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Signs of a lake found on Mars

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Source: Google images
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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 Developing Technology For Human Missions to Moon, Mars

NASA said its series of crewed missions to Mars, planned to start in the 2030's and culminating in a surface landing, would be supported by the work it does on the Moon in the coming years

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NASA, Microsoft
NASA charts roadmap for human missions to Moon, Mars. Pixabay

Revealing its human explorations plans, NASA has told the US Congress that the agency is currently focusing on developing technologies and systems that enable a series of human and robotic lunar missions that are extensible to Mars.

The “National Space Exploration Campaign” that NASA submitted to the Congress on September 24 calls for human and robotic exploration missions to expand the frontiers of human experience and scientific discovery of the natural phenomena of Earth, other worlds and the cosmos, the US space agency said in a statement on Thursday.

The campaign has five strategic goals, including returning US astronauts to the surface of the Moon to demonstrating the capabilities required for human missions to Mars and other destinations.

NASA said it intends to transition from the current model of human space activities in low-Earth orbit to a model where the government is only one customer for commercial services.

The US space agency is building a plan for Americans to orbit the Moon starting in 2023, and land astronauts on the surface no later than the late 2020s.

NASA
The campaign has five strategic goals, including returning US astronauts to the surface of the Moon to demonstrating the capabilities required for human missions to Mars and other destinations. Flickr

A key component of establishing the first permanent American presence and infrastructure on and around the Moon is the Gateway, a lunar orbiting platform to host astronauts farther from Earth than ever before, NASA said.

Some elements of the Gateway already are under construction at NASA centers across the United States, including facilities in Ohio, Texas and Alabama, and at commercial partner facilities.

The Gateway will be assembled in space, incrementally, using the Orion spacecraft and SLS, as well as commercial launch vehicles. The first element, providing power and propulsion, will launch from Florida in 2022, NASA added in the statement.

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“The lunar surface will serve as a crucial training ground and technology demonstration test site where we will prepare for future human missions to Mars and other destinations,” NASA said, adding that by the late 2020s, a lunar lander capable of transporting crews and cargo will begin trips to the surface of the Moon.

NASA said its series of crewed missions to Mars, planned to start in the 2030’s and culminating in a surface landing, would be supported by the work it does on the Moon in the coming years. (IANS)

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