Mars Makes Close Pass By Earth | Connecticut Public Radio

Cristina Cross
July 31, 2018

The announcement of the presence of liquid water beneath the surface of Martian poles validates research published by PSI Senior Scientist Stephen Clifford back in 1987. "We'll still need to drill, still need suction, and given the temperatures on Mars, any exposed liquid water would freeze, so there still needs to be a way to turn ice into water", Padir said. With Elon Musk's ambitious plans to send manned Missions to Mars and colonize it in coming decades, the new discovery is very important for exploring life on Mars and plan future human colonies and more ambitious expeditions for terraforming the red planet. The discoveries, if affirmed, would stamp the recognition of the biggest body of liquid water on Mars. Mars was captured on July 18, at just 36.9 million miles from Earth, near its July 27 opposition. The combined observations will aid planetary scientists in building a better understanding of how global storms arise on the Red Planet.

But dissolved salts of magnesium, calcium, and sodium - known to be present in Martian rocks - are thought to maintain the briny miniature sea by reducing the melting point of water to minus 74C.

Between 2012 and December 2015 the Planum Australe region was mapped by the Mars Advance Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (Marsis) instrument carried on the orbiter. Then, concerned that their hope the bright spots might be water could blind them to other explanations, Orosei and colleagues spent nearly as long trying to demolish their own data.

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Martha Gilmore is a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Wesleyan University. An interface between ice and water, or alternatively between ice and water -saturated sediments, produces bright radar reflections.

It has taken the persistence of scientists working with this subsurface-probing instrument to develop new techniques in order to collect as much high-resolution data as possible to confirm their exciting conclusion. Because of gravitational influences and the tilt of the planets' orbits, Mars sometimes comes even closer than usual to Earth - the 2003 opposition was the closest pass in almost 60,000 years. "And then the planet sets, and then the sun comes up in the morning". "It's a finding that should be closely examined by the rest of the radar community to be sure we can rule out other alternative explanations - something I think the authors have already made an excellent effort at doing", Clifford said.

But even if the weather conditions are great in space, the visibility of cosmic events depends on Earth's atmosphere as well.

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