to the Venus Express project, DailyTech has been
covering news and information received from the European Space
Agency's Mars Express for the last four years. Launched in June of
2003, the probe made orbital insertion of Mars's near-space in
December of the same year. Its highly eccentric orbit brings it as
close as 300km to the planet, and swings it out as far as 10,100km,
all in the span of seven hours.
the past four years, we've seen Mars Express show possible
locations for past life, numerous
and deep water ice deposits on the planet's south pole, how
volcanic past may have helped shape the planet's current
surface, cooperation between ESA and NASA in relation toNASA's
Phoenix Mars Lander, and evidence of possible life
still existing in the Martian soil.
the ESA released information pertaining to liquid
water that probably once covered at least portions of the planet.
Phyllosilicates, hydrated clay minerals, are a tell-tale sign of
water and the Mars Express orbiter has confirmed several locations
where the mineral still exists on or near the surface.
such site, the Lyot crater, located in the planet's northern
hemisphere, shows many such deposits. This is significant because
until this discovery, only the southern hemisphere of Mars was known
to have been graced by liquid water. The Lyot crater itself is
approximately 210km in diameter and the data returned from the OMEGA
instrument aboard Mars Express and the CRISM instrument aboard NASA's
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows at least 14 sites with
like Lyot are prime locations to search for these signs of past water
as they are often created by high-speed impacts where the impactor
pierces a kilometer or more into Mars's crust. These deep wounds
reveal more data on the planet's ancient past than many others and
make them of particular interest for the Mars Express and Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter teams. In total, 91 impact sites were studied
and no less than nine of these sites have been shown to have
Bibring, principal investigator for the French OMEGA instrument
aboard Mars Express explains of the results from the craters studied,
"they are rich in iron and magnesium, but less in aluminum.
Together with the close proximity of olivine, which is easily
modified by water, this indicates that the exposure to water lasted
only tens to hundreds of millions of years."
this indicates that Mars was once dotted, if not heavily covered in
water, this timeframe is a fraction of the time that oceans have been
lingering on Earth. The chance that any carbon-based life had
developed past its infant stages in that time period are slim, but
not without hope.
quote: billions of years ago Earth was a molten ball because of the incalculable amount of meteor and asteroid impacts.
quote: Finding water on Mars isn't that surprising considering hydrogen and oxygen are so readily abundant
quote: ...observations show a wet past.