Skip to comments.Water gushes created "staircases" on Mars: study
Posted on 02/20/2008 8:44:23 PM PST by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sudden, tremendous gushes of water from underground most likely carved out unusual fan-shaped geological formations with steps like a staircase long ago on the surface of Mars, scientists said on Wednesday.
The Martian surface boasts perhaps 200 large basins that have formations resembling fans. About 10 of them are terraced, with what looks like steps into the basin. Since they were first seen three years ago, scientists have debated how these formations, some of them 9 miles wide, were created.
Dutch and U.S. researchers simulated on Earth on a vastly smaller scale the conditions that might have led to these formations on Mars that resemble dry river deltas with steps.
At a facility at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, they dug a crater in sand in a room-sized tub, then started water flowing into the crater. As the water flowed in through a channel, it eroded the sediment, then fanned out and deposited sediment as deltas, building steps down into the basin, very much like the Martian formations.
Erin Kraal, a researcher at Virginia Tech University who led the study published in the journal Nature, said these Martian formations probably formed quickly -- in a period of decades not hundreds, thousands or millions of years.
And they involved a lot of water.
"What you could imagine is something like the Mississippi River flowing for 10 years and then turning off, or the Rhine River flowing for 100 years and then turning off," Kraal said in a telephone interview.
"It's hard to image being able to get that much water to start so suddenly and stop so suddenly," Kraal added.
Kraal said the large volume of water needed to carve out these formations billions of years ago most likely burst from beneath the surface of the planet. "It doesn't look like it came from precipitation, or from rain. It looks like it came from a hydrothermal source or from melting ice," Kraal said.
Scientists want to understand the history of water on Mars because water is fundamental to the question of whether the planet has ever harbored microbial or some other life. Liquid water is a necessity for life as we know it. While Mars is now arid and dusty, there is evidence it once was much wetter.
For example, scientists think that long, undulating features seen on the northern plains of Mars may be remnants of shorelines of an ocean that covered a third of the planet's surface at least 2 billion years ago.
Currently, there are huge deposits of frozen water at the poles. And images taken by a NASA spacecraft suggest the presence of a small amount of liquid water on the surface. The images showed changes in the walls of two craters apparently caused by the downhill flow of water in the past few years.
A handout of the European Space Agency ESA shows a visualisation of Mars, created from spacecraft imagery. Sudden, tremendous gushes of water from underground most likely carved out unusual fan-shaped geological formations with steps like a staircase long ago on the surface of Mars, scientists said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Ho/European Space Agency
We should have people standing on that planet by now.
Let the funds flow,, like the waters of Mars once used to.. ;-)
I enjoy looking at all the different shots of stuff on Mars and about the theories of how what got where and why..
The mysterious ridges at the mouth of Tiu Valles
Cydonia’s ‘Face on Mars’ in 3D animation
The first hiking maps of Mars
Sheila Jackson Lee says we have.
I’m all for exploration. I get tired of endless extrapolation.
AK AK AK AK AK AK AK
We can only hope the democrats don’t kill the future Nasa programs.
If given the chance they will.
The ridges are cool.
You know I’ve seen similar type ridges here on Earth. In Northern CA.
Except they weren’t arced, they were rectangular.
They were rice paddies.
Please make sure you pay for your martian dream with your own money and not mine.
She should know - that's her home planet!
Very depressing that people still think that way now. Would you rather the pittance of money that the space program uses go towards more welfare? It’s something that actually shows results, unlike most government non-military programs.
Obviously, Martian glaciers melted due to “Global Warming”.
I’d like to know if the inundated areas conform to a pattern on Mars’ surface? Are they in a band, in a zone, above or below the equator, and how could water carve out a canyon that is boxed at both ends?
I'd rather it not be taken out of my pocket in the first place, thank you. I have these silly little concerns like food, clothing, and shelter... hope you can find a place for them in that big government budget.
Betcha the Chinese send a "Hero" to Marsfully knowing that it will be planned as a one-way trip.
Also, bet we have Americans with a life-ending disease (besides "Living" itself, that is) who would also make a 1-way trip.
