Over three billion years ago, Mars had water. A lot more water than it has now.
Oceans of water, in fact. In a study published in Scientific Reports today, researchers found evidence of two large tsunami deposits on Mars, probably caused by large meteorites slamming into the early Martian ocean.
In addition to a massive wave of water, tsunamis carry along huge amounts of debris, some of which can be swept inland and left far beyond the shorelines. In this case, the waves created by the impacts were likely almost 400 feet high, and travelled hundreds of miles inland, carrying debris and scarring the landscape.
The two tsunamis on Mars likely occurred about 3 million years apart, enough time for the Martian climate to cool considerably. During the icy conditions of the second tsunami, large chunks of ice were likely pushed along, carried away from the ocean and left on the dry, cold surface. Researchers hope that eventually, those deposits could be examined for signs of whether the waters of Mars once had life.
To read the rest of this article, please visit Popular Science: 400-Foot High Tsunami Waves Ravaged Ancient Mars
PASADENA, Calif. — Four intriguing places on Mars have risen to the final round as NASA selects a landing site for its next Mars mission, the Mars Science Laboratory.
February 23, 2016
NOTE: While this is a press release that will also appear on the Press Release page, The editors felt that this might also appeal to the general audience. It talks about both the US Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent one year in space to study the effects of prolonged exposure to the rigors of space, and the announcement of the winner of a year-long photo contest on “Why Space Matters.”
January 20, 2016
MEDIA ADVISORY M16-005
*** NOTE: Press release are usually published under that page “Media Releases (Information for Journalist).” These press releases are usually meetings or presentation of studies. The public will most of the time have access to view or listen to most of these, but only credentialed media can ask question.
Also, before the meeting documentation may be made available, sometimes weeks before the meeting. If the documents are embargoed, we in the press know that means the information cannot be published before the embargo date and time. We use the time to pre-write our stories and prepare questions, but the embargo must be honored by all.
– George McGinn, Examining Life (And Things of Interest), Daily Defense News and Cosmology and Space Exploration news websites.
Want to become an astronaut to visit Mars?
Today, NASA put out a press release with information on how to apply to become an astronaut for the future manned flight to Mars.
Normally these just go into the page for Media Releases. But this is a good time to tell you that I have created a new page called:
below is the beginning of the press release. The link after it takes you to our new Media page.
While many options such as asking questions and getting access to their teleconference systems, with most press releases, if a meeting or a panel is conviened, NASA will allow the public to view it live either on its website or on NASA TV.
Each press release has all the information you need to watch and listen to the questions the press ask and the respones they get.
The link to the new page is: Media Releases (Information For Journalists)
This page is also available and lists below it with “–” showing the releases available. Click on the 3 lines in the upper right corner to see all the pages we have and to access all the press releases we get.
Here is the first two paragraph of the press release asking for applications to anyone who thinks they can become an astronaut. Good luck to anyone applying.
“In anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars, NASA announced it will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. With more human spacecraft in development in the United States today than at any other time in history, future astronauts will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.
The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at…”
- Rover examines geological contact zone near ‘Marias Pass’
- Silica-rich rocks identified nearby with laser-firing instrument
- Test of rover’s drill prepares for next use on Mars rock
Approaching the third anniversary of its landing on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has found a target unlike anything it has studied before — bedrock with surprisingly high levels of silica. Silica is a rock-forming compound containing silicon and oxygen, commonly found on Earth as quartz.
This area lies just downhill from a geological contact zone the rover has been studying near “Marias Pass” on lower Mount Sharp.
In fact, the Curiosity team decided to back up the rover 46 meters (151 feet) from the geological contact zone to investigate the high-silica target dubbed “Elk.” The decision was made after they analyzed data from two instruments, the laser-firing Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN), which showed higher amounts of silicon and hydrogen, respectively. High levels of silica in the rock could indicate ideal conditions for preserving ancient organic material, if present, so the science team wants to take a closer look.
“One never knows what to expect on Mars, but the Elk target was interesting enough to go back and investigate,” said Roger Wiens, the principal investigator of the ChemCam instrument from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. ChemCam is coming up on its 1,000th target, having already fired its laser more than 260,000 times since Curiosity landed on Mars Aug. 6, 2012, Universal Time (evening of Aug. 5, Pacific Time).
In other news, an engineering test on the rover’s sample-collecting drill on July 18 is aiding analysis of intermittent short circuits in the drill’s percussion mechanism, in preparation for using the drill in the area where the rover has been working for the past two months. The latest test did not result in any short circuits, so the team plans to continue with more tests, performed on the science targets themselves.
Before Curiosity began further investigating the high-silica area, it was busy scrutinizing the geological contact zone near Marias Pass, where a pale mudstone meets darker sandstone.
“We found an outcrop named Missoula where the two rock types came together, but it was quite small and close to the ground. We used the robotic arm to capture a dog’s-eye view with the MAHLI camera, getting our nose right in there,” said Ashwin Vasavada, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. MAHLI is short for Mars Hand Lens Imager.
The rover had reached this area after a steep climbed a 20-foot (6-meter) hill. Near the top of the climb, the ChemCam instrument fired its laser at the target Elk, and took a spectral reading of its composition.
“ChemCam acts like eyes and ears of the rover for nearby objects,” said Wiens.
The rover had moved on before analyzing the Elk data, so the rover performed a U-turn to get more data. Upon its return, the rover was able to study a similar target, “Lamoose,” up close with the MAHLI camera and the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS).
Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission now is to look at successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory developed ChemCam in partnership with scientists and engineers funded by the French national space agency. Russia’s space agency provided Curiosity’s DAN instrument. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.