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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 2

Evidence Seen Of Non-Polar Mars Ice

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 12:27:30 +0200
Fwd Date: Tue, 02 Jun 1998 07:28:01 -0400
Subject: Evidence Seen Of Non-Polar Mars Ice

AP May 28 via Newsday. URL:




Evidence Seen of Non-Polar Mars Ice

By SHARON L. LYNCH Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- Profiles of Mars' landscape etched with striking canyons
and spiraling troughs have revealed what scientists believe may be the
first evidence of ice outside the planet's polar ice caps.

Pictures released Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union's meeting
show a crater some 30 miles across with a darker area 12 to 18 miles
wide at the bottom.

The discoloration indicates a deposit of some sort -- maybe frozen mud
or sand, which could indicate ice is present or water once was, said
Mike Malin, a consultant who helped design cameras for the Mars Global

"If you're going to find life anywhere, that's where you're going to
find it. Water is essential for life," Malin said.

But he and other scientists also cautioned that there may be other
explanations for what they think they see in the crater, such as
volcanic activity.

Cracks at the crater's rim, about 2,400 miles south of Mars' equator,
are consistent with something seeping into the giant pit from its edge,
Malin said. That could have been water, ice or lava.

The latest photos are from the Surveyor, a spacecraft orbiting the
planet 108 miles above its surface.

The images have 10 to 12 times better resolution than any previously
taken of the crater scientists are interested in, in part because the
Surveyor is closer to Mars than any orbiting spacecraft has been before.

Surveyor has orbited Mars since last fall, collecting data on 59
separate passes. An altimeter on board is measuring 12,000-foot bulges
in the polar ice cap and channels carved 3,600 feet into its surface.

Also Wednesday, Arizona State University researchers using Surveyor
data said a concentration of a rust-colored mineral along the Mars
equator indicates it once had boiling hydrothermal vents and perhaps
huge lakes.

Geologist Philip Christensen said the hematite, an iron oxide, is the
first clear evidence of widespread thermal activity on Mars.

"The existence and location of these deposits will provide a positive
indication that hot water once existed near the Martian surface,"
Christensen said.

Christensen also said it makes a region of about 300 square miles one
of the best places to look for evidence of life on Mars.

NASA officials said the finding implies water was once stable at or
near the surface and that Mars had a thicker atmosphere in its early
history, probably 4 billion to 6 billion years ago.

Water cannot exist on the Martian surface now because the atmosphere is
too thin, and it would immediately evaporate.

=03AP-NY-05-28-98 0156EDT

Copyright =A9Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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