April 13, 2010

Evidence Of Water On Moon, Mars Mounting

Two studies released on Monday provide increasing evidence that water exists not just on the moon, but on Mars as well.

According to Reuters, one study showed that "ice deposits at least 6 feet thick can be found in some small craters on the moon" while the other "suggested that ice has recently melted and re-frozen on Mars, widening some of the characteristic gullies on its surface."

The first report, written by researchers at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston and published in Geophysical Research Letters, used data obtained from India's Chandrayaan spacecraft to uncover ice deposits in shadows located on the moon. The researchers believe that the water was the result of comets and meteorites impacting the lunar surface.

The second study, completed by Dennis Reiss and a team of researchers of the Institute for Planetology at Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat in Munster, Germany, found that a 6-foot wide gully on Mars had become almost 400-feet longer over a two year span. They believe that the cause was most likely the melting of minute quantities of water ice.

"The two studies add to the political and scientific debate about how best to explore our solar system and the universe--with missions that include human crews, or experiments using robots and remote surveys," says an April 12 Reuters article.

In the U.S., the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently cancelled a scheduled return trip to the moon, claiming project delays as one of the primary reasons. However, earlier this month they announced plans to work towards a manned mission to Mars, though no timetable was established for the proposed mission.


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