Mars rover Curiosity finds signs of ancient stream
2012 09 28

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



Related Articles
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

How Monsanto is Destroying the Brains and Health of Everyone
2014 11 25
Interested in slowing your aging process? Take note! One of my most recent blog entries summarized roughly 10 years of research related to the consequences of inflammatory processes in the periphery of the body, such as the gut, and how this was driving brain degenerative inflammatory processes within the brain. One of the key findings from that research was how pathogenic ...
Guccifer: Pennsylvania City to be Nuked Next Year
2014 11 25
From Youtube: Renowned hacker Guccifer, who accessed the private emails of numerous top military, political and intelligence leaders, told the New York Times that a city in Pennsylvania is the target of a nuke attack in 2015. Guccifer also revealed that he is sitting on an archive of hacked emails that have not been publicly released.
Israeli Police Caught On Video Hosing ‘Skunk Spray’ on Palestinian Elementary Schools and Protesters
2014 11 25
Israeli police in Jerusalem have been caught on video recently spraying East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods with a concoction they call “skunk spray”. The liquid is a mixture of sewage and rotting animal roadkill. The result of the police hosing down neighborhoods, elementary schools and protesters with the mix is a putrid smell that seems almost impossible to get off or be ...
The New Normal: Artist Butchers "Disney Princesses" with Breast Cancer Scars
2014 11 25
Comment: Natural remedies for cancer, like: diet, vitamins, minerals and other supplements are NEVER addressed. Neither are chemicals and wi-fi saturated environment recognized for the rise in these new epidemics. Instead ... what do they do? They normalize it. Like it’s just the new thing you need to do. Change nothing and adapt to these new circumstances of mutilation kids. ...
Gasp, Turkish President Observes Reality: "Women and Men Created Differently"
2014 11 25
Comment: Wow, a politician that manage to observe reality. Shocking and offensive no doubt, I wonder how the pro Muslim Feminists in Scandinavia and the rest of the West will react to this. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off a new controversy on Monday, declaring that women are not equal to men and accusing feminists of not understanding the special ...
More News »