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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Possible Deltas Found on Mars

A possible delta on Mars
A possible delta on Mars
Credit: NASA
Mars Global Surveyor has returned images that look surprisingly like deltas at the end of rivers, which are caused by sedimentary deposits. The images also show meanders, series of S-shaped curves of a stream caused by sedimentary deposits and changing gradients. "Meanders are key, unequivocal evidence that some valleys on early Mars held persistent flows of water over considerable periods of time," said Dr. Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, the operator of the MGS's cameras. The fan is 13 by 11 km's in size. "This latest discovery by the intrepid Mars Global Surveyor is our first definitive evidence of persistent surface water," said Dr. Jim Garvin, NASA's Lead Scientist for Mars Exploration. "It reaffirms we are on the right pathway for searching the record of Martian landscapes and eventually rocks for the record of habitats. Such localities may serve as key landing sites for future missions, such as the Mars Science Laboratory in 2009. These astounding findings suggest that 'following the water' with Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and soon with the Mars Exploration Rovers, is a powerful approach that will ultimately allow us to understand the history of habitats on the red planet." As of now, no liquid water has been found on the surface, but recent findings have suggested that there is a strong possibility for subsurface water and ice.

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- posted by Jim @ 10:00 EST