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In the center of the image is a round- ended chasm or canyon, deeper than the Grand Canyon on Earth. The walls of the chasm form steps down to its floor, and each step is a layer of tough, strong rock; there must be weaker rock layers between the steps. These layers extend for hundreds of kilometers, and may have formed originally as sediments (mud and sand) deposited in an ancient lake.
Scientists have discovered the first definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars. Using data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the team found evidence of a deep, ancient lake. The finding could be important in the search for past life on the Red Planet.
"We believe that the gray hematite is very strong evidence that water was once present in that area," said Victoria Hamilton, a planetary geologist at Arizona State University (ASU). "We think the deposit is fairly old. It was buried, perhaps, for several hundred million years or more and now it's being exposed by wind erosion."
From the article:
In this false-color map of Mars, soil enriched in hydrogen is indicated by deep blue. Source: the neutron spectrometer onboard NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft.
It's estimated that there is 100X as much H2O in the Martian polar ice caps than in all 5 of the Great Lakes.
"This is the best direct evidence we have of subsurface water ice on Mars." Indeed, he added, "what we have found is much more ice than we ever expected."
A laser instrument designed to gather knowledge of how the atmosphere and surface interact on Mars has detected snow from clouds about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) above the spacecraft's landing site. Data show the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground.
There are two known ways that such silica-rich soil - which is 90% pure silicon dioxide - could have formed. Water heated by subsurface volcanic activity, with lots of silica dissolved in it, could have percolated up into the soil, and then as it evaporated left the silica behind....
The meteorite does contain magnetite, but the results of an analysis by Kim and other scientists in 1999 proved inconclusive – the
magnetite’s magnetic signature looked like something in between the signals expected for biogenic and non-biogenic magnetite.
It might even have implications for the origin of life, as suggested by experiments in the 1950s
“Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars in 2003 indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas,” said Dr. Michael Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “At northern mid-summer, methane is released at a rate comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, Calif.”
In the OP I explained probably the more popular theory that as Mars cooled after it's formation, the interior molten core solidified, slowly weakening the magnetic field, leaving the planet and atmosphere vulnerable to charged particles from the sun. Over time those particles ionized the atmosphere slowly eating away at it. Since the atmosphere was damaged, the pressure and warmth of the planet was altered, both factors necessary for the presence of liquid water.
I just wonder how it was made possible that Mars dried up like a prune and into dust?!
I like this one the best.
Or did a higher level civilization of aliens with huge motherships suck up the physical contents on the planet thus making it uninhabitable?
Originally posted by Skywatcher2011
reply to post by TupacShakur
Thank you for the copious amount of detail in your post. Also it was a great read! Loved the pictures. But your fourth last picture of how Mars would have looked like with the water and atmosphere draws a close resemblance to environmental conditions on Earth.
I just wonder how it was made possible that Mars dried up like a prune and into dust?! Was it too close to the Sun? Did asteroids blast it a few times to create high heat conditions thus vaporizing life on the planet? Or did a higher level civilization of aliens with huge motherships suck up the physical contents on the planet thus making it uninhabitable? The theories are boundless!
*SnF*edit on 9-7-2011 by Skywatcher2011 because: added word
Originally posted by Terrorist
If I'm reading that correctly, the most likely source of the methane is extant microbes, no?
Many scientists more qualified than me will stand firm that Mars had great bodies of liquid water on its surface in a distant past but it just doesn't make sense to me, and if it did near the time of accretion, that is not a habitable time for life to form. It took a billion years for earth to cool after accretion for the first biological single cell to arrive and another 2.8 billion years after that to evolve to the lofty advance life form similar to a common earth worm.
I don't buy life on Mars ever beyond microbial, and not sure I even buy that. That's even more involved of a subject as to when mineral compounds become organic, I side with a living cell to define life, beyond chemical reactions.
Originally posted by TheUniverse
...Care to explain the apparent absence of craters in the northern hemisphere compared to the southern