..and then there are things that remind us that we live in amazing times..

Posted by Ted on Mar 2, 2004 in Space

Liquid water once on Mars

(from CNN)

Mission accomplished.

NASA scientists say the Mars rovers have found what they were looking for — hard evidence that the red planet was once “soaking wet.”

“We have concluded the rocks here were once soaked in liquid water,” said Steve Squyres of Cornell University. He’s the principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit.
[...]
“Three and a half years ago, in July 2000, we were on stage here to talk about sending two rovers to get evidence of past water. NASA and its international partners have turned those dreams to reality,” said Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for space science.

Scientists used instruments on board the golf cart-sized rovers to study the composition of the rocks and soil on the planet. The rocks’ physical appearance, plus the detection of sulfates, make the case for a watery history, and more important, an environment that could have been hospitable to life.
[...]
Spirit and Opportunity were sent to opposite sides of the planet with the possibility of investigating different types of terrain. Spirit, the first rover to arrive on January 3, landed near the Gusev Crater, which may once have held a lake.

But geologists and other researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, were thrilled when they saw the possibilities surrounding Opportunity, which landed three weeks later. It landed inside a small crater in the Meridiani Planum, one of the flattest places on the planet. And its landing site was within driving distance for the spacecraft to reach an exposed slice of bedrock.

Since its landing January 25, Opportunity has used the same tools as a human field geologist would to determine the chemical contents of the rocks. Using an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, a device that can identify chemical elements, scientists have identified a high concentration of sulfur in the bedrock.
[...]
Another instrument on board, a Moessbauer spectrometer, has detected an iron sulfate mineral known as jarosite. From their knowledge of rocks on earth, scientists say rocks with as much salt as this Mars rock either formed in water, or had a long exposure to water after they were formed. The scientists say these rocks could have formed in an acidic lake or even a hot springs.
[...]

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. He is also managing editor for Rolf Potts' Vagabonding, where he curates a Case Study series. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

7 Comments

jencallisto
Mar 2, 2004 at 1:53 pm

woooooooo!
*dance of planetary geologic joy*


 
kimberlogic
Mar 2, 2004 at 2:59 pm

Amazing news, isn’t it! I shared it with you as soon as I read about it! WOW!

:)


 
bluepapercup
Mar 2, 2004 at 5:51 pm

*does cartwheels of geologic squee!*

and now, in yet another unrelated music comment, I am going to tell you that The Church is playing at the Paradise on March 9th. I think some people should go!


 
marmota
Mar 2, 2004 at 7:53 pm

Re: Amazing Times


Dork Tower, Thursday, February 19, 2004


 
Ted
Mar 3, 2004 at 4:05 am

The Church is playing at the Paradise on March 9th.

omg! a temptress, you are!

hmm..

damn :)

I wonder how much..


 
Ted
Mar 3, 2004 at 7:58 am

I wonder how much..

$15 apparently.. tempting..


 
bluepapercup
Mar 3, 2004 at 11:56 am

I found it here, though


 

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