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    Evidence Of Liquid Water On Mars
    By News Staff | April 25th 2014 11:42 AM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    The southern hemisphere of Mars is home to a crater that contains very well-preserved gullies and debris flow deposits and he geomorphological attributes of these landforms provide evidence that they were formed by the action of liquid water in geologically recent time.

    When sediment on a slope becomes saturated with water, the mixture may become too heavy to remain in place, leading to a flow of debris and water as a single-phase unit. This is called a debris flow.

    Debris flows on Earth often cause significant material destruction and even human casualties, when they occur in built-up areas. During a debris flow, a mixture of stones, gravel, clay and water moves rapidly down a slope. When the sediment subsequently stops, it displays characteristic surface features such as lobate deposits and paired levees along flow channels.




    Debris flowing on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/UofA for HiRISE

    It is these landforms researchers have identified on Mars. The research group has been able to compare the landforms on Mars with known debris flows on Svalbard with the aid of aerial photography and field studies. The debris flows on Mars provide evidence that liquid water has been present in the region. 

    "Our fieldwork on Svalbard confirmed our interpretation of the Martian deposits. What surprised us was that the crater in which these debris flows have formed is so young," says Andreas Johnsson of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg and principle author of a new article on the topic.

    After the ice age

    Crater statistics allowed Johnsson and his co-authors to determine that the age of the crater to be approximately 200,000 years. This means that the crater was formed long after the most recent proposed ice age on Mars, which ended around 400,000 years ago.

    "Gullies are common on Mars, but the ones which have been studied previously are older, and the sediments where they have formed are associated with the most recent ice age. Our study crater on Mars is far too young to have been influenced by the conditions that were prevalent then. This suggests that the meltwater-related processes that formed these deposits have been exceptionally effective also in more recent times," says Johnsson.

    The study crater is situated in the mid-latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere, superposed on what is known as the rampart ejecta of a nearby larger crater. A rampart ejecta display a "flowerlike" form around the host crater, and scientists have interpreted this as being the result of an impact in wet or ice-rich ground.

    "My first thought was that the water that formed these debris flows had come from preserved ice within the rampart ejecta. But when we looked more closely, we didn't find any structures such as faults or fractures in the crater that could have acted as conduits for the meltwater. It is more likely that the water has come from melting snow packs, when the conditions were favorable for snow formation. This is possible, since the orbital axis of Mars was more tilted in the past than it is today," says Johnsson. 




    Comments

    Then, perhaps, are there fossils on Mars, are life expressions elsewhere? Isn’t the emergence and maintenance of life a process of radical contingency? That is, is a unique and unrepeatable past totally necessary? Or does life emerge through space like mushrooms when some conditions are present? So, how many conditions are necessary: three, four, trillions, infinite? Only one, water or any sort of God? Is God the word that means infinite conditions, absolute necessity? Anyway, how did the life that emerge in a given conditions resist when switching to a different moment? How does life resist time itself, the effects of entropy? But, is it possible for human beings to recognize a simpler life than their own brain only? On the other hand, beyond likeness, is it possible to recognize a complex life than their brain, is this the extra-terrestrial life that some people are searching unsuccessfully? However, is there an origin of life or would it be as finding a cut in the material history of the universe, an infinite void that human language patches now? Along these lines, there is a peculiar book, a short preview in goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms.

    Hank
    If you write one more of these comments, which is nothing more than a way to promote whatever it is you are promoting, you are banned. 4 in one day is plenty.
    I think it's quite amazing to have found evidence of water being present on Mars. Above this point, the idea that there was an ice age is also an extremely progressive development in our understanding of the universe's history I think we often forget how young the earth and our solar system are in comparison to the whole universe. It's quite possible that as we further ourselves in space exploration, we could find conditions such as the water on Mars that ( despite being a controversial topic) could indicate extra-terrestrial life. My question would be how the water could have possibly formed on or reached Mars. The basis of my question is the theory that comets containing ice could have brought Earth's water supply as they plummeted from space. Could a similar thing have happened on Mars?

    I have heard that there might have been life or there could be life on Mars, is it true?. I know that the atmosphere in Mars is too thin to support life currently but is there a possibility that there is already life on Mars because we has humans have never actually been on Mars, only the probes that we have sent have been there. If there currently is no life can we kick start the evolution of life and maybe one day make it habitable enough for humans to survive there? I have heard a couple of ideas about making Mars habitable for humans, but the one that stood out for me was causing global warming on mars and leading it to have conditions like the ones on Earth for it to be able to support things like plants, water bodies etc.