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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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RE: Hmmm
By cocoman on 5/23/2007 4:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have never ever read something like this. And I read a lot about astronomy and space in general. Explaining water on Europa (the moon of jupiter that has water) and meteorite showers by the explotion of a planet is just ridiculous. Water can be explained the same way there is water on Earth. Not because of some misterious missing planet. And meteorite showers happen because there is a meteor belt in the solar system and every time we cross that part of the system, which happens every year at the same time (that is why we can predict them), we have meteorite showers. The explanaition for them is no misterious planet that exploded.

RE: Hmmm
By Jonahdaily on 5/24/2007 4:59:44 AM , Rating: 2
I see more and more that people are getting so used to believe just everything the popular media dishes out and that becomes their standard by which they judge everything else. When anybody questions that, they are branded immediately without even considdering their point of view for a second, well maybe for two seconds.

This theory is not that new, but does contradict other theories. Remember that all of these theories, including this one, are just that, theories! Even when we talk about facts we are talking about interpreted evidence.

When I talk about this, I will use words like "could have been." People today just say "it happended like this and that..."

This theory is plausable and could give us great insight into where the asteroid belt comes from and where comets come from. Mars is the most unusual of our solid planets. The craters and canyons baffle scientists seriously. There is even sediment layers in the canyon walls. Many might think it took millions of years to build up. If there was a catastrophy, this sedimentation could collect in a very short time. The canyon has also shown to have formed in a short time, like Dry Falls.

We still have the problem of Mars' craters that looked like they were made in mud.

Traces of Sodium were found in a tail of a comet which could indicate that it originated from an ocean much like ours. Ofcourse this is not conclusive evidence but I think the theory is worth investigating. Do not just slam it. Proper science exhausts a theory to the full extent before discarding it.

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