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Signs of a lake found on Mars

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Source: Google images
Source: Google images
Source: Google images

New York: Researchers have discovered evidence of an ancient lake on Mars that likely represents some of the last potentially habitable surface water ever to exist on the red planet.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, examined an 18-square-mile chloride salt deposit in the planet’s Meridiani region near the Mars Opportunity rover’s landing site.

Large-scale salt deposits are considered to be evidence of evaporated bodies of water.

“This was a long-lived lake, and we were able to put a very good time boundary on its maximum age,” said Brian Hynek, a research associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU-Boulder and lead author of the study.

“We can be pretty certain that this is one of the last instances of a sizeable lake on Mars,” Hynek emphsised.

Digital terrain mapping and mineralogical analysis of the features surrounding the deposit indicate that this one-time lake bed is no older than 3.6 billion years old, well after the time period when Mars is thought to have been warm enough to sustain large amounts of surface water planet-wide.

Planetary scientists believe that the solar system was formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago.

Based on the extent and thickness of the salt, the researchers estimate that the lake was only about eight percent as salty as the Earth’s oceans and therefore may have been hospitable to microbial life.

“By salinity alone, it certainly seems as though this lake would have been habitable throughout much of its existence,” Hynek dded.

The study was published in the journal, Geology.

(IANS)

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NASA’s plan on getting Martian samples to Earth

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NASA brings Martian samples to Earth from Mars.
NASA brings Martian samples to Earth from Mars. IANS
  • NASA plans on getting Martian samples to Earth from Mars
  • To know if life existed anywhere other than on Earth

Washington, Dec 11: (IANS) NASA has revealed how it plans to bring back Martian samples to Earth for the first time with the help of its next rover mission to the Red Planet, Mars 2020.

After landing on Mars, a drill will capture rock cores, while a caching system with a miniature robotic arm will seal up these samples. Then, they will be deposited on the Martian surface for possible pickup by a future mission, NASA said.

“Whether life ever existed beyond Earth is one of the grand questions humans seek to answer,” said Ken Farley of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“What we learn from the samples collected during this mission has the potential to address whether we’re alone in the universe,” Farley said.

Mars 2020 relies heavily on the system designs and spare hardware previously created for Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover, which landed in 2012.

Despite its similarities to Mars Science Laboratory, the new mission has very different goals – it will seek signs of ancient life by studying the terrain that is now inhospitable, but once held flowing rivers and lakes, more than 3.5 billion years ago.

To achieve these new goals, the rover has a suite of cutting-edge science instruments.

It will seek out biosignatures on a microbial scale.

An X-ray spectrometer will target spots as small as a grain of table salt, while an ultraviolet laser will detect the “glow” from excited rings of carbon atoms.

A ground-penetrating radar will look under the surface of Mars, mapping layers of rock, water and ice up to 10 metres deep, depending on the material.

The rover is getting some upgraded Curiosity hardware, including colour cameras, a zoom lens and a laser that can vaporise rocks and soil to analyse their chemistry, NASA said.

The mission will also undertake a marathon sample hunt.

The rover team will try to drill at least 20 rock cores, and possibly as many as 30 or 40, for possible future return to Earth, NASA said.

Site selection has been another milestone for the mission. In February, the science community narrowed the list of potential landing sites from eight to three.

All three sites have rich geology and may potentially harbour signs of past microbial life. But a final landing site decision is still more than a year away.

“In the coming years, the 2020 science team will be weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each of these sites,” Farley said.

“It is by far the most important decision we have ahead of us,” Farley said.

The mission is set to launch in July/August 2020. (IANS)

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Mission Mars: Red Planet Mars possess ‘Ideal Conditions’ to create Oxygen from Natural Carbon Dioxide, says Study

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Mars
A study has found Mars to attain near ideal conditions for dynamically creating oxygen. Pixabay.

London, Oct 23: A study has found Mars to attain near ideal conditions for dynamically creating oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide with the use of plasma technology.

As stated by researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal and Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, Mars is already comprised of 96 per cent CO2 (carbon dioxide) in its atmosphere.

The PTI reported the research published in the journal Plasma Sources Science and Technology depicting the pressure and temperature ranges in the Martian atmosphere that sustains non-thermal plasma useful for effective production of oxygen.

Vaso Guerra, a researcher from the University of Lisbon in Portugal put forth his statement about their next significant steps of sending a manned mission to Mars for exploration of space. They are planning to create a substantial change by creating a breathable environment on Mars.

Healthy
Mars has a low atmospheric temperature enhancing the production of CO2. Wikimedia.

Plasma reforming of CO2 on Earth is an advancing research study, stimulated by the problems of change in climate and production of solar fuels. Plasmas at low temperature are one of the best media for CO2 deformation, where the molecule splits into oxygen and carbon monoxide combined with direct electron impact, and transfer of electron into vibrational energy.

Mars has superficial conditions for In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) through the plasma.

The cold atmosphere may stimulate high vibrational effect for producing oxygen than that achievable on Earth. The low atmospheric temperature on Mars will also enable the reaction to be slowly giving the maximum amount of time for separation of molecules.

The plasma technology decomposition method aims to offer a two output for a manned mission towards Mars. The technique would provide a stable supply of oxygen and as a source of fuel that can be used as a propellant mixture in rocket vehicles. This approach by ISRU could help in simplifying the logistics involved in space exploration by increasing self-sufficiency, decrease the risks to the crew, and reduction in expenditure for carrying out the mission.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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NASA’S Mars Odyssey Spacecraft Captures First Images of the Martian Moon Phobos after 16 years

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres

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Phobos
On September 29, Phobos was observed by Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, which has been launched in 2001. Pixabay

Washington, October 8, 2017 : After orbiting the Red Planet for 16 years, NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has captured its first images of the Martian moon Phobos.

The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, launched in 2001, observed Phobos on September 29.

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres.

Cameras on other Mars orbiters have previously taken higher-resolution images of Phobos, but none with the infrared information available from THEMIS.

Observations in multiple bands of thermal-infrared wavelengths can yield information about the mineral composition of the surface, as well as the surface texture, NASA said in a statement this week.

“Although THEMIS has been at Mars for 16 years, this was the first time we have been able to turn the spacecraft around to look at Phobos,” said THEMIS Mission Planner Jonathon Hill of Arizona State University.

The researchers combined visible-wavelength and infrared data to produce an image color-coded for surface temperatures of this moon, which has been considered for a potential future human-mission outpost, NASA said.

“This half-moon view of Phobos was chosen because it allowed us to observe a wide range of temperatures on the surface,” Hill added.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

One major question about Phobos and Mars’ even smaller moon, Deimos, is whether they are captured asteroids or bits of Mars knocked into the sky by impact.

The researchers believe that compositional information from THEMIS might help pin down their origin.

Since Odyssey began orbiting the Red Planet in 2001, THEMIS has provided compositional and thermal properties information from all over Mars, but never before imaged either Martian moon.

The September 29 observation was completed to validate that the spacecraft could safely do so, as the start of a possible series of observations of Phobos and Deimos in coming months.

“There is heightened interest in Phobos because of the possibility that future astronauts could perhaps use it as an outpost,” said Odyssey Project Scientist Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (IANS)