Monday, March 23, 2009

Mud on Mars? May improve chances of life.

NASA researchers analyzing photos from the Mars Odyssey probe have come across "dozens of mounds at a site in the northern plains of Mars that bear a striking resemblance to mud volcanoes on Earth." (New Scientist) Not only to the mounds look the part, infrared images show they cool more quickly than rock at night, "suggesting they are made of a fine-grained sediment."

Who cares? This suggests three things favorable to the prospects of life. Geologic activity, warmth and of course, liquid water.

Mars has gotten pretty interesting this year. In January,
scientists detected methane gas plumes (before you yawn, know that 90 percent of the methane on Earth comes from living things). This month, a picture was released showing what appear to be water droplets on one of the Phoenix Mars rover's landing struts.

Also this month scientists collected
evidence suggesting life may exist beneath Olympus Mons, a Martian volcano that also happens to be the largest volcano in the Solar System. And there's a connection to the mud volcano story here. The way Olympus Mons is leaning, it seems to have a water-logged, clay (muddy) base.

(photo of possible mud volcanoes by NASA)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.