Thursday, August 20, 2009

NEW EVIDENCE SUPPORTS POSSIBILITY OF LIFE ON MARS



The presence of perchlorates—a naturally occurring salt of perchloric acid—was detected in the polygon-patterned plains of northern Mars.

“No one expected to find perchlorates,” said Dr. John Hoffman, a member of the Phoenix Mars Lander research team and professor of physics at UT Dallas. Hoffman designed and built the spectrometer that definitively confirmed the presence of water on Mars. “It’s not yet been determined how this stuff was formed, but perchlorates store a great deal of energy that could have been a food source for tiny living organisms.”

Hoffman co-authored three articles related to the Martian surface in a recent issue of Science. The research articles examined detection of perchlorates and provided an overview of the Mars water discovery and the discovery of calcium carbonate.

“Discovering what the surface of Mars consists of is particularly fascinating,” Hoffman said. “We found calcium carbonate, or limestone, which precipitates out of water over time. Because we found water, we expected to find calcium carbonate, but the perchlorate was a big surprise. And what it means is that millions, or even a billion years ago, life could have existed on Mars. No one knows for sure at this time, but it’s possible.”

Hoffman said that while Mars is an extremely cold planet today, just a few tens of millions of years ago the planet’s axis of rotation of the planet was quite different. Mars pointed more directly toward the sun during Martian summers, and that could have boosted surface temperatures enough for life to flourish.

(Photo: UT Dallas)

UT Dallas

0 comentarios:

Post a Comment

Followers

Archive

 

Selected Science News. Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Revolution Two Church theme by Brian Gardner Converted into Blogger Template by Bloganol dot com