Monday, May 12, 2008

Ancient Martian Waters

 Ancient canals      "Aram Chaos" basin

About 4.6 billion years ago, Mars was still quite young, as was Earth, and all kinds of large objects were smashing into other objects.  A huge asteroid 175 miles wide crashed into Mars and left a basin now called Aram Chaos.

              Sand dunes blowing over polar ice

As hundreds of millions of years passed, alot of space debris floated into this basin - volcanic ash, windblown dust, ash.  The Martian climate was wetter then, and this crater filled with water which likely froze as the climate shifted and cooled, just like on Earth.

               Channels carved by ancient floods

Then something triggered the ground ice to melt.  Perhaps it was residual trapped heat from the impact, or most likely, molten rock moved into the fractured ground below the basin.  Whatever happened, the ground-ice melted and in a geological instant, a chaotic network of valleys, hills and mesas were formed in Aram.  Surging flood-waters on Mars carved many narrow channels. 

      Winds shifting in dunes   Lava channels

A dramatic story gets more so:  The existence of water and underground oceans on Mars has been proven accurate, yet what else could this reveal?  In the deposits found in Aram Chaos, NASA has been examining layers of sediment.  Data taken with TES (Thermal Emmission Spectrometer) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor Orbiter revealed a widespread expanse in Aram of an iron-oxide mineral called hermatite.  Hermatite forms in conjuction with water, which has caught the attention of scientists looking into the existence of past life on Mars, which seems almost a certainty, in some microbial form.  

            Another crater where water-minerals found

One of our Mars rovers, Opportunity, was sent to this basin area, and is relaying evidence of sulfate deposits, a great deal of them - more water-related minerals.

                  Where water once flowed abundant

Escaping meltwater is a fairly common process on Mars.  More evidence for ancient waters.  What this means about the kind of life we envision Mars once nourished is only limited by your imagination .....

               Fossils??!!?? 

 

     

 

  

  

9 comments:

pamal3 said...

Oh! My starlady, you have enriched me with this information. So Interesting. Love Pam xx

attitudeslc said...

When are we building our house there?  I can see where we can put a garden!  Will the bees come?

~Rosemary

valphish said...

Wow, fascinating!  Love, your Maire xox
http://journals.aol.com/valphish/ThereisaSeason

sunnyside46 said...

wow
you always make me think
OWW#
LOL
Marti
http://journals.aol.com/sunnyside46/MidlifeMusings/

wwfbison said...

I have a very active imagination when it comes to what life forms other planets may hold or have held.  I surely hope if "we" can ever make life on other planets we don't begin to destroy them as we did our own.
xx
Lisa

lanurseprn said...

I always learn from you!
Pam xoxox

daddyleer said...

"Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink." The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ... Certainly those overperforming rovers deserve their credit but let us not forget the appropriately named Mariner missions of the 70's which showed us the first ever pictures of ancient riverbeads. We have been voyeurs of Mars for quite awhile. <grin>

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick
http://journals.aol.com/daddyleer/CaregivinglyYours/

http://lairofcachalot.blogspot.com/

swmpgrly said...

very educational

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