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Old 03-10-13, 19:30   #1
 
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Update Incredible New Pics & Info Discovered on Mars

Dark Canyons, Black Dunes and Spiralling Whirlwinds: Satellite Images Reveal Mars' Incredible and Varied Landscape

  • Images compiled by Paris-based Xavier Barral in his book ‘This is Mars’
  • They were taken by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2006
  • Each image maintains consistent point of view covering a 6km wide area
By Daily Mail, 3 October 2013


A journey through Mars’ impressive landscape has been made possible through a series of incredible images that reveal its surface in unprecedented detail.
The images allow you to plummet into the breathtaking depths of its darkest canyons, float over its black dunes and revel in the beauty of the red planet’s spiralling whirlwinds.

They were taken by Nasa’s observation satellite Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and provide a previously unseen vision of Mars, whose landscape has been taking shape for more than three billion years.




Since 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been charting the red planet's terrain. This image shows defrosting of the crests of 'Inca City'.
This is the informal name given to a set of intersecting ridges that are located among the layered materials of the south polar region of Mars.
Their origin has never been understood



Since its arrival in orbit in 2006, MRO and its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) telescope have been mapping the martian surface.

The HiRISE team released preliminary, black-and-white images in March of that year, and have since collected hundreds more.

Now Xavier Barral has compiled a selection of these in his book ‘This is Mars’ which is designed to be a visual atlas of the red planet.





Black-sand dunes on the floor of Mars' crater have been formed from cooled lava rock.
This is one of the first sand dune fields ever recognised on Mars. In winter, these dunes are covered by frost and CO2 ice




The circular depressions, swirls and cliffs shown here are created by frozen CO2 on Mars evaporating into gas.
The sun's sharp angle provides the energy that drives this process


As Francis Rocard, manager of Solar System Exploration at CNES Space Observatory points out: ‘Along with Earth, Mars is the planet whose history is the most rich and diverse.’
In order to best capture the geological and mineralogical contours of this mythical planet, the team decided to maintain a consistent point of view, with each photograph covering a 6-km wide strip.

Highlights include defrosting of the crests of ‘Inca City’- the informal name given by Mariner 9 scientists in 1972 to a set of intersecting, rectilinear ridges on the south polar region of Mars.

Their origin on Mars has never been understood, but seems to be linked to volcanic dykes.





An impact crater reveals the layers of the Plateau Mawrth Vallis on the red planet. These layers are composed of clay minerals formed by the transformation of liquid water, providing evidence of Mars's ancient, humid past




Cuts into Mars' south pole sedimentary layer reveal that the area was made up of water ice, rather than frozen CO2.
The cuts were made due to dramatic changes in temperature which can vary by as much as 100° C


A further image reveals black-sand dunes on the floor of Mars’ crater which have been formed from cooled lava rock.
The image shows one of the first sand dune fields ever recognised on Mars. In winter, these dunes are covered by frost and CO2 ice and deprived of sunlight.
Another group of sand dunes is shown to be lit by the sun shining down directly from above.

Last year, researchers found that sand dunes on Mars, once thought to be unchanging, are actually dynamic and active today.





These canyons show the regions of Granicus and Tinjar Valles, lying at approximately 26.8 degrees north latitude and 135.7 degrees east longitude.
The northwest-aligned valles are Mar of the Utopia-Planitia region, an area thought to be covered by a layer of lava.
Today, this once-smooth volcanic plain is incised by channels


Fast dunes can travel a distance equal to their length over 170 years.

The book takes you on a journey into the deep cuts of Mars’ south pole sedimentary layer revealing that they are made up of water ice, rather than frozen CO2.

The cuts were made due to dramatic changes in temperature which can vary by as much as 100° C.




Mars has vast glaciers hidden under aprons of rocky debris near mid and lower latitudes.
In this image, the lines in the lower left largely
parallel revealed the direction the glaciers flowed.
The fissures have similarities to those formed by Alpine glaciers





This image shows region of the Polar South formed in Spring and at the end of summer.
The dark patches shown fractures in the carbonic ice


Mr Barral provides a captivating picture of how circular depressions, swirls and cliffs are created by frozen CO2 on Mars evaporating into gas.
He hopes these images will ‘fuel our imagination, opening up multiple interpretations and thus inciting us to think about our world and ourselves.’




Scientists have long known that the red dust on Mars can swirl and blow around in dust storms and small whirlwinds,
dust devils.

