Curious Mars

Mars: February 2009

Based on new image data from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a case can be made that several structures in Vernal Crater, Arabia Terra are ancient springs. This interpretation is based on comprehensive geomorphologic analysis coupled with assessment of multiple hypotheses.

Liquid water is essential to life as we know it on Earth; therefore, the search for water on Mars is a critical component of the search for life. Olivine, a mineral identified as present on Mars, has been proposed as an indicator of the duration and characteristics of water because it dissolves quickly, particularly under low-pH conditions. The duration of olivine persistence relative to glass under conditions of aqueous alteration reflects the pH and temperature of the reacting fluids.