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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Salty Water and Life

An ancient sea shore.
An ancient sea shore.
Credit: NASA/JPL
"We think Opportunity is parked on what was once the shoreline of a salty sea on Mars," said Steve Squyres. He added that "we have an environment that's suitable for life." The rocks they found were most likely formed in salt water, but the extent or age of the sea are unknown. Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science, said the result "gives us impetus to expand our ambitious program of exploring Mars to learn whether microbes have ever lived there and, ultimately, whether we can." NASA added that the results were checked by multiple 3rd party experts before it announced the finding. "Bedding patterns in some finely layered rocks indicate the sand-sized grains of sediment that eventually bonded together were shaped into ripples by water at least five centimeters (two inches) deep, possibly much deeper, and flowing at a speed of 10 to 50 centimeters (4-20 inches) per second," said John Grotzinger of MIT. "Someday we must collect these rocks and bring them back to terrestrial laboratories to read their records for clues to the biological potential of Mars," Jame Garvin, a leading scientist for Mars and lunar exploration, said.

(More info: Yahoo)

- posted by Jim @ 19:07 EST