Evidence shows Mars wetter than thought previously

by Anonymous on Oct. 29th, 2008

Evidence of hydrated silica on Mars: The presence of opal in these relatively young rocks tells scientists that water, possibly as rivers and small ponds, interacted with the surface as recently as two billion years ago, one billion years later than scientists had expected.
Evidence of hydrated silica on Mars: The presence of opal in these relatively young rocks tells scientists that water, possibly as rivers and small ponds, interacted with the surface as recently as two billion years ago, one billion years later than scientists had expected.Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
A new category of minerals detected across large areas of the Martian surface by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MOR) suggests the Red Planet had a much wetter past than thought previously. According to Scott Murchie, Mars researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, the recent discovery of hydrated silica (opal) offers new insights into the planet's watery past.

"This is an exciting discovery because it extends the time range for liquid water on Mars, and the places where it might have supported life. The identification of opaline silica tells us that water may have existed as recently as 2 billion years ago."

You can read the whole story at NASA's MOR site.

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