Photograph by NASA, found at http://marsdata1.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/photoContest/index.cfm?pollContentID=7&getDetails=Yes&showHeader=Yes
I’ve been getting some data from my favorite planet–Mars!
Mars being researched right now by people looking for water; traces of it in the past, and water today.
Water leaves traces in a bunch of ways. There are minerals that can only form when there’s water around, and there are geologic formations that water can form. I look for both kinds of evidence for water.
Some of the minerals I’ve found that require water are hematite and carbonates. Hematite can form without water, as it has all over Mars. But what I found that shows there must have been water are called hematite spherules. These are tiny spheres of hematite, embedded in a martian rock. They’re more commonly called “blueberries”. They could have formed as concretions, which only form when there’s liquid water, but the blueberries still don’t definitively prove the existence of water on Mars. There are other ways they could have formed, like as martian tektites.
There are other minerals that can only form with water, such as carbonate minerals like calcite and limestone. The Spirit rover has found evidence of carbonates in the Gusev Crater. You know what this means? Water! Rovers rock!
Channels on Mars were discovered a long time ago, yet exogeologists are still debating how they were made. One theory says that the channels are riverbeds, so they would have been made by water. But another says that the channels were made by lava. I’m still trying to decipher the history of the channels. But I’m hopeful that water had something to do with it.
The Phoenix rover took part in the search for water. It looked for water as part of its mission, and actually found some! I’ll say it again, rovers ROCK!
I’ve found lots of evidence for water on Mars, but I need more proof before I can say for sure that any large amounts of it existed on Mars. I think that “follow the water” is a great goal for the Mars program. I’ll have to keep searching!