Más pruebes de los antiguos mares de Marte


Un equipu formáu por científicos de tol mundu topa más pruebes qu'amuesen la esistencia d'océanos d'agua en pasaes dómines de Marte. A base d'analizar los datos recolectaos por un espectrómetru de rayos gamma, que ta agospiau como instrumentu d'abordu na sonda espacial Mars Odyssey de la Nasa, tán acabantes d'espublizar conclusiones qu'apunten nesa dirección.
"We compared Gamma Ray Spectrometer data on potassium, thorium and iron above and below a shoreline believed to mark an ancient ocean that covered a third of Mars' surface, and an inner shoreline believed to mark a younger, smaller ocean," said University of Arizona planetary geologist James M. Dohm, who led the international investigation.
"Our investigation posed the question, Might we see a greater concentration of these elements within the ancient shorelines because water and rock containing the elements moved from the highlands to the lowlands, where they eventually ponded as large water bodies?" Dohm said.
Mars Odyssey's GRS, or Gamma Ray Spectrometer, led by William Boynton of UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, has the unique ability to detect elements buried as much as 1/3 meter, or 13 inches, below the surface by the gamma rays they emit. That capability led to GRS' dramatic 2002 discovery of water-ice near the surface throughout much of high-latitude Mars.
Results from Mars Odyssey and other spacecraft suggest that past watery conditions likely leached, transported and concentrated such elements as potassium, thorium and iron, Dohm said. "The regions below and above the two shoreline boundaries are like cookie cutouts that can be compared to the regions above the boundaries, as well as the total region."
The younger, inner shoreline is evidence that an ocean about 10 times the size of the Mediterranean Sea, or about the size of North America, existed on the northern plains of Mars a few billion years ago. The larger, more ancient shoreline that covered a third of Mars held an ocean about 20 times the size of the Mediterranean, the researchers estimate.
The potassium-thorium-iron enriched areas occur below the older and younger paleo-ocean boundaries with respect to the entire region, they said. The scientists used data from Mars Global Surveyor's laser altimeter for topographic maps of the regions in their study.
They are reporting their findings in the article, "GRS Evidence and the Possibility of Paleo-oceans on Mars." The article will be published in a special edition of Planetary and Space Science, which stems from a June 2007 workshop on Mars and its Earth analogs held in Trento, Italy. UA Regents' Professor Victor Baker and Boynton, and other scientists from the United States, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Canada are co-authors.

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