Menu
Scientific developments
NASA's WISE Mission Captures Black Hole's Wildly Flaring Jet

Climatic Fluctuations Drove Key Events in Human Evolution, Researchers Find

Researchers Discover How 'Promiscuous Parasites' Hijack Host Immune Cells

Using Human Genomes to Illuminate the Mysteries of Early Human History

Carnivorous Plant Inspires Coating That Resists Just About Any Liquids

From the Comfort of Home, Web Users May Have Found New Planets

Aquarium Fishes Are More Aggressive in Reduced Environments, New Study Finds

Bioengineers Reprogram Muscles to Combat Degeneration

Asia Was Settled in Multiple Waves of Migration, DNA Study Suggests

Some Brain Wiring Continues to Develop Well Into Our 20s

Evolutionary Tree of Life for Mammals Greatly Improved

Nitrate Levels Rising in Northwestern Pacific Ocean

Nanoscale Nonlinear Light Source Optical Device Can Be Controlled Electronically

Cloaking Magnetic Fields: First Antimagnet Developed

Nature Offers Key Lessons On Harvesting Solar Power, Say Chemists

Monkeys Also Reason Through Analogy, Study Shows

Invasion of Genomic Parasites Triggered Modern Mammalian Pregnancy, Study Finds

Jumping Gene Enabled Key Step in Corn Domestication

Salty Water and Gas Sucked Into Earth's Interior Helps Unravel Planetary Evolution

People Learn While They Sleep, Study Suggests

New Technique Maps Twin Faces of Smallest Janus Nanoparticles

New 'FeTRAM' Is Promising Computer Memory Technology

Hide-And-Seek: Altered HIV Can't Evade Immune System

Scientists Reveal Molecular Sculptor of Memories

Correcting Sickle Cell Disease With Stem Cells

New Mystery On Mars' Forgotten Plains
One of the supposedly best understood and least interesting landscapes on Mars is hiding something that could rewrite the planet's history. Or not. In fact, about all that is certain is that decades of assumptions regarding the wide, flat Hesperia Planum are not holding up very well under renewed scrutiny with higher-resolution, more recent spacecraft data.

"Most scientists don't want to work on the flat things," noted geologist Tracy Gregg of University at Buffalo, State University of New York. So after early Mars scientists decided Hesperia Planum looked like a lava-filled plain, no one really revisited the matter and the place was used to exemplify something rather important: The base of a major transitional period in the geologic time scale of Mars. The period is aptly called the Hesperian and it is thought to have run from 3.7 to 3.1 billion years ago.

But when Gregg and her student Carolyn Roberts started looking at this classic Martian lava plain with modern data sets, they ran into trouble.

"There's a volcano in Hesperia Planum that not many people pay attention to because it's very small," Gregg said. "As I started looking closer at the broader region -- I can't find any other volcanic vents, any flows. I just kept looking for evidence of lava flows. It's kind of frustrating. There is nothing like that in the Hesperia Planum."

"A likely cause of this trouble is the thick dust that blankets Hesperia Planum," she said. "It covers everywhere like a snowfall."

So she turned her attention to what could be discerned on Hesperia Planum: about a dozen narrow, sinuous channels, called rilles, just a few hundred meters wide and up to hundreds of kilometers long. These rilles have no obvious sources or destinations and it is not at all clear they are volcanic.

"The question I have is what made the channels," said Gregg. Was it water, lava, or something else? "There are some lavas that can be really, really runny. And both are liquids that run downhill." So either is a possibility.

To begin to sort the matter out, Gregg and Roberts are now looking for help on the Moon. Their preliminary findings are being presented at the Annual Meeting of The Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.

"On the Moon we see these same kinds of features and we know that water couldn't have formed them there," Gregg said. So they are in the process of comparing channels on the Moon and Mars, using similar data sets from different spacecraft, to see if that sheds any light on the matter. She hopes to find evidence that will rule out water or lava on Hesperia Planum.

"Everybody assumed these were huge lava flows," said Gregg. "But if it turns out to be a lake deposit, it's a very different picture of what Mars was doing at that time." It would also make Hesperia Planum a good place to look for life, because water plus volcanic heat and minerals is widely believed to be a winning combination for getting life started.

"The 'volcanic' part is an interpretation that's beginning to fall apart," said Gregg. "What is holding up is that the Hesperian marks a transition between the Noachian (a time of liquid water on the surface and the formation of lots of impact craters) and the Amazonian (a drier, colder Mars)."

She has found that other scientists are interested in her work because of its possible implications on the Mars geological time scale. Gregg is not worried that Mars history will need to be rewritten, but she does suspect that Hesperia Planum is a lot more complicated than people has long thought.

Why a whole house water filter guidewaterfilter.com.

First Comet Found With Ocean-Like Water

Laser Light Used to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State

Biologists Find 'Surprising' Number of Unknown Viruses in Sewage

Long-Lost Lake Agassiz Offers Clues to Climate Change

Series of Bumps Sent Uranus Into Its Sideways Spin, New Research Suggests

Venus Has an Ozone Layer Too, Space Probe Discovers

Supersaturated Water Vapor in Martian Atmosphere

Is Chivalry the Norm for Insects?

Crab Pulsar Beams Most Energetic Gamma Rays Ever Detected from a Pulsar

Subtly Shaded Map of Moon Reveals Titanium Treasure Troves

Ancient Climate Change Has Left a Strong Imprint On Modern Ecosystems

Astrophysics and Extinctions: News About Planet-Threatening Events

Giant 'Kraken' Lair Discovered: Cunning Sea Monster That Preyed On Ichthyosaurs

instagram post mac

Menu
Easily Embarrassed? Study Finds People Will Trust You More

Stardust Discovered in Far-Off Planetary Systems

Galaxy Caught Blowing Bubbles

Sharks Are in Trouble, New Analysis Confirms

Engineers 'Cook' Promising New Heat-Harvesting Nanomaterials in Microwave Oven

NASA Space Telescope Finds Fewer Asteroids Near Earth

Scientists Release Most Accurate Simulation of the Universe to Date

'Superfast' Muscles Responsible for Bat Echolocation

Space Telescopes Reveal Secrets of Turbulent Black Hole

'Alarm Clock' Gene Explains Wake-Up Function of Biological Clock

Mechanism Uncovered for the Establishment of Vertebrate Leftright Asymmetry

Astronomers Reveal Supernova Factory

Reefs Recovered Faster After Mass Extinction Than First Thought

Gravitational Waves That Are 'Sounds of the Universe'

Decline and Recovery of Coral Reefs Linked to 700 Years of Human and Environmental Activities

Unprecedented Arctic Ozone Loss Last Winter

'Mirage-Effect' Helps Researchers Hide Objects

Electricity from the Nose: Engineers Make Power from Human Respiration

Natural Compound Helps Reverse Diabetes in Mice

Physicists Move One Step Closer to Quantum Computer

Pumice Proposed as Home to the First Life Forms

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline, Hits Second-Lowest Level

Sociability May Depend Upon Brain Cells Generated in Adolescence

Last Universal Common Ancestor More Complex Than Previously Thought

Monkeys 'Move and Feel' Virtual Objects Using Only Their Brains