A picture of the layered outcrops of the West Candor Chasma taken by the Mars Global Surveyor MOC (Mars Orbiter Camera). The image has been colorized for better viewing.
Click on image for full size
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Exciting News from the Red Planet!
News story originally written on December 19, 2000
The Mars Global Surveyor
was launched on November 7, 1996. It has been in orbit around
Mars for over 1500 days. It may have made its greatest observation this
Pictures taken by the camera aboard the MGS show layers of sedimentary
rocks that could be evidence of past lakes and seas on Mars. As on Earth, sedimentary rocks
hold the history of the planet.
Right now, we think of Mars as just a bunch of dry rocks. But, "these
images tell us that early Mars was very dynamic and may have been a lot
more like Earth than many of us had been thinking," says Malin. Malin is
one of the principal investigators of the MGS program. He added, "I have
not previously been a vocal advocate of the theory that Mars was wet and
warm in its early history. But my earlier view of Mars was really shaken
when I saw our first high-
resolution pictures of Candor Chasma. The nearly identically thick layers
would be almost impossible to create without water."
But, these observations are only one piece in a very big puzzle. Some scientists think that the layers within these sedimentary rock formations
are so prominent because Mars was actually a lot colder and drier 3.5 billion years
ago, allowing for more dust to be airborne and thicker layers to be
It may seem confusing that some scientists take these observations as
confirmation of a wetter, warmer Mars, while others think exactly the
opposite thinking of a colder, drier Mars. This is the wonder of the
field of science. Only with further investigation, discussion, and
missions to the Martian surface will
we know for sure what these awesome surface features tell us about the
history of the Red Planet.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible at the same time in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see. You won't want to miss this!...more