Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In Search For Water On Mars, Clues From Antarctica

Date:
December 11, 2007
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Scientists have gathered more evidence that suggests flowing water on Mars -- by comparing images of the red planet to an otherworldly landscape on Earth. In recent years, scientists have examined images of several sites on Mars where water appears to have flowed to the surface and left behind a trail of sediment. Those sites closely resemble places where water flows today in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica , the new study has found.

Partially frozen Lake Hoare, located in Taylor Valley -- one of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica.
Credit: Photo by Earle M. Holland, courtesy of Ohio State University.

Scientists have gathered more evidence that suggests flowing water on Mars -- by comparing images of the red planet to an otherworldly landscape on Earth.

In recent years, scientists have examined images of several sites on Mars where water appears to have flowed to the surface and left behind a trail of sediment. Those sites closely resemble places where water flows today in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, the new study has found.

The new study bolsters the notion that liquid water could be flowing beneath the surface of Mars. And since bacteria thrive in the liquid water flowing in the Dry Valleys, the find suggests that bacterial life could possibly exist on Mars as well.

Researchers have used the Dry Valleys as an analogy for Mars for 30 years, explained Berry Lyons, professor of earth sciences and director of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.

Lyons is lead principal investigator for the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, a collaboration of more than 1,800 scientists who study the ecology of sites around the world.

One of the LTER sites is in the Dry Valleys, a polar desert in Antarctica with year-round saltwater flowing beneath the surface. With temperatures that dip as low as negative 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it's as cold as the Martian equator, and its iron-rich soil gives it a similar red color.

“If you looked at pictures of both landscapes side by side, you couldn't tell them apart,” Lyons said.

In the new study, LTER scientists did just that -- they compared images of water flows in the Dry Valleys to images of gullies on Mars that show possible evidence of recent water flow.

Team member Peter Doran of the University of Illinois at Chicago presented the results Tuesday, December 11, 2007, at the American Geophysical Union meeting at San Francisco .

The scientists' conclusion: the Martian sites closely resemble sites in the Dry Valleys where water has seeped to the surface.

The water in the Dry Valleys can be very salty -- it's full of calcium chloride, the same kind of salt we sprinkle on roadways to melt ice. That's why the water doesn't freeze. Natural springs form from melted ground ice or buried glacier ice, and the saltwater percolates to the surface.

“Even in the dead of winter, there are locations with salty water in the Dry Valleys ,” Lyons said. “Two months a year, we even have lakes of liquid water covered in ice.”

But after the water reaches the surface, it evaporates, leaving behind salt and sediment.

The same thing would happen on Mars, he added.

Because the suspected sediment sites on Mars closely resemble known sediment sites in the Dry Valleys, Lyons and his colleagues think that liquid saltwater is likely flowing beneath the Martian surface.

Lyons, who has led many expeditions to Antarctica, said that his team will continue to compare what they learn on Earth to any new evidence of water uncovered on Mars.

As they walk across the Dry Valleys, they can't help but compare the two.

“There's just something about that landscape, about being so far from civilization, that makes you think about other worlds,” he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "In Search For Water On Mars, Clues From Antarctica." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210094326.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2007, December 11). In Search For Water On Mars, Clues From Antarctica. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210094326.htm
Ohio State University. "In Search For Water On Mars, Clues From Antarctica." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210094326.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins