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New evidence for water on Mars
Posted: Thu, Jun 14, 2001, 9:03 AM ET (1303 GMT)
Hubble image of Mars Two separate reports this week have raised hopes that water, in liquid or ice form, was and may still be common on Mars. A French team of scientists announced Tuesday that a Mars meteorite discovered in the Sahara last year has a much lower ratio of deuterium to hydrogen than other nakhlite meteorites. The scientists said this low ratio is evidence that the meteorite was exposed to sources of water below the Martian surface, which could still exist to this day. However, they noted that the ratio they measured is similar to the D-to-H ratio for terrestrial water, and that thus the meteorite could be contaminated. Meanwhile, scientists from the Universities of Arizona and Hawaii published a report Wednesday that indicates that deposits of water ice may exist within 10 meters of the surface at the Martian equator. Their evidence comes from Mars Global Surveyor images of volcanic cones in lava flows that formed as recently as 10 million years ago. The cones are similar to "rootless cones" seen in Iceland where lava reacts explosively with subsurface water ice. The scientists conclude that the water ice had to be within 5 meters of the surface at the time of their formation, and would be no more than 10 meters below the surface now.
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