Friday, June 20, 2008

Researchers: "Ice and more seen in Mars trench at Ashland MA laboratory"

Click on the image for a close up time-lapse animation
Ashland, MA June 20, 2008: Researchers at a Massachusetts-based laboratory have been studying recent images from Mars and have commented on the images of Martian ice, including their interest in the shape of an outlined object revealed in today's images. "The outline of the ice-rich area indicates an area of high ice density relative to the surrounding soil" remarked Robert J Crowley of Soundwave Research Laboratories, who works primarily in medical imaging. "When we see a well defined outline surrounding an area we think is wet, we know we are looking at some boundary condition" he said. "After the ice sublimates or evaporates, there is a distinct dark area within the border, something that was present with the ice, something with low reflectivity, such as carbon, or oxidized materials, or it could simply be that after the ice dissipates, small voids comprise a less dense surface with low relative reflectivity."

Crowley thinks there could be even more to it. "There is a slight chance we are looking at the outline of more complex chemical processes that have been laying frozen for centuries, or longer" remarked Crowley, who had previously identified sinkholes on Mars from sets of Mars Orbiter images, which he studies. "The reason for the sharp boundary has to be explained. What mechanism could be responsible for such a clear edge surrounding what appears to be an ice-rich center?"

A previous observation by lab researchers is posted here. And here there is more reason for us to keep looking at things that NASA might miss. The next SkyCrane lowered Mars Rover will have a fantastic array of equipment and experiments onboard. Mars is alive - at least with Robots from Earth! Learn about the Curiosity Mars rover and its unique Sky Crane landing in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

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