It took NASA a few decades, several probes, and a whole lot of money to find hard evidence for the existence of water on the surface of Mars. But timing is everything. Had the agency been looking for water on the Red Planet a few billion years earlier, all they would've needed was a telescope. A new CU-Boulder analysis of the Martian surface has concluded that a massive ocean covered as much as a third of the planet around 3.5 billion years ago.
Spirit is still stuck in the sand, and Opportunity's future beyond Mars' next solstice is unclear, but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to beam back groundbreaking images from high above the Red Planet. Using images taken from NASA's MRO, researchers at Imperial and University Colleges London have determined that water-filled lakes existed on the Martian surface 800 million years later than previously thought.
After careful analysis, the Phoenix Lander finds Mars's soil is a lot like ours
By Matt RansfordPosted 06.30.2008 at 6:45 am 9 Comments
Now that the glitches caused by the Martian soil's clumpy consistency have been shaken out, the Phoenix Lander has been able to cook up a few samples to test the soil composition. The preliminary results are surprising even to the chemists at work on the project: the soil is alkaline, and much more so than anyone expected. The analysis has found trace amounts of magnesium, sodium, potassium, and other elements similar to those in the soil on Earth. On first pass, Martian dirt appears to be non-toxic and laden with the basic nutrients necessary to support life.