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Tuesday 8 March 2016

LPSC 2016 Paper: 400 meter deep lake on ancient Mars?

Mars is famous for it's water: There's very little, and what there is is loaded with incredibly poisonous perchlorate chemicals. And even finding that was a big deal on a frozen-desert planet.
Above These dark markings are (as far as we can tell) caused by water. Very, very bad water. Don't drink it Matt Damon!
But there is a lot of ice. A helluva lot, and the way it's arranged (plus all the fossilised river valleys) suggests water was a lot cleaner and more abundant billions of years ago. But exactly how much has been debated for a very long time: Were there a few substantial oasis in the Martian desert, or are we talking major oceans here?

Above: An artists impressio of an ancient Martian ocean. Courtesy of Nick Stevens.
Which is where a new paper from this years Lunar and Planetary Science Conference comes in (link to the PDF here): It deals with data collected on 'McLaughlin crater' by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Data which suggests the crater held a groundwater fed lake with a volume of 12,000 cubic kilometres, and a depth of over 400 meters - which is deeper than Earth's Dead sea, and a hundred times the volume.

Mclaughlin crater lake dates from the time time in the solar systems history when life was just taking hold on Earth. So, as well as being evidence that some parts of Mars were more than just a little damp, it's sediments could give us an insight into what the solar systems chemistry was like at the time... and who knows, the lake looks like it was pretty life friendly.....
There're a lot of interesting papers coming out of LPSC 2016, so keep an eye on this site and other space news sites for the latest discoveries!

Elsewhere in the Universe:

Trailer for J.J. Abrhams new docu-movie, Moonshot:

J.J. Abrams is more known for huge budget sci-fi movies like the Star Trek reboot, and little tiny film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But this is different: This is a documentary on the Google Lunar X-prize, and race between private companies to land a robot on the Moon. And I can't wait to see what he's made of it....

ESA and Inmarsat team up to develop next-gen air traffic control

U.S. loses control of weather satellite 


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