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Scientists find definitive evidence for ancient lake on Mars.

Byline: ANI

Washington, June 18 (ANI): A University of Colorado University of Colorado may refer to:
  • University of Colorado at Boulder (flagship campus)
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
  • University of Colorado system
 (CU) at Boulder research team has discovered the first definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars, an indication of a deep, ancient lake there and a finding with implications for the discovery of past life on the Red Planet.

Estimated to be more than 3 billion years old, the lake appears to have covered as much as 80 square miles A square mil is a unit of area, equal to the area of a square with sides of length one mil. A mil is one thousandth of an international inch. This unit of area is usually used in specifying the area of the cross section of a wire or cable.  and was up to 1,500 feet deep, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 CU-Boulder Research Associate Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study.

The shoreline evidence, found along a broad delta, included a series of alternating ridges and troughs thought to be surviving remnants of beach deposits.

"This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars," said Di Achille. "The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago," he added.

Images used for the study were taken by a high-powered camera known as the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE.

Riding on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, HiRISE can resolve features on the surface down to one meter in size from its orbit 200 miles above Mars.

An analysis of the HiRISE images indicate that water carved a 30-mile-long canyon that opened up into a valley, depositing sediment that formed a large delta.

"This delta and others surrounding the basin imply the existence of a large, long-lived lake," said Hynek, also an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's geological sciences department.

The lake bed is located within a much larger valley known as the Shalbatana Vallis.

"Finding shorelines is a Holy Grail Holy Grail: see Grail, Holy.


A very desired object or outcome that borders on a sacred quest. There are several Holy Grails in the computer business.
 of sorts to us," said Hynek.

In addition, the evidence shows the lake existed during a time when Mars is generally believed to have been cold and dry, which is at odds with current theories proposed by many planetary plan·e·tar·y  
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or resembling the physical or orbital characteristics of a planet or the planets.

2.
a.
 scientists, he added.

"Not only does this research prove there was a long-lived lake system on Mars, but we can see that the lake formed after the warm, wet period is thought to have dissipated dis·si·pat·ed  
adj.
1. Intemperate in the pursuit of pleasure; dissolute.

2. Wasted or squandered.

3. Irreversibly lost. Used of energy.
," he explained.

The newly discovered lake is believed to have formed during the Hesperian epoch and postdates the end of the warm and wet period on Mars by 300 million years, according to the study.

Di Achille said the newly discovered pristine pris·tine  
adj.
1.
a. Remaining in a pure state; uncorrupted by civilization.

b. Remaining free from dirt or decay; clean: pristine mountain snow.

2.
 lake bed and delta deposits would be would be a prime target for a future landing mission to Mars in search of evidence of past life. (ANI)

Copyright 2009 Asian News International The Asian News International (ANI) agency provides multimedia news to China and 50 bureaus in India. It covers virtually all of South Asia since its foundation and presently claims, on its official website, to be the leading South Asia-wide news agency.  (ANI) - All Rights Reserved.

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Jun 18, 2009
Words:442
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