Evidence of ancient hot springs on Mars detailed

Feb 12, 2009

New Rochelle, NY, February 12, 2009 -Data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) suggest the discovery of ancient springs in the Vernal Crater, sites where life forms may have evolved on Mars, according to a report in Astrobiology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert.

Hot springs have great astrobiological significance, as the closest relatives of many of the most ancient organisms on Earth can thrive in and around hydrothermal springs. If life forms have ever been present on Mars, hot spring deposits would be ideal locations to search for physical or chemical evidence of these organisms and could be target areas for future exploratory missions.

In the research paper entitled, "A Case for Ancient Springs in Arabia Terra, Mars," Carlton C. Allen and Dorothy Z. Oehler, from the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, propose that new image data from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on MRO depict structures in Vernal Crater that appear to have arisen as part of a major area of ancient spring activity. The data suggest that the southern part of Vernal Crater has experienced episodes of water flow from underground to the surface and may be a site where martian life could have developed.

"Hot spring deposits are key target areas for future Mars missions," says Sherry L. Cady, PhD, Editor of Astrobiology and Associate Professor in the Department of Geology at Portland State University. "Such deposits on Earth preserve evidence of the fossilized remains of the microbial communities that inhabited the hot springs over a wide range of spatial scales. The potential to find key evidence indicative of life--biofabrics, microbial remains, chemical fossils in minerals--is high when sedimentary deposits form from hydrothermal fluids. Hot spring fluids are typically laden with dissolved mineral ions that, when they precipitate out and create the hydrothermal deposit, enhance fossilization of all types of biosignatures."

Several key papers in the issue are available free online at www.liebertpub.com/ast

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

Explore further: Obama salutes 45th anniversary of US astronauts' Moon landing

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ex-Qualcomm exec pleads guilty to insider trading

1 hour ago

A former high-ranking executive of US computer chip giant Qualcomm pleaded guilty Monday to insider trading charges, including trades on a 2011 deal for Atheros Communications, officials said.

Media venture creates press litigation fund

1 hour ago

The media venture created by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar said Monday it was establishing a fund to help defend journalists in cases involving freedom of the press.

'Moral victories' might spare you from losing again

2 hours ago

It's human nature to hate losing. Unfortunately, it's also human nature to overreact to a loss, potentially abandoning a solid strategy and thus increasing your chances of losing the next time around.

Recommended for you

New launch date set for ISS delivery vessel

13 hours ago

A robot ship will be launched from Kourou, French Guiana, after a five-day delay on July 29 to deliver provisions to the International Space Station, space transport firm Arianespace said Tuesday.

The heart of an astronaut, five years on

14 hours ago

The heart of an astronaut is a much-studied thing. Scientists have analyzed its blood flow, rhythms, atrophy and, through journal studies, even matters of the heart. But for the first time, researchers are ...

Image: Kaleidoscopic view of Mars

20 hours ago

Astrophotographer Leo Aerts from Belgium took advantage of the recent opposition of Mars and captured the Red Planet both "coming and going" in this montage of images taken from October 2013 to June of 2014. ...

User comments : 0