Thursday, December 07, 2006

Water on Mars?

NASA made a big announcement Wednesday morning. Satellite imagery suggests recent mineral deposits on Mars were caused by flowing water! NASA's full story here.

If the report is correct, water broke out onto the surface and moved minerals before the harsh Martian climate turned the water into a liquid or the thin atmospheric pressure morphed the water into a gas.

While the presence of water ice in the polar caps and fog at the bottom of the Valley of the Mariners (Valles Marineris) has long been known, this discovery is ground breaking. If water is near the surface, it would make a mission to Mars much easier. A big logistical problem about a Mars mission is having to tote enough water (a very, very heavy thing) to Mars for astronauts to live off of for a few months.

And what field of study allowed scientists to realize the possibility of surface water? Physical geography using fluvial morphology. I predict that NASA and maybe other national space agencies will be interesting in geomorphologists as they inch closer to interplanetary expeditions. Geographers can yield information on where landings and bases should be located and help research how planets formed and evolve.

You here that NASA, I and other geographers interested in space study are ready and willing to work for you!

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