Fwd = Plenty of Water on Mars
- Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
Original Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 07:17:28 -0700
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Plenty of Water on Mars
Splash marks on Mars? UCF researcher says they show there is water and
ice on the red planet.
by Susan Loden
Orlando - August 31, 2001
When we make it to Mars, there's an excellent chance that we will find
a vast, easy-access watering hole to help sustain life on the Red
This ice-crusted reservoir was found by Nadine Barlow, director of
UCF's Robinson Observatory, and her partners John Koroshetz, a former
UCF physics undergraduate student, and James Dohm, a research
associate with the University of Arizona's Department of Hydrology and
Barlow's use of impact craters to identify a near-surface ice
reservoir south of the big canyon system Valles Marineris on Mars is
outlined in the Aug. 15 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
"This ice is closer to the surface in the Solis Planum area than ice
elsewhere in the equatorial region and our analysis also suggests that
an extensive liquid water reservoir underlies this shallow ice
deposit" Barlow says.
"We believe that nearby, long-term volcanic activity has concentrated
the volatiles in this region, due to various episodes of uplifting and
tilting of the groundwater table. Heating associated with the
volcanism has also kept the water liquid for longer time periods,"
The team poured over Mars surface images from two 1970s-era Viking
Orbiters, taking a closer look at the smooth plains of Solis Planum
which is pocked with craters formed by meteorite impact. They
evaluated crater shapes and the ejecta deposits thrown from the
craters when they were created.
The locations and diameters of hundreds of craters were evaluated,
mapped and cataloged. Excavation depths of the craters were obtained
from the crater diameters using relationships derived from the laser
altimeter data taken by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft,
which has been orbiting Mars since 1997. More analysis of this area is
continuing with the MGS Mars Orbiter Camera data.
The character of craters and deposits is believed to indicate what
might be beneath the surface. In particular, the fluidized appearance
of ejecta deposits surrounding fresh impact craters on Mars is
commonly believed to indicate impact into subsurface ice and or water.
Barlow believes ice and water are just below the surface in the Solis
and Thaumasia Planae region. The tip-off is smaller than average
onset- diameters for single-layer craters, strongly suggesting a
supply of ice about 360 feet from the surface there, compared to
approximately 650 feet elsewhere in the equatorial region.
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