Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mud volcanoes on Mars?

Researchers from NASA's Johnson Space Center think the UA's HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted mud volcanoes in the northern plains of that planet [right, University of Arizona/JPL/NASA]. Their paper will be presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference next week.

ASU planetary scientist Jack Farmer in an interview in New Scientist said the features could be mud volcanoes but may also be sedimentary remnants from retreating glaciers. However, either way, the presence of fine grained clays in the deposits would be ideal locations to look for organic molecules, "like amonia and proteins."

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