lunes, 2 de marzo de 2009

Mars water find is key to life

MARS had water running on its surface less than a million years ago – increasing the chances of life existing on the planet in the recent past.

Scientists have identified gullies inside a crater that appear to be not more than 1.25million-years-old.

The discovery increases the possibility of life existing on Mars or even surviving today.

Mars experts believe the channels must have been sculpted by surface water from melting ice.

Professor James Head, from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, US, who with colleagues reported on the discovery today in the journal Geology, said: “We think there was recent water on Mars. This is a big step in the direction to proving that.”

The gully system is in Promethal Terra, an area of cratered highlands south of the Martian equator.

A powerful camera on the American space agency Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft was able to distinguish four individual gullies.

One was pockmarked with small craters linked to another crater 80kms away known to be 1.25million-years-old.

This gully was likely to be about the same age.

Scientists believe the best explanation for the gullies is melting snow and ice rather than groundwater bubbling up to the surface.

The finding follows discoveries of water-bearing minerals such as opals and carbonates on Mars.

Experts now think the planet was occasionally wet for far longer than was previously believed.

Fuente: The Sun

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