Mars rover Curiosity finds signs of ancient stream
By Alicia Chang | AssociatedPress
The NASA rover Curiosity has beamed back pictures of bedrock that suggest a fast-moving stream, possibly waist-deep, once flowed on Mars — a find that the mission’s chief scientist called exciting.
There have been previous signs that water existed on the red planet long ago, but the images released Thursday showing pebbles rounded off, likely by water, offered the most convincing evidence so far of an ancient streambed.
There was "a vigorous flow on the surface of Mars," said chief scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology. "We’re really excited about this."
The discovery did not come as a complete surprise. NASA decided to plunk Curiosity down inside Gale Crater near the Martian equator because photos from space hinted that the spot possessed a watery past. The six-wheeled rover safely landed Aug. 5 after a nail-biting plunge through the Martian atmosphere. It’s on a two-year, $2.5 billion mission to study whether the Martian environment could have been favorable for microbial life.
Present day Mars is a frozen desert with no hint of water on its radiation-scarred surface, but geological studies of rocks by previous missions suggest the planet was warmer and wetter once upon a time.
The latest evidence came from photos that Curiosity took revealing rounded pebbles and gravel — a sign that the rocks were transported long distances by water and smoothed out.
The size of the rocks — ranging from a sand grain to a golf ball — indicates that they could not have been carried by wind, said mission scientist Rebecca Williams of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz.
Though Curiosity did not use its high-tech instruments to drill into the rocks or analyze their chemical makeup, Grotzinger said scientists were sure that water played a role based on just studying the pictures.
It’s unclear how long the water persisted on the surface, but it easily could have lasted "thousands to millions of years," said mission scientist Bill Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley.
Curiosity chanced upon the dried-up streambed while driving to Glenelg, an intriguing spot where three types of terrain meet. Its ultimate destination is Mount Sharp, a mountain rising from the center of crater floor, but it was not expected to travel there until the end of the year.
Finding past water is a first step toward learning whether the environment could have supported microbes. Scientists generally agree that besides water and an energy source such as the sun, organic carbon is a necessary prerequisite for life.
While an ancient streambed holds promise as a potentially habitable environment, scientists don’t think it’s a good place to preserve the carbon building blocks of life. That’s why the rover will continue its trek to the foothills of Mount Sharp where there’s a better chance of finding organics.
Article from: news.yahoo.com
What Would It Mean If There Used To Be Life on Mars?
Curiosity Finds Pyramid Rocks on Mars
Mystery Spheres on Mars Baffle Scientists
Latest News from our Front Page
Not Again: More US AID, Missiles Shipped to al Qaeda, al Nusra and ISIS in Syria, Iraq
Two weeks ago, 21WIRE reported on how ISIS and other terrorists militants operating in Syria and Iraq are receiving regular weapons and ‘supply drops’ – forming a ‘rat line’ which seems to be playing a crucial role in keeping this highly profitable conflict going on both sides.
This week, it’s been reported that Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters have been brandishing US-supplied ...
Swedish parliament removes Baroque artist's bare breasted painting for offending feminists and Muslims
A nude painting named Juno, which was painted by baroque artist G E Schröder and has hung in the dining room of the Swedish Parliament for 30 years has been taken down for fear of offending the sensitivities of feminists and Muslim visitors, Swedish newspaper, The Local reported on Thursday.
Explaining the ban on the baroque breasts, a source from the ...
White US children will be minorities by 2020 after immigrant 'baby boom', Census reveals
This is the result of an ongoing trend of declining birth among white Americans and a baby boom among immigrant groups, as well as a surge in immigration.
By the year 2020, 50.2percent of all children in the US are expected to be non-white, according to the Census. By 2044, whites will be outnumbered by minorities.
The Census study, released ...
New Jersey Shopkeeper Hangs 'White History Month' Sign In Window
A deli owner in Flemington, New Jersey, has angered many of his neighbors by posting a sign on his window that reads, "Celebrate Your White Heritage in March White History Month."
Jim Boggess, who is the owner of Jimbo's Deli, says he put up the sign to remind everyone that they should be proud of their race and culture.
"No matter what ...
The Viking ”Maine Penny” Mystery
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway ...
|More News » |