Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ancient Volcanic Blast Provides More Evidence of Water On Early Mars

This bomb sag on the surface of Mars was created during a volcanic blast approximately 3.5 billion years ago. Assistant Professor Josef Dufek has replicated the sag in his lab while studying the possibility of water and atmospheric conditions of early Mars. (Credit: NASA/JPL)
ScienceDaily (May 4, 2012) — The atmosphere of Mars is less than 1 percent the density of Earth's. It's one of the reasons liquid water covers much of our planet but cannot exist on the Red Planet. As more research points toward the possibility of water on early Mars, scientists have increased their studies on the density of its atmosphere billions of years ago. It's not an easy task. In fact, it's very difficult to even determine Earth's atmospheric pressure from the same time frame.

Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Josef Dufek is attempting to learn more about the past atmospheric conditions by analyzing two unlikely sources: ancient volcanic eruptions and surface observations by the Mars rover Spirit. His new findings, published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, provide more evidence that early Mars was saturated with water and that its atmosphere was considerably thicker, at least 20 times more dense, than it is today.



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