Feeds

NASA finds Mars slightly less inhospitable

There was life, maybe. In one bit. A really long time ago

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

NASA boffins believe they have found evidence suggesting that Mars may not have been barren and lifeless for its entire history.

"We have found evidence that not all of Mars experienced an intense, acidic weathering environment 3.5 billion years ago, as has been proposed," said Bethany Ehlmann of Brown University. "We've found at least one region that was potentially more hospitable to life."

Ehlmann is one of the scientists analysing data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) above the Red Planet. In this case, the information comes from an instrument on the orbiter called CRISM, the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars.

Some scientists had theorised that Mars has had a highly acidic environment for the last three billion years and more, meaning that life would have had a hard time coming into being. But now Ehlmann and her colleagues have used CRISM pictures to detect carbonate minerals in the neighbourhood of the Isidis crater.

If Mars had been acidic and lifeless for billions of years, as had been thought, these carbonates should have dissolved long ago. As the NASA boffins see it, their presence now means that there must have been watery environments present in the past, which would have been much more likely to sustain life. If there was any.

Truly massive amounts of carbonate would indicate that Mars once had a much thicker atmosphere, according to the scientists, but they don't think their finds are in that league.

"The carbonates that CRISM has observed are regional rather than global in nature," says Ehlmann.

"We have not found the types of carbonate deposits which might have trapped an ancient atmosphere."

According to NASA, the newly-mapped carbonate deposits could indicate places where future landers and rovers might profitably be sent to seek evidence of past life on Mars. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?