PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Remains of a modern glacier found near mars’ equator implies water ice possibly present at low latitudes on Mars even today

If there is still water ice preserved at shallow depths at a low latitude on Mars, there would be implications for science and human exploration

Remains of a modern glacier found near mars’ equator implies water ice possibly present at low latitudes on Mars even today
2023-03-15
(Press-News.org) March 15, 2023, Mountain View, California – In a groundbreaking announcement at the 54th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held in The Woodlands, Texas, scientists revealed the discovery of a relict glacier near Mars' equator. Located in Eastern Noctis Labyrinthus at coordinates 7° 33' S, 93° 14' W, this finding is significant as it implies the presence of surface water ice on Mars in recent times, even near the equator. This discovery raises the possibility that ice may still exist at shallow depths in the area, which could have significant implications for future human exploration.

The surface feature identified as a "relict glacier" is one of many light-toned deposits (LTDs) found in the region. Typically, LTDs consist mainly of light-colored sulfate salts, but this deposit also shows many of the features of a glacier, including crevasse fields and moraine bands. The glacier is estimated to be 6 kilometers long and up to 4 kilometers wide, with a surface elevation ranging from +1.3 to +1.7 kilometers. This discovery suggests that Mars' recent history may have been more watery than previously thought, which could have implications for understanding the planet's habitability.

“What we’ve found is not ice, but a salt deposit with the detailed morphologic features of a glacier. What we think happened here is that salt formed on top of a glacier while preserving the shape of the ice below, down to details like crevasse fields and moraine bands,” said Dr. Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist with the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute, and the lead author of the study.

The presence of volcanic materials blanketing the region hints of how the sulfate salts might have formed and preserved a glacier’s imprint underneath. When freshly erupted pyroclastic materials (mixtures of volcanic ash, pumice, and hot lava blocks) come in contact with water ice, sulfate salts like the ones commonly making up Mars’ light-toned deposits may form and build up into a hardened, crusty salt layer.

“This region of Mars has a history of volcanic activity. And where some of the volcanic materials came in contact with glacier ice, chemical reactions would have taken place at the boundary between the two to form a hardened layer of sulfate salts,” explains Sourabh Shubham, a graduate student at the University of Maryland’s Department of Geology, and a co-author of the study. “This is the most likely explanation for the hydrated and hydroxylated sulfates we observe in this light-toned deposit.”

Over time, with erosion removing the blanketing volcanic materials, a crusty layer of sulfates mirroring the glacier ice underneath became exposed, which would explain how a salt deposit is now visible, presenting features unique to glaciers such as crevasses and moraine bands.

“Glaciers often present distinctive types of features, including marginal, splaying, and tic-tac-toe crevasse fields, and also thrust moraine bands and foliation. We are seeing analogous features in this light-toned deposit, in form, location, and scale. It’s very intriguing,” said John Schutt, a geologist at the Mars Institute, experienced icefield guide in the Arctic and Antarctica, and a co-author of this study.

The glacier’s fine-scale features, its associated sulfate salts deposit, and the overlying volcanic materials are all very sparsely cratered by impacts and must be geologically young, likely Amazonian in age, the latest geologic period which includes modern Mars. “We’ve known about glacial activity on Mars at many locations, including near the equator in the more distant past. And we’ve known about recent glacial activity on Mars, but so far, only at higher latitudes. A relatively young relict glacier in this location tells us that Mars experienced surface ice in recent times, even near the equator, which is new,” said Lee.

It remains to be seen whether water ice might still be preserved underneath the light-toned deposit or if it has disappeared entirely. “Water ice is, at present, not stable at the very surface of Mars near the equator at these elevations. So, it’s not surprising that we’re not detecting any water ice at the surface. It is possible that all the glacier’s water ice has sublimated away by now. But there’s also a chance that some of it might still be protected at shallow depth under the sulfate salts.”

The study draws an analogy with the ancient ice islands on salt lakebeds, or salars, of the Altiplano in South America. There, old glacier ice has remained protected from melting, evaporation, and sublimation underneath blankets of bright salts. Lee and his co-authors hypothesize a similar situation to explain how sulfate salts on Mars might be able to offer protection to otherwise sublimation-vulnerable ice at low latitudes on the planet.

If there is still water ice preserved at shallow depths at a low latitude on Mars, there would be implications for science and human exploration. “The desire to land humans at a location where they might be able to extract water ice from the ground has been pushing mission planners to consider higher latitude sites. But the latter environments are typically colder and more challenging for humans and robots. If there were equatorial locations where ice might be found at shallow depth, then we’d have the best of both environments: warmer conditions for human exploration and still access to ice,” said Lee.