These whirlwinds can cover huge areas of the planet, spiralling random trajectories




A group of sand dunes is lit by the Sun shining down directly from above. Last year, researchers found that sand dunes on Mars, once thought to be unchanging, are actually dynamic and active today.
Fast dunes can travel a distance equal to their length over 170 years
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Old 04-10-13, 17:08   #2
 
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Default re: Incredible New Pics & Info Discovered on Mars

Flood of Evidence in Martian Dirt: First Samples Studied from Curiosity Reveal more Water in Red Planet's Soil than first thought

  • Mars rover found that surface soil contains two per cent water by weight
  • Sample also revealed carbon dioxide, oxygen, and sulphur compounds
  • Future Mars explorers may find all the water they need beneath surface
Nasa’s Mars rover Curiosity has found water in the first soil sample taken from the red planet's surface.
The first scoop of soil analysed by Curiosity revealed that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain two per cent water by weight.

Study lead author Laurie Leshin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Dean of Science, said: ‘One of the most exciting results from this very first solid sample ingested by Curiosity is the high percentage of water in the soil.




Nasa's Mars rover Curiosity has found water in the first soil sample taken from the red planet's surface



THE DISCOVERY OF WATER ON MARS


Evidence of water on Mars dates back to the Mariner 9 mission, which arrived on Mars in 1971.
Mariner 9 imaging revealed clues of water erosion in river beds and canyons as well as weather fronts and fogs.

Viking orbiters that followed caused a revolution in our ideas about water on Mars by showing how floods of water broke through dams, carved deep valleys, eroded grooves into bedrock, and traveled thousands of kilometers.
Mars is currently in the middle of an ice age, so liquid water cannot exist on its surface at the present time. However, the planet seems to have been warmer and wetter in the past.
In June this year, Curiosity rover found Powerful evidence that water good enough to drink once flowed on Mars.

‘About two per cent of the soil on the surface of Mars is made up of water, which is a great resource, and interesting scientifically.’

The sample also released significant carbon dioxide, oxygen, and sulphur compounds when heated.
Curiosity landed in Gale Crater on the surface of Mars on August 6th last year, to try and find out if Mars could have once supported life.

To do that, Curiosity is the first rover on Mars to carry equipment for gathering and processing samples of rock and soil.
One of those instruments was employed in the current research: Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) which includes a gas chromotograph, a mass spectrometer, and a tunable laser spectrometer.
These instruments enable it to identify a wide range of chemical compounds and determine the ratios of different isotopes of key elements.
Paul Mahaffy, principal investigator for SAM at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, said: ‘This work not only demonstrates that SAM is working beautifully on Mars, but also shows how SAM fits into Curiosity's powerful and comprehensive suite of scientific instruments.





Curiosity landed in Gale Crater on the surface of Mars on August 6th last year, to try and find out if Mars could have once supported life



‘By combining analyses of water and other volatiles from SAM with mineralogical, chemical, and geological data from Curiosity's other instruments, we have the most comprehensive information ever obtained on martian surface fines.
‘These data greatly advance our understanding of surface processes and the action of water on Mars.'
Doctor Leshin added: ‘This is the first solid sample that we've analysed with the instruments on Curiosity.
‘It's the very first scoop of stuff that's been fed into the analytical suite. Although this is only the beginning of the story, what we've learned is substantial.’

In the study, published in the journal Science, researchers used the rover's scoop to collect dust, dirt, and finely grained soil from a sandy patch known as ‘Rocknest.’
They fed portions of the fifth scoop into SAM. Inside SAM, the ‘fines’ - as the dust, dirt, and fine soil is known - were heated to 835 degrees Celsius.




'About two per cent of the soil on the surface of Mars is made up of water, which is a great resource, and interesting scientifically,' according to lead researcher Laurie Leshin


Baking the sample also revealed a compound containing chlorine and oxygen, likely chlorate or perchlorate, previously known only from high-latitude locations on Mars.
This finding at Curiosity's equatorial site suggests more global distribution. The analysis also suggests the presence of carbonate materials, which form in the presence of water.
In addition to determining the amount of the major gases released, SAM also analysed ratios of isotopes of hydrogen and carbon in the released water and carbon dioxide.
Isotopes are variants of the same chemical element with different numbers of neutrons, and therefore different atomic weights.
SAM found that the ratio of isotopes in the soil is similar to that found in the atmosphere analysed earlier by Curiosity, indicating that the surface soil has interacted heavily with the atmosphere.

