There have been many recent releases on Mars research; this week, NAI Features takes a brief look about what’s been happening.
Mars astrobiology has recently received two almost simultaneous announcements on prospects of water on the Red Planet. The first, which deals with possibilities of a wet Mars in the past, was led by scientists at NASA Ames Research Center and the University of Colorado. This study challenges the notion that early Mars sustained a continuously warm environment that supported liquid water on its surface. Alternatively, this research shows that frequent impacts of large asteroids would have allowed only brief periods of a warm, wet environment. The impacts would cause extraordinary conditions that would induce massive floods, landslides, and quakes on the surface. More on this is available at Spaceflight Now
and BBC News
The second release, which is a more upbeat note for Mars astrobiology, is derived from data collected by the Mars Odyssey. Themis (Thermal Emission Imaging System), an instrument on-board the Odyssey, detected the presence of frozen water ice near Mars' southern polar cap. Up till this point, only frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) had been found there. Even though frozen water had been found near the north pole of Mars previously, this was the first detection near the south pole. Further information is available at Space.com. Both of these studies listed above were released in the most recent issues of Science.
Finally, the 2007 Scout Mission took a step forward last Friday with the release of four proposals. Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters said that these proposals "
represent innovative ideas for exploring Mars on a modest budget to answer several priority questions about the Red Planet." To find out who the first round winners were, visit Today @ NASA for the press release.