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Looking for water in the rocks of other planets
Posted: Thu, Jan 25, 2001, 10:43 PM ET (0343 GMT)
Scientists wondering how much water existed on other planets are finding answers to their questions locked up in rocks. In an article published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, scientists from MIT and the Univ. of Tennessee concluded that Martian magmas might have contained far more water than previously thought. The scientists found that one meteorite of Martian origin, Shergotty, contained minerals that could have only formed if the rock originated from magmas that contained 2% water, far more than the 300 parts per million previously believed. The water came to the surface as vapor when volcanos erupted, and may have been a key source for liquid water in the planet's early history. In separate work published in the planetary science journal Icarus, Washington University scientists said that they found a mineral formed in the presence of water that could last for billions of years in the hot surface environment of Venus. If such a mineral, known as tremolite, could be found on Venus, it would be conclusive proof that liquid water once existed there. However, there are no plans to send spacecraft to Venus that could detect such minerals.
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