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Waspie_Dwarf

Martian Crater May Once Have Held Lake

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Martian Crater May Once Have Held Groundwater-Fed Lake

720540mainpia16710673.jpg

This view of layered rocks on the floor of McLaughlin Crater shows sedimentary rocks that contain spectroscopic evidence for minerals formed through interaction with water. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona › Full image and caption

PASADENA, Calif. -- A NASA spacecraft is providing new evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars that adds to an increasingly complex picture of the Red Planet's early evolution.

The new information comes from researchers analyzing spectrometer data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which looked down on the floor of McLaughlin Crater. The Martian crater is 57 miles (92 kilometers) in diameter and 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers) deep. McLaughlin's depth apparently once allowed underground water, which otherwise would have stayed hidden, to flow into the crater's interior.

Layered, flat rocks at the bottom of the crater contain carbonate and clay minerals that form in the presence of water. McLaughlin lacks large inflow channels, and small channels originating within the crater wall end near a level that could have marked the surface of a lake.

Together, these new observations suggest the formation of the carbonates and clay in a groundwater-fed lake within the closed basin of the crater. Some researchers propose the crater interior catching the water and the underground zone contributing the water could have been wet environments and potential habitats. The findings are published in Sunday's online edition of Nature Geoscience.

"Taken together, the observations in McLaughlin Crater provide the best evidence for carbonate forming within a lake environment instead of being washed into a crater from outside," said Joseph Michalski, lead author of the paper, which has five co-authors. Michalski also is affiliated with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., and London's Natural History Museum.

Michalski and his co-authors used the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to check for minerals such as carbonates, which are best preserved under non-acidic conditions.

"The MRO team has made a concerted effort to get highly processed data products out to members of the science community like Dr. Michalski for analysis," said CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "New results like this show why that effort is so important."

Launched in 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its six instruments have provided more high-resolution data about the Red Planet than all other Mars orbiters combined. Data are made available for scientists worldwide to research, analyze and report their findings.

"A number of studies using CRISM data have shown rocks exhumed from the subsurface by meteor impact were altered early in Martian history, most likely by hydrothermal fluids," Michalski said. "These fluids trapped in the subsurface could have periodically breached the surface in deep basins such as McLaughlin Crater, possibly carrying clues to subsurface habitability."

McLaughlin Crater sits at the low end of a regional slope several hundreds of miles, or kilometers, long on the western side of the Arabia Terra region of Mars. As on Earth, groundwater-fed lakes are expected to occur at low regional elevations. Therefore, this site would be a good candidate for such a process.

"This new report and others are continuing to reveal a more complex Mars than previously appreciated, with at least some areas more likely to reveal signs of ancient life than others," said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Scientist Rich Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., provided and operates CRISM. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the orbiter.

To see an image of the carbonate-bearing layers in McLaughlin Crater, visit: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16710 .

For more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mro

Guy Webster 818-354-6278

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Alan Fischer 520-382-0411

Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Ariz.

fischer@psi.edu

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726

NASA Headquarters, Washington

dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

2013-028

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That Looks like a lake to me ! Great photo Waspie !

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That Looks like a lake to me ! Great photo Waspie !

Don't let the blue fool you those aren't the true colours. It's a false colour image to highlight different rock types. There is no water in that image and it is not a lake now. There hasn't been a lake there for millions of years.

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Don't let the blue fool you those aren't the true colours. It's a false colour image to highlight different rock types. There is no water in that image and it is not a lake now. There hasn't been a lake there for millions of years.

BS. I can see a whale and 3 dolphins. :passifier:

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I want to buy the island. If its volcanically stable that is.

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lol

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If the colors on the picture in the article are accurate, the probe looks like it's in the red clay region of North Carolina :>)

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Ooooh! This is getting good!! Good Job, NASA! Hehehe... :alien:

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I know the photo is in false color I was talking about the rings looking like a receeding water line ,beach like effect. I can really imagine that planet with water in that place like here on earth. Only a million years or so ago . Great photo Waspie.

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Yes I agree. Very nice pic!

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Can you imagine what would happen if signs of life were found on Mars? Omg... We would lose our minds..arguing, debunking, arguing, speculating, arguing....

I'm excited just thinking there's signs of water!!

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Even if there isn't life there now, this is certainly an exciting time to be alive.

Who knows what we'll know about Mars 50 years from now?

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Don't let the blue fool you those aren't the true colours. It's a false colour image to highlight different rock types. There is no water in that image and it is not a lake now. There hasn't been a lake there for millions of years.

I'd like to know how they can be so sure there wasn't any lake for millions of years. Would they know if it was 'only' 100,000 years ago?

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Can you imagine what would happen if signs of life were found on Mars? Omg... We would lose our minds..arguing, debunking, arguing, speculating, arguing....

Yes thats right..... we would all go absolutely mad, a presidential address, religious leaders esposing many ideas and mantras, debunkers, the world would go nuts. Thats why we will never be told.

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Yes thats right..... we would all go absolutely mad, a presidential address, religious leaders esposing many ideas and mantras, debunkers, the world would go nuts. Thats why we will never be told.

I think that's ridiculous. After a while emotions will settle down, and it will become a simple accepted fact.

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Does the revelation that mars currently or in the past supports life really surprise anyone? Not me.

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Even if there isn't life there now, this is certainly an exciting time to be alive.

Who knows what we'll know about Mars 50 years from now?

Who knows what they really know now?

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Who knows what they really know now?

In reality? No one.

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Sounds like a song in the making ! :tu::whistle:

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We have had the technology to determine whether or not there is now, or has been in the past, life on Mars....for the past 50 years.

It's laughable when scientists say that with the new space-based telescopes...that they will be able to say for certain that there is life on a planet light years away....but they can't say for certain regarding a planet they've landed on several times?

Regardless of what you believe, NASA knows the answer already. It's their funding that fuels the entire thing.

If I owned a private space-faring company, I'd milk it for all it was worth to gain your money in support of finding life....EVEN IF I knew it was already present. That's just smart and savvy business sense.

And we're now at the point to where people are starting to question why so much money is being spent on space exploration and, in particular, the exploration of Mars.

Guess what's next? What would YOU say if you were in THEIR shoes?

"We think we have evidence for past life..........but we're gonna need another $100 billion to find out...."

Gimme a friggin' break. If they can determine if life is present through spectroscopy on a damn world 15 light years away, then they surely can't when they take our money to send lander after lander to a world that's cosmically in our own back yard.

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We have had the technology to determine whether or not there is now, or has been in the past, life on Mars....for the past 50 years.

It's laughable when scientists say that with the new space-based telescopes...that they will be able to say for certain that there is life on a planet light years away....but they can't say for certain regarding a planet they've landed on several times?

Regardless of what you believe, NASA knows the answer already. It's their funding that fuels the entire thing.

If I owned a private space-faring company, I'd milk it for all it was worth to gain your money in support of finding life....EVEN IF I knew it was already present. That's just smart and savvy business sense.

And we're now at the point to where people are starting to question why so much money is being spent on space exploration and, in particular, the exploration of Mars.

Guess what's next? What would YOU say if you were in THEIR shoes?

"We think we have evidence for past life..........but we're gonna need another $100 billion to find out...."

Gimme a friggin' break. If they can determine if life is present through spectroscopy on a damn world 15 light years away, then they surely can't when they take our money to send lander after lander to a world that's cosmically in our own back yard.

I don;t know where you got the idea from that they can determine whether life exists on planets 15 light years away. What they CAN determine is whether the conditions on that far away planet could make the existence of life 'as we know it' possible.

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