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#1 2007-12-13 08:53:35

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: MER Spirit finds niche for life

Mars Rover Investigates Signs of Steamy Martian Past - 10 Dec 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - Researchers using NASA's twin Mars rovers are sorting out two possible origins for one of Spirit's most important discoveries, while also getting Spirit to a favorable spot for surviving the next Martian winter.

The puzzle is what produced a patch of nearly pure silica -- the main ingredient of window glass -- that Spirit found last May. It could have come from either a hot-spring environment or an environment called a fumarole, in which acidic steam rises through cracks. On Earth, both of these types of settings teem with microbial life.

"Whichever of those conditions produced it, this concentration of silica is probably the most significant discovery by Spirit for revealing a habitable niche that existed on Mars in the past," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the rovers' science payload. "The evidence is pointing most strongly toward fumarolic conditions, like you might see in Hawaii and in Iceland. Compared with deposits formed at hot springs, we know less about how well fumarolic deposits can preserve microbial fossils. That's something needing more study here on Earth."


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#2 2007-12-20 17:43:14

MarsRefresh
Banned
From: Spokane, WA, USA
Registered: 2007-11-19
Posts: 48

Re: MER Spirit finds niche for life

Yes, this is an exciting find in many ways. I think Gusev may be a great candidate for the sample return mission. Do we have SHARAD radar returns for Gusev that would reveal anything about these features?

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#3 2008-02-17 02:39:50

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: MER Spirit finds niche for life

Mars Rovers Sharpen Questions About Livable Conditions - 15 Feb 2008

Experiments with simulated Martian conditions and computer modeling are helping researchers refine earlier assessments of whether the long-ago conditions in the Meridiani area studied by Opportunity would have been hospitable to microbes. Chances look slimmer. "At first, we focused on acidity, because the environment would have been very acidic," Knoll said. "Now, we also appreciate the high salinity of the water when it left behind the minerals Opportunity found. This tightens the noose on the possibility of life."

Conditions may have been more hospitable earlier, with water less briny, but later conditions at Meridiani and elsewhere on the surface of Mars appear to have been less hospitable, Knoll said. "Life at the Martian surface would have been very challenging for the last 4 billion years. The best hopes for a story of life on Mars are at environments we haven't studied yet -- older ones, subsurface ones," he said.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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