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Studies question early wet Mars, find ice at south pole
Posted: Fri, Dec 6, 2002, 10:42 AM ET (1542 GMT)
Hubble image of Mars A pair of papers published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science has provided new insights in the past and present status of water on Mars. One study by Colorado and NASA Ames scientists questioned the hypothesis that early Mars was warm enough to support liquid water, based on images of geological features created by flowing water. The new study believes that Mars was mostly cold and dry during this time, with only brief episodes of warm, wet conditions created by impacts of large icy objects. If true, it may mean that early Mars was far less hospitable to life than previously thought. Another study by USGS and Arizona State researchers used data from the Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft to identify deposits of water ice on the surface of the south polar cap. Similar ice deposits had been seen for years in the northern cap, but had not been previously found in the southern cap. The discovery could mean that far larger amounts of water ice exist below the surface.
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