NASA will unveil new discoveries this week that involve alien oceans in Earth’s solar system, space agency officials announced today (April 10).
by Tariq Malik, April 10th 2017
On Thursday, April 13, NASA will hold a press conference that will “discuss new results about ocean worlds in our solar system,” according to a press release from the agency. The discovery will involve findings from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Saturn.
“These new discoveries will help inform ocean world exploration — including NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s — and the broader search for life beyond Earth,” NASA officials wrote in the same press release.
NASA’s ocean worlds press conference will begin at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Thursday and include a question-and-answer session with a panel of scientists from the Cassini and Hubble missions, as well as NASA’s planetary exploration and science directorates.
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Volcanic Activity on Ancient Mars May Have Produced Organic Life
Even a cursory look at a global map of Mars reveals how huge its volcanoes are. The famous Olympus Mons rises three times higher than Mt. Everest, and is just one of several volcanoes that adorn the Red Planet’s famous Tharsis ridge. Presumably, when these volcanoes were more actively spewing gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur, they must have had a determining influence on the Martian atmosphere.
A new paper in the journal Icarus suggests that these volcanoes may in fact have created an environment habitable to ancient microbes. Specifically, a new model showing a range of volcanic eruptions shows that Mars’ atmosphere could have been made anoxic, with depleted levels of oxygen and limited oxygen-based reactions.
“These results imply that ancient Mars should have experienced periods with anoxic and reducing atmospheres even through the mid-Amazonian whenever volcanic outgassing was sustained at sufficient levels,” the researchers wrote. “Reducing anoxic conditions are potentially conducive to the synthesis of prebiotic organic compounds, such as amino acids, and are therefore relevant to the possibility of life on Mars.”
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