But Lee cautions that more work still needs to be done: “We now have to determine if, and how much, water ice might actually be present in this relict glacier, and whether other light-toned deposits might also have, or have had, ice-rich substrates.”

About the SETI Institute
Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multidisciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the universe and share that knowledge with the world. Research at the SETI Institute encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.

About Mars Institute
The Mars Institute is a non-profit research organization dedicated to the advancement of Mars science, exploration, and the public understanding of Mars. Research at the Mars Institute focuses Mars and other planetary destinations that may serve as stepping-stones to Mars, in particular Mars’ moons, our Moon, and near-Earth objects. The Mars Institute investigates the technologies and strategies that will enable and optimize the future human exploration of Mars. The Mars Institute operates the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station on Devon Island, High Arctic.

DOWNLOAD FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE.

For more information, contact:

Rebecca McDonald
Director of Communications
SETI Institute
339 Bernardo Ave, Suite 200
Mountain View, CA 94043
USA
E-mail: rmcdonald@seti.org
Tel: 650-960-4526

Dr Pascal Lee
Planetary Scientist
SETI Institute & Mars Institute
NASA Ames Research Center
MS 245-3
Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000
USA
E-mail: pascal.lee@marsinstitute.net

 

 

END

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Remains of a modern glacier found near mars’ equator implies water ice possibly present at low latitudes on Mars even today Remains of a modern glacier found near mars’ equator implies water ice possibly present at low latitudes on Mars even today 2

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Associations between teacher and student mathematics, science, and literacy anxiety in fourth grade

2023-03-15
Educational Impact and Implications Statement We investigated associations among teachers’ and students’ anxiety in mathematics, science, and literacy. We found that teachers’ anxiety in mathematics and science was associated with the mathematics and science anxiety of their low-SES students. Results highlight STEM content areas as contexts in which transmission of negative emotions between teachers and students may take place, as well as highlight the particular impacts these processes might have on students from underserved socioeconomic backgrounds. The ...

Kerin Adelson, M.D., named MD Anderson Chief Quality and Value Officer

2023-03-15
HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced Kerin Adelson, M.D., as the institution’s chief quality and value officer. An accomplished clinician and researcher with extensive leadership experience in delivering high-quality and value-based cancer care, Adelson will begin her role March 20. She also will hold a faculty appointment in Breast Medical Oncology. As chief quality and value officer, Adelson will partner with Chief Administrative Quality Officer José Rivera to lead MD Anderson’s medical practice quality improvement efforts and ...

For the first time, controlling the degree of twist in nanostructured particles

2023-03-15
Images Micron-sized "bow ties," self-assembled from nanoparticles, form a variety of different curling shapes that can be precisely controlled, a research team led by the University of Michigan has shown.    The development opens the way for easily producing materials that interact with twisted light, providing new tools for machine vision and producing medicines.    While biology is full of twisted structures like DNA, known as chiral structures, the degree of twist is locked in—trying to change it breaks the structure. Now, researchers can engineer the degree of twist.    Such materials ...

Study unravels a cause of resistance to novel drug in patients with acute leukemia

2023-03-15
BOSTON – A new targeted drug has not only sparked remissions in patients with a common form of leukemia but also induced the cancer cells to reveal one of their schemes for resisting the drug, investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other research centers report in a new pair of studies in the journal Nature. One of the papers presents results of a clinical trial in which approximately 40% of patients with acute leukemia subtypes had a complete response – a disappearance of all signs of cancer – to treatment with the drug revumenib. The other paper uncovers a molecular countermove by which leukemia cells come to sidestep the drug and reassert their growth. The ...

Making sense of scents: Deciphering our sense of smell

2023-03-15
Breaking a longstanding impasse in our understanding of olfaction, scientists at UC San Francisco (UCSF) have created the first molecular-level, 3D picture of how an odor molecule activates a human odorant receptor, a crucial step in deciphering the sense of smell. The findings, appearing online March 15, 2023, in Nature, are poised to reignite interest in the science of smell with implications for fragrances, food science, and beyond. Odorant receptors - proteins that bind odor molecules on the surface of olfactory cells - make up half of the largest, most diverse family of receptors in our bodies; A deeper understanding of them paves the way for ...

Scientists discover key information about the function of mitochondria in cancer cells

2023-03-15
Scientists have long known that mitochondria, the "powerhouses" of cells, play a crucial role in the metabolism and energy production of cancer cells. However, until now, little was known about the relationship between the structural organization of mitochondrial networks and their functional bioenergetic activity at the level of whole tumors. In a new study, published in Nature, researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center used positron emission tomography (PET) in combination ...

