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Scientists Claim, Underground Lake System Likely Existed On Mars

Researchers said flow channels, pool-shaped valleys and fan-shaped sediment deposits seen in dozens of kilometers-deep craters in Mars' northern hemisphere would have needed water to form.

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Example of features identified in a deep basin on Mars that show it was influenced by groundwater billions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) VOA

Scientists say images of craters taken by European and American space probes show there likely once was a planet-wide system of underground lakes on Mars.

Data collected by NASA and ESA probes orbiting the red planet provide the first geological evidence for an ancient Martian groundwater system, according to a study by researchers in Italy and the Netherlands published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Francesco Salese, one of the scientists involved, said in an email Friday that the findings confirm earlier models and smaller-scale studies, and that the underground lakes may have been connected to each other.

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Data collected by NASA and ESA probes orbiting the red planet provide the first geological evidence for an ancient Martian groundwater system. VOA

The notion of water on Mars has long fascinated scientists because of the possibility that the planet may have once harbored similar conditions to those that allowed life to develop on Earth. Patches of ice previously spotted on Mars provide tantalizing hints of a watery past for the arid world.

Researchers said flow channels, pool-shaped valleys and fan-shaped sediment deposits seen in dozens of kilometers-deep craters in Mars’ northern hemisphere would have needed water to form.

Co-author Gian Gabriele Ori said an ocean some scientists speculate Mars may once have had between three and four billion years ago could even have been connected to the underground lakes.

The researchers also saw signs of minerals such as clay on Mars that would have required long periods of exposure to water to form. Ralf Jaumann, a planetary scientist at the German Aerospace Center who wasn’t directly involved in the study, said such sites are a good starting point for future Mars landers to search for signs of ancient life.

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The researchers also saw signs of minerals such as clay on Mars that would have required long periods of exposure to water to form. Pixabay

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However Jack Mustard, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University who also wasn’t part of the study, questioned the paper’s claims, saying he didn’t see evidence of underground lakes in the data.

“But I am probably just a skeptical Martian,” he added. (VOA)

Next Story

Trump Increases NASA Spending by $1.6 Billion With Goal of Returning to Moon

"I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!"

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to employees about the agency's progress toward sending astronauts to the moon and on to Mars during a televised event, Monday, March 11, 2019. VOA

The Trump administration asked Congress on Monday to increase NASA spending next year by an extra $1.6 billion to accommodate the accelerated goal of returning Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024.

The increased funding request, announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter, comes nearly two months after Vice President Mike Pence declared the objective of shortening by four years NASA’s timeline for putting astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972.

The proposed increase would bring NASA’s total spending level for the 2020 fiscal year to $22.6 billion. The bulk of the increase is earmarked for research and development for a human lunar landing system, according to a summary provided by NASA.

NASA
“I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”, says Trump. Pixabay

“Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars,” Trump tweeted late on Monday. “I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” NASA had previously aimed to return crewed spacecraft to the lunar surface by the year 2028, after first putting a “Gateway” station into orbit around the moon by 2024.

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The newly accelerated goal – an endeavor likely to cost tens of billions of dollars – comes as NASA has struggled with the help of private partners to resume human space missions from U.S. soil for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

The U.S. Apollo program, NASA’s forerunner to the effort at returning humans to Earth’s natural satellite, tallied six manned missions to the moon from 1969 to 1972. So far, only two other nations have conducted controlled “soft” landings on the moon – the former Soviet Union and China. But those were with unmanned robot vehicles. (VOA)