Archives par mot-clé : Mars

Mars: Oxygen-rich, life-supporting liquid water?

by California Institute of Technology, October 22, 2018 in ScienceDaily

A team led by scientists at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which Caltech manages for NASA, has calculated that if liquid water exists on Mars, it could — under specific conditions — contain more oxygen than previously thought possible. According to the model, the levels could even theoretically exceed the threshold needed to support simple aerobic life.

That finding runs contrary to the current, accepted view of Mars and its potential for hosting habitable environments. The existence of liquid water on Mars is not a given. Even if it is there, researchers have long dismissed the idea that it might be oxygenated, given that Mars’s atmosphere is about 160 times thinner than that of Earth and is mostly carbon dioxide.

Ancient Mars had right conditions for underground life, new research suggests

by Brown University, September 24, 2018 in ScienceDaily/EPSL

A new study shows evidence that ancient Mars probably had an ample supply of chemical energy for microbes to thrive underground.

“We showed, based on basic physics and chemistry calculations, that the ancient Martian subsurface likely had enough dissolved hydrogen to power a global subsurface biosphere,” said Jesse Tarnas, a graduate student at Brown University and lead author of a study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. “Conditions in this habitable zone would have been similar to places on Earth where underground life exists.”

New research shows that ancient Mars likely had ample chemical energy to support the kinds of underground microbial colonies that exist on Earth.
Credit: NASA / JPL

The Medusae Fossae Formation as the single largest source of dust on Mars

by L. Ojha et al., July 20, 2018 in NatureCommunications (open access)

Transport of fine-grained dust is one of the most widespread sedimentary processes occurring on Mars today. In the present climate, eolian abrasion and deflation of rocks are likely the most pervasive and active dust-forming mechanism. Martian dust is globally enriched in S and Cl and has a distinct mean S:Cl ratio. Here we identify a potential source region for Martian dust based on analysis of elemental abundance data …

Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars

by Geological Society of America and in Geology, April 19,2018 in ScienceDaily

.pdf of the article

In early 2017 scientists announced the discovery of possible desiccation cracks in Gale Crater, which was filled by lakes 3.5 billion years ago. Now, a new study has confirmed that these features are indeed desiccation cracks, and reveals fresh details about Mars’ ancient climate.

“We are now confident that these are mudcracks,” explains lead author Nathaniel Stein, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Since desiccation mudcracks form only where wet sediment is exposed to air, their position closer to the center of the ancient lake bed rather than the edge also suggests that lake levels rose and fell dramatically over time.