News / Science & Technology

New Findings Point to Stormier, Wetter Ancient Mars

This undated image taken by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Rome/Southwest Research Institute shows a recently discovered underground deposit of carbon dioxide ice in the Martian south pole
This undated image taken by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Rome/Southwest Research Institute shows a recently discovered underground deposit of carbon dioxide ice in the Martian south pole

A robotic U.S. space probe circling Mars has discovered a massive deposit of frozen carbon dioxide beneath the red planet's southern pole.  U.S. space agency scientists say the evidence suggests that our frigid, barren neighbor in the solar system may have been a stormier and wetter world in the distant past than previously believed, and that it could become so again in the future.

Ground-penetrating radar aboard NASA’s unmanned Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected the huge underground reservoir of frozen CO2 gas, also known asdry ice.. Scientists already knew there is a perennial cap of dry ice sitting atop the water ice at Mars' south polar region. But this newly found deposit is 30 times thicker than previously estimated.

NASA scientists believe changes in the tilt of Mars' axis every 100,000 years expose the frozen southern pole toward the sun. The warming sunlight triggers a prolonged, but weak, greenhouse effect as huge quantities of the frozen CO2 vaporize, thickening the Martian atmosphere, strengthening winds and causing more frequent and intense dust storms. When the planet eventually tilts its southern pole away from the sun again, the CO2 gas refreezes beneath the surface.  

Scientists speculate that the denser, warmer atmosphere of Mars’ distant past could have created more places on the red planet where liquid, flowing water might have existed. They believe the weak greenhouse effect would not have warmed Mars enough, however, to sustain large bodies of liquid water on the surface. The Martian atmosphere is still too thin to prevent liquid water from boiling and evaporating.

Liquid water is considered a key condition for life. NASA scientists say the increased CO2 in the ancient Martian atmosphere, though, would have had very little impact on the possibility of life on Mars.

NASA scientists say the newly found layer of dry ice lies beneath a thin veneer of previously detected frozen water and CO2. It has a volume of between 9,500 and 12,000 cubic kilometers. That is equal to around 80 percent of all the CO2 currently in the thin Martian atmosphere, which is less than 1 percent of the Earth’s.

Research findings on the discovery were published this week in the journal, Science.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More