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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 21 January 2013
in Mother Nature in Outer Space

Martian Crater Could Have Been A Lake

Yesterday “the strongest evidence yet that the red planet may have supported life” was published onlineMRO-NASA-layered-rock-mclaughlin-crater-Mars over at Nature Geoscience.

Shut down Curiosity! It’s all over! Except not really because the key words here are “evidence” and “may have.” The authors of the paper and NASA scientists sound like they aren't interested in throwing in the towel on Mars and still want to uncover all of its secrets.

Curiosity has yet to comment on the paper called “Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere” that contained data supplied by its cousin the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO.  Curiosity’s latest tweet was on Friday when it boasted that a life-sized model of itself referred to as “Ms. Curiosity” would be rolling in today’s inaugural parade. The rover, still playing in the dirt, seems largely unconcerned about the paper.

An interdisciplinary team, including Joseph Michalski with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona and London's Natural History Museum, analyzed spectrometer data from MRO after it had looked down on the floor of McLaughlin Crater located on the western side of the Arabia Terra region of Mars. The crater, named for astronomer Dean B. McLaughlin, is 57 miles in diameter and 1.4 miles deep. The depth of the crater once allowed underground water, which otherwise would have stayed underground minding its own business, to get all up into the crater.

The data showed that layered, flat rocks at the bottom of the crater (pictured above) contain carbonate and clay minerals that form when there is water. McLaughlin Crater’s characteristics indicated to researchers that it could have been at one time an established lake.

The statement noted: “Current exploration of Mars focuses on investigating surface processes because sedimentary rocks are most likely to provide the best chance evidence for habitability.”

We can assume this includes Curiosity’s work but now that Mclaughlin Crater has given scientists something to talk about future missions could choose to poke at rocks related to the surface or subsurface or both by finding areas where sedimentary rocks formed from subsurface fluids.

“In this paper, we present a strong case for exploring the subsurface, as well as the surface. But I don’t personally think we should try to drill into the subsurface to look for ancient life. Instead, we can study rocks that are naturally brought to the surface by meteor impact and search in deep basins where fluids have come to the surface,” said Michalski.

MRO project scientist Rich Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said in a statement about the research: "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."

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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