Mars Research Page
Recent data from Mars confirms the planet's lack of substantial water, further dampening any hopes of finding non-terrestrial life. ESA's Mars Express satellite (OMEGA) has mapped the mineralogical structure of more than 90% of Mars' surface. This satellite is particularly suited to detecting minerals containing or significantly altered by water. Analysis of the OMEGA data reveals no substantial water activity on Mars for the last 3.5 billion years. Only in the very oldest terrains are there any signs of mineralogical alteration by liquid water. However, this time period corresponds to the solar system's most inhospitable era, when frequent sterilizing asteroidal and cometary impacts pummeled the inner rocky planets. For the naturalistic perspective, the prospect an environment on Mars conducive to life continues to grow more and more bleak. See "No Warm, Wet Model For Mars Life" below.
Science after the hype speaks to major origin of life setback. The prestigious journal Science has now published the first professional peer review papers on the findings of the rovers Opportunity and Spirit. Planet wide 300 mph abrasing dust storms with large sand grains and up to 50 percent sun light blockage. No active chemistry. Small amounts of liquid water 3.8 billion years ago and a cold dry state since. Sulfuric acid emissions from volcanoes; a virtual volcanic surface...... just some of the findings.
With all the hype about Mars, the methane measurements and the use of that data as evidence for life needs to be addressed (Detection of Methane in the Martian Atmosphere: Evidence for Life?" Icarus (2004). A team of astrochemists claimed that their detection of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere indicates the existence of methanogens (methane-producing bacteria) on or below the Mars surface. For a variety of reasons most experts on Mars remain skeptical. The methane was found at three locations only and only in extremely small quantities (ten parts per billion). The three locations all have stores of ice below the surface. Since that ice most likely came from comets, then methane, a common comet constituent, would reside there too. Alternately, the methane could come from volcanic activity or from rocks deep in the Martian crust being squeezed together. Thus, the conclusion that the tiny amounts of methane found in a few exotic regions on Mars establishes that life exists there appears unwarranted. Thanks to Reasons To Believe
Found on Mars and fancifully called blueberries although they are only the size of BBs and more gray than blue, these spherules lie embedded in outcrop rocks and scattered over some areas of soil inside the small craters where Opportunity has been working.
Jun 17, 2004 - NASA scientists coined the term "blueberries" to describe the tiny hematite balls found on Mars by Spirit and Opportunity - it was one of the most powerful pieces of evidence that liquid water once flowed across the surface of Mars. Researchers from the University of Utah had a hunch these hematite concretions would turn up on the Red Planet, since there are similar conditions in Utah's national parks. The geologists believe the blueberries on Earth were formed 25 million years ago when minerals precipitated from groundwater flowing through sandstone.
First the orbiters, then the Spirit and Opportunity rovers have found the mineral silicate olivine in the soil of Mars.
Is Gusev Crater one big basalt flow, not a lakebed like they think?
Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, now traveling on the surface of Mars, are exploring a geography drier than the driest desert on Earth.
A group of physics-inclined planetary scientists have proposed a model that appears to account for what is seen on Mars today
Updated July 28, 2006