricht New technique separates industrial noise from natural seismic signals
20.05.2020 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

Im Focus: NASA's Curiosity rover finds clues to chilly ancient Mars buried in rocks

By studying the chemical elements on Mars today -- including carbon and oxygen -- scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

Weaving this story, element by element, from roughly 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) away is a painstaking process. But scientists aren't the type...

Im Focus: Making quantum 'waves' in ultrathin materials

Study co-led by Berkeley Lab reveals how wavelike plasmons could power up a new class of sensing and photochemical technologies at the nanoscale

Wavelike, collective oscillations of electrons known as "plasmons" are very important for determining the optical and electronic properties of metals.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Inexpensive retinal diagnostics via smartphone

25.05.2020 | Medical Engineering

Smart machine maintenance: New AI system also detects unknown faults

25.05.2020 | Information Technology

Artificial Intelligence for optimized mobile communication

25.05.2020 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>