[meteorite-list] Ancient Martian Air 'Too Cold and Thin' for Liquid Water

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:01:43 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201404152201.s3FM1hHR010478_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Ancient Martian Air 'Too Cold and Thin' for Liquid Water
By Hannah Osborne
International Business Times
April 14, 2014

The air on Mars 3.6 billion years ago was too cold and thin for liquid
water to form, scientists have said.

Nasa's Rover explorers had found evidence that water was present on the
Red Planet in its liquid state billions of years ago and there was enough
for rivers and lakes to exist.

However, research published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests
that water formation on Mars was the result of occasional warm spells

According to Nature magazine, researchers are increasingly finding evidence
to suggest that Mars was not warm and wet during its early history, which
would have required an atmosphere much thicker than modern times.

Edwin Kite, a planetary scientist from Princeton University, said it is
very unlikely Mars was able to hold a thick atmosphere for more than a
few thousand years at a time.

He said the size of the planet's craters provide evidence to support their
theory. Using images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the team catalogued
over 300 craters over 84,000 square kilometres.

If Mars had a thicker atmosphere, small objects would have broken up as
they passed through, like they do with Earth, rather than surviving intact
to create big blast craters.

Only 10% of the craters had diameters of 50m or less, with many believed
to be the remnants of ancient craters being 21m or smaller.

After using a computer model to look at a simulation of incoming objects
striking Mars with different atmospheric densities, the researchers found
it was probably no more than 150 times its current state. This means it
was about a third as thick as it needed to be to host liquid water and
consistently keep the surface temperature above freezing.

James Head, from Brown University in Rhode Island, said: "This is an excellent
paper. It bolsters previous studies that suggest early Mars was icy."

Kite said the most likely scenario for water on Mars was the red planet
being intermittently warm through greenhouse gasses from volcanic activity
- enough to thicken the atmosphere for a few millennium: "That's plenty
enough to get fluid flowing [on Mars]," he said.
Received on Tue 15 Apr 2014 06:01:43 PM PDT

Help support this free mailing list:

Yahoo MyWeb