Dr Leshin said: ‘The isotopic ratios, including hydrogen-to-deuterium ratios and carbon isotopes, tend to support the idea that as the dust is moving around the planet, it's reacting with some of the gases from the atmosphere.’

She said the results shed light on the composition of the planet's surface, while offering direction for future research.
Dr Leshin added: ‘We now know there should be abundant, easily accessible water on Mars.
‘When we send people, they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water.’ __________________
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Old 04-10-13, 17:22   #3
 
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Default re: Incredible New Pics & Info Discovered on Mars

Mars may still harbour life despite Nasa's claim that there are unlikely to be microbes beneath the red planet's surface


  • Curiosity rover has found no sign of methane, which is produced by life
  • Robot has spent a year on red planet scanning its surface and atmosphere
  • Robert Zubrin claims inability to find methane may be because rover has only explored a relatively small area

A leading scientist has said that life may still exist on Mars, despite Curiosity Rover’s inability to find methane gas on the planet’s surface.
The president of the Mars Society, Robert Zubrin, told CNET that methane- a gas produced by living things- may still exist because the rover has only analysed a relatively small area of the red planet.
Last week, Nasa said that it was unlikely that microbes capable of producing the gas were living below the planet's surface after Curiosity failed to find the gas.




The president of the Mars Society, Robert Zubrin, has said that methane- a gas produced by living things-
may still exist because the Curiosity rover (pictured) has only analysed a relatively small area of the red planet


But Mr Zubrin criticised Nasa’s lack of direction claiming that the space agency ‘doesn’t have a goal’.
The criticism follows a discussion of Curiosity Rover’s findings presented at the European Planetary Science in London earlier this month.

The conference highlighted some of Curiosity’s most brilliant finds before the rover began its journey to Mount Sharp in July.
Data collected by the Curiosity rover at this time suggested the red planet's atmosphere once had more oxygen in it than Earth, giving serious weight to the theory it could have previously harboured alien life.




In July, data collected by the Curiosity rover suggested the red planet's atmosphere once had more oxygen in it than Earth


CURIOSITY BY NUMBERS

  • The rover's top speed is 1.5 inches per second
  • Curiosity is the fourth rover to visit Mars
  • It took around seven minutes to land on Mars
  • The rover is fitted with 17 cameras
  • It weighs about the same as a Mini Cooper at approximately 1,982 pounds
  • Scientists considered 60 possible landing sites before deciding on Gale Crater

A team of Nasa scientists said that a change in the
ratio of two different kinds of argon gas was evidence that the atmosphere has been stripped away.
Nasa's Dr Chris Webster said: 'As Mars became a planet and its magma ocean solidified, catastrophic outgassing occurred while volatiles were delivered by impact of comets and other smaller bodies.
'Solar wind, and the possible impact by a Pluto-sized body is thought to have stripped much of the initial early atmosphere from the planet, and since then the atmosphere has developed as a balance between volcanic injection and loss to space.'





Only a month earlier, powerful evidence that water good enough to drink once flowed on Mars was found by the ageing vehicle.
Evidence of water on Mars had previously been indicated by a succession of discoveries- but all had suggested flows of sulphuric acid.
This was the first time water has been found in a form that is likely to be drinkable.
Scientists also discovered pebbles on Mars, showing that a stream had flowed on the planet.

The rounded pebbles could only have formed when they were carried through water over long distances, according to researchers.




Scientists had previously discovered pebbles on Mars, showing that a stream has flowed on the planet
- giving more weight to the theory that it was once able to support life


In April, the $2.5 billion rover found evidence that as much as 90 per cent of the original atmosphere there had dissipated into space over the planet's lifetime.
Curiosity also revealed further details of its life on the surface - with evidence of dust storms and whirlwinds.
The conference focused heavily on a the Tintina pebble crushed under the Curiosity Mars rover's wheels which split open to reveal a dazzling white interior - a sign that it contained hydrated minerals, formed when water flowed through it.
Curiosity is now on a long journey to Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles into the Martian sky from Gale Crater's center.
The rover will take monthly readings of the Martian atmosphere during the road trip, expected to last almost a year
'Curiosity rover can do all kinds of things. It could find fossils. It has imaging capability, a telescope for microorganisms,' said Mr Zubrin in his interview with CNET.

'Maybe a puff of methane will come and it will be detected later. There's lot for Curiosity to look for.'




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