Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Does Proof of 'Ancient Oceans' on Mars Ensure That Life Once Existed There?

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Mars Express Spacecraft's MARSIS

Signs of Ancient Ocean on Mars Spotted by European Spacecraft

By SPACE.com

     A European spacecraft orbiting Mars has found more revealing evidence that an ocean may have covered parts of the Red Planet billions of years ago.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft detected sediments on Mars' northern plains that are reminiscent of an ocean floor, in a region that has also previously been identified as the site of ancient Martian shorelines, the researchers said.

"We interpret these as sedimentary deposits, maybe ice-rich," study leader Jérémie Mouginot, of the Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG) in France and the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement. "It is a strong new indication that there was once an ocean here."

As part of its mission, Mars Express uses a radar instrument, called MARSIS, to probe beneath the Martian surface and search for liquid and solid water in the upper portions of the planet's crust. . . .

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