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  • Posted December 16, 2013 by
    mahendradash
    Location
    India

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    Ancient Fresh water in Mars

     
    The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has discovered water vapour erupting from the frigid surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, in one or more localised plumes near its south pole.

    Scientists have found evidence that there was once an ancient lake on Mars that may have been able to support life, in research published today in the journal Science.
    http://phys.org/openx/www/delivery/lg.php?bannerid=301&campaignid=160&zoneid=64&loc=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fphys.org%2Fnews%2F2013-12-ancient-fresh-lake-mars-sustained.html%23nwlt&cb=01fe359432
    A team of researchers from NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover mission, which includes a researcher from Imperial College London, have analysed a set of sedimentary rock outcrops at a site named Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater, near the Martian equator. These mudstones have revealed that Gale Crater, a 150 km wide impact basin with a mountain at its centre, sustained at least one lake around 3.6 billion years ago.
    The scientists believe that the lake may have lasted for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.
    The team's analysis showed that the lake was calm and likely had fresh water, containing key biological elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur. Such a lake would provide perfect conditions for simple microbial life such as chemolithoautotrophs to thrive in.
    On Earth, chemolithoautotrophs are commonly found in caves and around hydrothermal vents. The microbes break down rocks and minerals for energy.
    Mudstones generally form in calm conditions. They are created by very fine sediment grains settling layer-by-layer on each other, in still water.

    Professor Sanjeev Gupta, a member of the MSL mission from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London and a co-author on the papers, says: "It is important to note that we have not found signs of ancient life on Mars. What we have found is that Gale Crater was able to sustain a lake on its surface at least once in its ancient past that may have been favourable for microbial life, billions of years ago. This is a huge positive step for the exploration of Mars.
    "It is exciting to think that billions of years ago, ancient microbial life may have existed in the lake's calm waters, converting a rich array of elements into energy. The next phase of the mission, where we will be exploring more rocky outcrops on the crater's surface, could hold the key whether life did exist on the red planet."
    In previous studies, Professor Gupta and the MSL team have found evidence of water on Mars' surface in other rocks such as conglomerates. However, the new research provides the strongest evidence yet that Mars could have been habitable enough for life to take hold.

    Sources:Phys.org

    Name: Mahendra Dash
    Associated with Asianet,PR news wire,Business wire & Bloomberg
    Kolkata Area
    India
    918967541858

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