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Tracks left by Spirit -- Image courtesy of NASA
Findings collected by the Mars rover Spirit gets scientists excited for what other secrets the Red Planet may hide

Scientists have conducted a lot of research to discover signs of water and possible life on Mars.  A recent discovery by a NASA rover has created excitement in the scientific community: the Mars rover Spirit collected soil samples that makes scientists strongly believe Mars was once wet. 

The rover found some Martian soil with high levels of silica, which needs water to crystalize.  Basic chemical analysis on the soil revealed the soil composition contained up to 90 percent silica.  This soil, located in Gusev Crater, is the strongest evidence that water, at some point in the planet's history, existed.

Scientists are unsure how the silica deposit in the crater originally formed.  The most likely theory is that soil mixed with acid vapors, created by volcanic activity, along with a strong presence of water.  Another popular idea is that the silica was created from water from a hot spring.

Spirit's discovery "reinforces the fact that significant amounts of water were present in Mars' past, which continues to spur the hope that we can show that Mars was once habitable and possibly supported life," said Doug McCuistion, NASA Mars exploration program director.

Oddly enough, the silica discovery happened due to a Spirit mechanical problem.  The bright patches of silica-rich soil were discovered when one of the rover's wheels dragged through the topsoil, revealing the bright colored silica-soil underneath.

Scientists are anxious to continue their research to discover what else is on the Red Planet.  Research indicates ice under the Martian surface varies in depth from location to location.
Late last year, NASA researchers used the Mars Global Surveyor to discover water flowed recently on the Red Planet.

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Comet collision and water/ice
By TennesseeTony on 5/22/2007 4:40:52 PM , Rating: 3
I vote that the WATER most likely came from an impact, as this IS a crater, with a Comet, which is widely accepted to be a dirty snowball.

As for the poster who thinks the polar ice caps are ice, you are right, but it is not WATER ice. It is frozen carbon dioxide, Dry Ice.

Your keyboard is not equipped with a brain, so please use yours. :)

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By cochy on 5/22/2007 4:57:33 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to agree with you. I just read the wiki on silica and not once did it mention water anywhere in the article

Silicon dioxide is formed when silicon is exposed to oxygen (or air)

It also mentioned silica can be found in meteor craters.

...So ya.

I know there's oxygen in water, but water isn't the only place oxygen can be found.

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By cochy on 5/22/2007 4:59:28 PM , Rating: 2
woops I'm half agreeing with you. I agree it was formed as a result of an impact, but not necessarily due to the presence of any water.

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By Ringold on 5/22/2007 6:15:17 PM , Rating: 3
It makes up only .13% of the atmosphere, so water would be much more convenient. I dont see the controvery; water fits as well as anything (especially the older the area is, as Mars was much warmer before it bled much of its atmosphere off in to space due to weak gravity and magnetic field), and it would just be evidence of water, not dinosaurs.

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By cocoman on 5/23/2007 4:28:33 PM , Rating: 2
Actually scientist don´t use the word Dry Ice to describe carbon dioxide in a solid state. It IS water H2O on a solid state, also calle ice. And we allready know there is water on mars (on a solid state). There is a european satellite in orbit that detects water. And guess what. It discovered it in Mars, there is even a map wich describes the location of it and there is a lot of it. Why do we know it is ice? Becuase temperature in Mars is way lower than freezing temperature.

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