Showing posts from December, 2014

NASA, Planetary Scientists Find Meteoritic Evidence of Mars Water Reservoir

Source:  NASA RELEASE 14-337 Excerpt: NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface. Though controversy still surrounds the origin, abundance and history of water on Mars, this discovery helps resolve the question of where the “missing Martian water” may have gone. ...These findings can be viewed online in their entirety at:

Comet Data Clears Up Debate on Earth’s Water

Source:   By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times Excerpt: One of the first scientific findings to emerge from close-up study of a comet has all but settled a question that planetary scientists have debated for decades. The new finding, from the European Space Agency’s mission to the little duck-shaped comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, appears to eliminate the possibility that the water in Earth’s oceans came from melted comets. Water vapor streaming off the comet contains a higher fraction of “heavy hydrogen” than the water on Earth does, scientists reported on Wednesday. “That now probably rules out” comets as the primary source of terrestrial water, said Kathrin Altwegg, a scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland and the principal investigator for the Rosetta instrument that made the measurements. With comets unlikely, most astronomers now think Earth’s water came from asteroids. ...The new findings, published in the journal Science, came after Rosetta arrived at Com

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Clues to How Water Helped Shape Martian Landscape

Source:  NASA RELEASE 14-326 Excerpt: Observations by NASA’s Curiosity Rover indicate Mars' Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years.mThis interpretation of Curiosity’s finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet. "If our hypothesis for Mount Sharp holds up, it challenges the notion that warm and wet conditions were transient, local, or only underground on Mars,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “A more radical explanation is that Mars' ancient, thicker atmosphere raised temperatures above freezing globally, but so far we don't know how the atmosphere did that." ..."We are making headway in solving the mystery of Mount Sharp," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technolo

Mars Rover Finds Stronger Potential for Life.

Source:   By Marc Kaufman, The New York Times. Excerpt: For lifeless chemical compounds to organize themselves into something alive, scientists generally agree, three sets of things must be present: ■ Standing water and an energy source. ■ Five basic elements: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus and nitrogen. ■ And time, lots of time. In its search for environments where life might have started on Mars, the Curiosity rover has found the standing water, the energy and the key elements with the right atomic charges. As a result, scientists have concluded that at least some of the planet must have been habitable long ago. But the period when all conditions were right was counted in hundreds to thousands of years, a very small opening by origin-of-life standards....

28 Months on Mars

Source:   The New York Times. Excerpt: NASA’s Curiosity rover has explored Gale Crater for 833 Martian days, or Sols. And it has found evidence, written in red rocks and sand, of lakes and streams on a warmer, wetter, habitable Mars....