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Space & Astronomy

New discovery rewrites the history of Mars

March 6, 2017 | Comment icon 19 comments



Mars was once covered in rivers and oceans. Image Credit: YouTube / NASA
Scientists have revealed that Mars was much wetter and therefore more habitable than previously thought.
The international study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Nevada, aimed to learn more about what the surface conditions were like on Mars in its distant past.

Of particular note was the discovery that a certain mineral found inside Martian meteorites, which had up until now been thought of as evidence that Mars had a very dry environment, might have once contained hydrogen - an indicator that the planet was actually much wetter.

For the study, scientists created a synthetic version of a hydrogen-containing mineral known as whitlockite and then conducted shock-compression experiments to simulate the conditions that occur when meteors are ejected from the surface of Mars.
The results suggested that whitlockite can actually become dehydrated under these conditions.

"This is important for deducing how much water could have been on Mars, and whether the water was from Mars itself rather than comets or meteorites," said scientist Martin Kunz.

If Mars really was much wetter in the past than previous studies had suggested then the chances that life once arose there may be higher than anyone could have ever imagined.

Source: Independent | Comments (19)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by qxcontinuum 6 years ago
there is a river called Somes in Romania Transylvania. upstream in the city there is a little hydro plant and the river flow is stopped every day to gather volume. when i was child i used to go there and collect hundreds of petrified creatures. the whole region was a rich sea teaming with life back in cretaceous. so the answer to your question you can find fossils pretty much everywhere. i even found a perfectly conserved scale in its true shine as it was real and it was while walking on a hill top. on Mars it could have been this one. Look at upper left hand corner.    
Comment icon #11 Posted by Frank Merton 6 years ago
The issue of water on Mars is what I would call a non-issue.  It has never been denied.  There is water practically everywhere unless some process has removed it.  The question is more a matter of how much. As I understand it Mars is now in a deep ice age, but there is not enough to form much in the way of glaciers.  Instead, everything is colder than normal and the water is all frozen underground.  In a few tens of millions of years things will moderate and liquid water on the surface may reappear.  It has to do with details of the orbit, and Mars has wilder swings in its eccentricity than th... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by taniwha 6 years ago
Hey that's a keen eye you have.  I use to look for fossils in the limestone cliffs as a kid. Miles inland and hundreds of metres above ocean level you could find sharks teeth and seashells like the one in your photo. Kool.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
That lack of critical thinking means that you have disproved this statement with your own words. You said this: When you was a child you used to go to a SPECIFIC place where you knew, IN ADVANCE, fossils were present. You weren't just finding them "pretty much everywhere". This is not the situation on Mars. Until these rover missions it wasn't even known for sure if there had been sea and lake beds to search. Only three tiny areas of Mars have been searched by rovers not specifically designed to search for fossils. Once again, if you think critically, you will realise why the rovers aren't fin... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by qxcontinuum 6 years ago
Rovers don't find fossils just because their remote drivers are turning blind eyes on potential clues like the picture above. Naturally if Curiosity should have been more curious would have come closer to investigate what appears from far to be an ammonite. you can't possible find anything in life if you disregard details. Same like ppl rushing through their busy lives or texting too much on their phones not finding any clues of ancient past that sometimes lies on grounds.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Frank Merton 6 years ago
It might be that the robots don't spot fossils because of the mindset of those who designed the robots, or it might be because such detail work is beyond present robot technology, or it might be because they aren't there.  The third possibility, being the most likely, at least to me, doesn't require evidence.  The other two do. I wonder if a case could be made out of this for manned exploration, but considering the costs, I suspect by the time we are ready to do that AI will have advanced enough to eliminate the argument. I realize that sooner or later human beings will go into space, but now ... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by bmk1245 6 years ago
Well then, I guess you are mining diamonds and rubies in your backyard, aren't yea? Ammonites "appeared" ~4 billion years after Earth was born, while open waters on Mars disappeared ~3.5 billion years ago. And thats the clue why scientists aren't wasting valuable resources on chasing "ghosts".
Comment icon #17 Posted by taniwha 6 years ago
I guess we can't be sure one way or the other then.
Comment icon #18 Posted by bmk1245 6 years ago
Sure as '100% sure'? Of course not, more likely '99.999...9% sure'.
Comment icon #19 Posted by taniwha 5 years ago
After we have explored 99.999...9% of Mars then I might agree with you 


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