I'd name Mars' biggest geographical feature after him. Heck...rename the planet in his honor!
“Please make sure you pay for your martian dream with your own money and not mine.”
Dude, your taxes are already paying for that trip. If you don’t like it, I would advise you to stop paying taxes. I think you’ll be the first to complain when commie china gets there ahead of us and declares the entire planet their property.
Why? And who pays?
The depth of analysis on this forum never ceases to astound me. What value is in Mars that makes it worth the vast wealth consumed to get there (never mind get there and back which is about 100 times as expensive)? The rovers showed that Mars consists of rocks & dirt with almost no atmosphere 6/10 of 1 percent of earth's and a bit of ice.
I got new fer ya. We have rocks, dirt and ice here. Anyone could haul a load of rocks and dirt from North Dakota to wherever, but they don't because they have rocks and dirt just about everywhere you look. If you want rocks and dirt with some ice from a really cold place, then haul rocks and dirt from Antartica. But oddly enough no one does, because rocks and dirt just aren't worth hauling, and it is hundreds of thousands of times cheaper to haul a kg of stuff from Antartica than from mars. Try reading Sowell's primer on economics.
Personally I'd love to see the chinese spend vast quantities of wealth colonizing mars. It would do as good a job at impoverishing them as Mao's five year plans.
Easily done as soon as you remove the onerous 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty.
And let's get rid of the UN itself while we're at it.
Fine with me. It’s just a forum for rants by tinpot dictators.
And primarily paid for by the US taxpayers. If we could get rid of it just think how much money could be freed up to stay in the taxpayers' pockets (yes I know the politicians would never give it back) From the state dept
The U.S.-assessed contribution to the U.N. regular budget in 2003 was $341 million, and to U.N. specialized agencies was over $400 million. The United States also contributed $686 million in assessments to the peacekeeping budget; $57 million for the support of the international war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia; and, $6 million forThis adds up to 1.4 billion dollars just in 2003.
UN jurisdiction extends to the street out in front of their building.
Thanks for the pics Norm, I agree. After all if it weren’t for the riches of Queen Isabella...
She's actually from Uranus
That makes her a cling-on
Two false statements. The technology to put a living being on Mars and return in NOT there. "We" are only in low orbit, and for what? Just what added value is having people in orbit that is achieved that offsets the cost? Lat I heard NASA was trolling the elementary schools to look for things to do to justify the contiuned expense.
The mission is already being planned BTW so it's a bit late to ask who pays I think.
Two things. First it's not too late to kill it. budgets can always get cut or not approved. Budgets are approved on a year by year basis, and Two, why does this make it irrelevant as to who pays?
We need to be there so that people like the chicoms don't claim the darn planet first off. S
So what if they do? How does that aid them or harm us? It is easy to see how it could harm the country getting there because of the vast waste of resources consumed in the process, but suppose we get a man to mars then what good does it do? WE had several men on the moon nearly 40 years ago and what benefit has come to us from the moon? What exotic materials? What natural resources? ANswer none and none. If the moon had lumps of solid gold strewn over the surface (which it does not) then it would not be worth the cost of getting it. How much did the apollo program cost? In 1994 dollars about $100 billion. They returned 382 kg of lunar material total. That works out to about $262,000,000 per kg. What possible value can the rocks have that makes them worth that much? And by the way they're mostly anorthosite. If you want anorthosite you can drive to the adirondacs and pick some up, since the central mountains in the adirondacs are anorthosite. Now let's look at Mars. The moon is approximately 100 time closer than mars, so it will cost roughly 100 times as much to get to mars as to the moon. Actually this is a lowball because of the extra shielding needed to protect the crew. But even in the best scenario, Mars material will cost about $26 billion per kg, and as we've seen from the rovers it's just rocks and dirt.
Thirdly, I think we just should. Expand, explore, learn that is. :)
The us treasury accepts voluntary donations. I suggest you and a few like minded friends (you can find them here on FR)donate the trillion or so dollars that it will take.