Jan 22 2013, 1:24pm CST | by Jeffrey B. Roth
That conclusion comes from an analysis of spectrometer data sent by the orbiting spacecraft, which was examining the floor of the 57-mile/92-kilometer-wide by 1.4-mile/2.2-kilometer-deep McLaughlin Crater. Scientists believe that the crater's depth once allowed underground water to flow in to the crater's interior.
A layer of flat rocks of carbonate and clay minerals that compose the bottom of the crater may indicate the past presence of liquid water. The crater lacks large inflow channels and small channels originating within the crater wall near a level that could mark the surface of a lake.
The findings were published Sunday in the online edition of “Natural Geoscience.” Some researchers propose the crater interior catching the water and the underground zone contributing the water could have been wet environments and potential habitats.
“Taken together, the observations in McLaughlin Crater provide the best evidence for carbonate forming within a lake environment instead of being washed into a crater from outside,” said Joseph Michalski, lead author of the paper, which was co-authored by five others. Michalski is also affiliated with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson Ariz., and London's Natural History Museum.
The MRO, which carries six instruments, was launched in 2005. It has provided more high-resolution data about Mars than all other orbiters combined. Data transmitted by the planetary probe is shared worldwide with scientists, who then research analyze and report the findings.
McLaughlin Crater sits at the low end of a regional slope several hundreds of miles long on the western side of the Arabia Terra region of Mars. As on Earth, groundwater-fed lakes are expected to occur at low regional elevations. Therefore, this site would be a good candidate for such a process.
Jeffrey B. Roth
A multi-award winning writer, Jeffrey B. Roth is a well-known investigative reporter, who covers crime, law, politics, sciences, business, medicine, education, history and a wide range of other topics. In 2010, Roth won first place for a new series in the Keystone Press Awards, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. A published short story writer and poet, Roth is listed in the Locus Index of Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors. Currently, Roth writes for CBS Philadelphia, CBS Baltimore, the Philadelphia Examiner and regional publications, including Carroll Magazine, Carroll Business Quarterly and Hagerstown Magazine to name a few. In the past, Roth, a former crisis intervention counselor and teacher, has written for numerous Pennsylvania newspapers, state and national magazines and the Associated Press. He lives in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, west of Gettysburg, Pa.
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