Mars Crater Points to Water ... and Life?
Scientists find evidence of long-dry lake
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 21, 2013 9:13 AM CST
This view of layered rocks on the floor of McLaughlin Crater shows sedimentary rocks that contain spectroscopic evidence for minerals formed through interaction with water.   (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

(Newser) – Photos of an enormous crater on Mars indicate possible underground water—water that could have supported life, and could still be doing so. Images taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the 57-mile-wide McLaughlin Crater, which is now dry. It's one of the planet's deepest spots at 1.3 miles, and minerals there indicate upwelled groundwater may have formed a lake on the spot some 4 billion years ago. One other sign of a former lake, per Space.com: channels that climb 1,650 feet up the walls of the crater's eastern side.

Because the surface of the planet is inhospitably cold, scientists have focused on lower layers in a search for possible life. Earth's underground is home to almost half its living matter, in the form of microbes, and in like fashion, "the deep crust has always been the most habitable place on Mars," says the study's head author. His work began as an attempt to disprove that water had flowed to Mars' surface. But "lo and behold, there was strong evidence for that process in this crater," he notes. "Science is special because we are allowed to change our minds."

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
1492
Jan 21, 2013 7:55 PM CST
I live an hour and a half from Meteor Crater in Arizona. It is a mile wide. About half a mile deep. This crater on Mars is 57 miles wide. No comparison....the Mars crater just over a mile deep....Imagine the gigantic Meteor that struck Mars..... Moreover, that crater has been filling up with mars dirt for millions of storm years. That crater most likely may have been 10 or 15 miles deep.....Its width serves as a dirt collector. The fact that it has a thin atmosphere; points directly to its inability to protect it from such catastrophies. We get bombarded with meteors night and day. Our Planet's atmosphere turns them into sand pebbles and small rocks that appear as shooting stars in the night. Remember when our Columbia Space Shuttle was entering our atmosphere at 18,000 miles per hour....it turned into rubble. Ever drive where you can see the carving of earth on the walls of highways. Ever see a Canyon?.....look at the different levels of soil that changed every time we had an earthquake millions of years ago....You see a straight line, either very horizontal or a very large piece of mountain with the strands of time lines all going in the same direction.....They are no water lines. They are Seismic movement and does not necessarily bring about water. There is no water on Mars. If there ever was, they would an atmosphere that would protect the planet. A planet either has water or it doesn't. One thing I would be interested in is seeing what the Mars Meteor was made of. 1942
BrushMan
Jan 21, 2013 11:00 AM CST
We should be concentrating on fresh water here on earth. It is rapidly running out, ya know.
finkster
Jan 21, 2013 10:57 AM CST
Well, you convinced me NASA.....so when will I be able to go and homestead Mars?