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Saturday, June 9, 2007



Liquid Water on the Surface

Smooth bluish areas on a Martian crater floor could be ponds, according to two scientists. The area is approximately 1 square metre
Smooth bluish areas on a Martian crater floor could be ponds, according to two scientists. The area is approximately 1 square metre
Credit: Ron Levin
A two year old picture from Opportunity shows what is thought to be a pond of liquid water. A new analysis of the image brought to the attention of researchers what appeared to be water. This claim;however, is controversial, as the ambient temperature and low pressure are not conducive to the formation of liquid water. "The temperatures get plenty warm enough, but the Mars atmosphere is essentially a vacuum," says Phil Christensen of Arizona State University. He adds, "it is theoretically possible to get liquid water within soil, or under other very special conditions". The specificness of those conditions is much debated. Also, "[t]he problem is, there are winds on Mars… In the real world, I think it's virtually impossible [to have the windless condition that would facilitate liquid water's precence]," he said. Physicist Ron Levin, the lead author in the report of the image of water, works in advanced image processing at Lockheed Martin. Stereoscopic reconstructions showed areas that were so flat, the algorithm used to line up the stereo images failed to find features to line up. The blueish area appears to be at the lowest part of the terrain. "The surface is incredibly smooth, and the edges are in a plane and all at the same altitude," Levin says. "If they were ice or some other material, they'd show wear and tear over the surface, there would be rubble or sand or something."

(More info: New Scientist)


- posted by Jim @ 19:41 EST