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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Study Finds Recent Liquid Water

Southern polar cap of Mars.
Southern polar cap of Mars.
A study published in the journal Nature by a geologist from Arizona State University contains an intriguing new theory: liquid water has flowed on Mars in the past 500,000 years -- much more recent than commonly thought.

"Our thinking was all of the water activity on Mars had occurred really early and today it's cold and frozen. But then these pictures came down and we said `Whoa, liquid water is flowing in really recent times,'" Christensen said. "It's an active process, this isn't a dead process. It isn't a dead planet."

The theory is based on known variations in the martian axial tilt. According to the theory, within extremely recent geological timescales Mars has had liquid water flowing on the surface. If this is true, it maybe that life flourished during that time period, evidence of which we would be able to find by examining snow drifts near the equator.

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- posted by Brian @ 16:17 EST