Mars Clays Could Preserve Signs of Life
by Nola Taylor Redd, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 12 March 2012 Time: 05:24 PM ET
The mud and clays ideal for preserving fossil records are less common around Martian lakes than on Earth. A new survey of 226 ancient lakebeds on the Red Planet reveals that only a third show evidence of such deposits on the surface today.
A team of scientists from Brown University pored over surface images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Odyssey Spacecraft, and the Mars Express spacecraft in search of lakes that once boasted water rushing out as well as in. They then analyzed the reflected light from each lake to determine their chemical composition, hoping to identify the muds and clays found in such systems on Earth.
They found that only 79 of the beds contained deposits of minerals that hint at clays on the surface. This scarcity could be a result of the chemistry of mixing Martian water and the surrounding land, or it could be another sign that water on the Red Planet only stuck around for a brief period of time, scientists say.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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