Artificial Sweetener could dampen immune response to disease in mice

2023-03-15
Francis Crick Institute press release Under strict embargo: 16:00hrs GMT Wednesday, March 15, 2023 Peer reviewed Experimental study Animals / Cells   Artificial Sweetener could dampen immune response to disease in mice Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have found that high consumption of a common artificial sweetener, sucralose, lowers activation of T-cells, an important component of the immune system, in mice. If found to have similar effects in humans, one day it could be used therapeutically to help dampen T-cell responses. For example, in patients with autoimmune diseases who ...

New research shows recovering tropical forests offset just one quarter of carbon emissions from new tropical deforestation and forest degradation

New research shows recovering tropical forests offset just one quarter of carbon emissions from new tropical deforestation and forest degradation
2023-03-15
A pioneering global study has found deforestation and forests lost or damaged due to human and environmental change, such as fire and logging, are fast outstripping current rates of forest regrowth. Tropical forests are vital ecosystems in the fight against both climate and ecological emergencies. The research, published today in Nature and led by the University of Bristol, highlights the carbon storage potential and the current limits of forest regrowth to addressing such crises. The findings showed degraded forests recovering from human disturbances, and secondary forests regrowing ...

Targeting menin induces responses in acute leukemias with KMT2A rearrangements or NPM1 mutations

2023-03-15
Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center showed that inhibiting menin with revumenib, previously known as SNDX-5613, yielded encouraging responses for advanced acute leukemias with KMT2A rearrangements or mutant NPM1. Findings from the Phase I AUGMENT-101 trial were published today in Nature. The overall response rate among 60 patients was 53%, and the rate of complete remission or complete remission with partial hematologic recovery was 30%, with 78% of patients achieving clearance of measurable residual disease. Responses were seen across multiple dose ...

Bird flu associated with hundreds of seal deaths in New England in 2022, Tufts researchers find

2023-03-15
Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was associated with the deaths of more than 330 New England harbor and gray seals along the North Atlantic coast in June and July 2022, and the outbreak was connected to a wave of avian influenza in birds in the region. The study was published on March 15 in the journal Emerging Infectious Disease. HPAI is more commonly known as bird flu, and the H5N1 strain has been responsible for about 60 million poultry ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

12.5, the 1st Impact Factor of COMMTR released!

Circadian clock impact on cluster headaches funded by $2.4M NIH grant for UTHealth Houston research

Study identifies first drug therapy for sleep apnea

How old is your bone marrow?

Boosting biodiversity without hurting local economies

ChatGPT is biased against resumes with credentials that imply a disability — but it can improve

Simple test for flu could improve diagnosis and surveillance

UT Health San Antonio researcher awarded five-year, $2.53 million NIH grant to study alcohol-assisted liver disease

Giving pre-med students hands-on clinical training

CAMH research suggests potential targets for prevention and early identification of psychotic disorders

Mapping the heart to prevent damage caused by a heart attack

Study challenges popular idea that Easter islanders committed ‘ecocide’

Chilling discovery: Study reveals evolution of human cold and menthol sensing protein, offering hope for future non-addictive pain therapies.

Elena Beccalli, new rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, takes office on 1st July

Pacific Northwest Research Institute uncovers hidden DNA mechanisms of rare genetic diseases

Empowering older adults: Wearable tech made easier with personalized support

Pennington Biomedical researchers partner on award-winning Long Covid study

Cooling ‘blood oranges’ could make them even healthier – a bonus for consumers

Body image and overall health found important to the sexual health of older gay men, according to new studies

Lab-grown muscles reveal mysteries of rare muscle diseases

Primary hepatic angiosarcoma: Treatment options for a rare tumor

Research finds causal evidence tying cerebral small-vessel disease to Alzheimer’s, dementia

Navigating the Pyrocene: Recent Cell Press papers on managing fire risk

Restoring the Great Salt Lake would have environmental justice as well as ecological benefits

Cannabis, tobacco use, and COVID-19 outcomes

A 5:2 intermittent fasting meal replacement diet and glycemic control for adults with diabetes

Scientists document self-propelling oxygen decline in the oceans

Activating molecular target reverses multiple hallmarks of aging

Cannabis use tied to increased risk of severe COVID-19

How to make ageing a ‘fairer game’ for all wormkind

[Press-News.org] Remains of a modern glacier found near mars’ equator implies water ice possibly present at low latitudes on Mars even today
If there is still water ice preserved at shallow depths at a low latitude on Mars, there would be implications for science and human exploration