These trenches on Mars glisten with white spots of ice.
White House Briefed On Potential For Mars Life
Aviation Week & Space Technology
“The White House has been alerted by NASA about plans to make an announcement soon on major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the ‘potential for life’ on Mars, scientists tell Aviation Week & Space Technology.
“Sources say the new data do not indicate the discovery of existing or past life on Mars. Rather the data relate to habitability–the ‘potential’ for Mars to support life–at the Phoenix arctic landing site, sources say.”
As Phoenix settles down to begin its search for organic compounds on Mars, a new study indicates that the oceans that once covered Mars were far too briny to support life as we know it.
“Our sense has been that while Mars is a lousy environment for supporting life today, long ago it might have more closely resembled Earth,” Andrew Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural Sciences and professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard, said in a press release.
“But this result suggests quite strongly that even as long as four billion years ago, the surface of Mars would have been challenging for life. No matter how far back we peer into Mars’ history, we may never see a point at which the planet really looked like Earth,” he added.
“This doesn’t rule out life forms of a type we’ve never encountered,” Knoll says, “but life that could originate and persist in such a salty setting would require biochemistry distinct from any known among even the most robust halophiles on Earth.”
The study, done in collaboration with scientists at Stony Brook University, was published in the journal Science (subscription required). Harvard University has a summary of the study here, as does Sky & Telescope.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESS RELEASE
Scientists on the HiRISE team have discovered never-before-seen impact â€œmegabrecciaâ€ and a possibly once-habitable ancient lake on Mars at a place called Holden crater.
The megabreccia is topped by layers of fine sediments that formed in what apparently was a long-lived, calm lake that filled Holden crater on early Mars, HiRISE scientists say.
â€œHolden crater has some of the best-exposed lake deposits and ancient megabreccia known on Mars,” said HiRISEâ€™s principal investigator, professor Alfred McEwen of the UAâ€™s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. â€Both contain minerals that formed in the presence of water and mark potentially habitable environments. This would be an excellent place to send a rover or sample-return mission to make major advances in understanding if Mars supported life.â€œ