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Fascinated by the outlandish? These images of the planet Mars are bound to have you hooked!

The base of Mars' Mount Sharp.

The surface of Mars

A view of Ophir Chasma on the northern portion of the vast Mars canyon system, Vallles Marineris, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The surface of Mars

Nili Patera, one of the most active dune fields on the planet Mars.

The surface of Mars

Rough spherical features in an area called Yellowknife Bay. These features are interpreted as concretions, implying they formed in water that percolated through pores in the sediment. Spherical concretions have previously been discovered in other rocks on Mars.

The surface of Mars

Curiosity appears as a bluish dot near the lower right corner of this enhanced-color view from Orbiter taken June 2013.

The surface of Mars

The surface of the planet Mars inside Gale Crater.

The surface of Mars

A rock outcrop called Link pops out from a Martian surface. Rounded gravel fragments, or clasts, up to a couple inches in size are in a matrix of white material. The outcrop characteristics are consistent with a sedimentary conglomerate, or a rock that was formed by the deposition of water and is composed of many smaller rounded rocks cemented together. Scientists enhanced the color in this version to show the Martian scene as it would appear under the lighting conditions we have on Earth.

The surface of Mars

Portions of the Martian surface showing many channels from 1 meter to 10 meters wide on a scarp in the Hellas impact basin.

Fascinated by the outlandish? These images of the planet Mars are bound to have you hooked!The base of Mars' Mount Sharp.

The surface of Mars

REUTERSA view of Ophir Chasma on the northern portion of the vast Mars canyon system, Vallles Marineris, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The surface of Mars

Nili Patera, one of the most active dune fields on the planet Mars.

The surface of Mars

Rough spherical features in an area called Yellowknife Bay. These features are interpreted as concretions, implying they formed in water that percolated through pores in the sediment. Spherical concretions have previously been discovered in other rocks on Mars.

The surface of Mars

Curiosity appears as a bluish dot near the lower right corner of this enhanced-color view from Orbiter taken June 2013.

The surface of Mars

The surface of the planet Mars inside Gale Crater.

The surface of Mars

A rock outcrop called Link pops out from a Martian surface. Rounded gravel fragments, or clasts, up to a couple inches in size are in a matrix of white material. The outcrop characteristics are consistent with a sedimentary conglomerate, or a rock that was formed by the deposition of water and is composed of many smaller rounded rocks cemented together. Scientists enhanced the color in this version to show the Martian scene as it would appear under the lighting conditions we have on Earth.

The surface of Mars

Portions of the Martian surface showing many channels from 1 meter to 10 meters wide on a scarp in the Hellas impact basin.

The surface of Mars

Part of the wall of Gale Crater. Here, a network of valleys believed to have formed by water erosion enters Gale Crater from the outside.

The surface of Mars

The northern-most sand dunes are seen as they begin to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) ice.

The surface of Mars

A location on Mars associated with the best-selling novel and Hollywood movie, "The Martian" This area is in the Acidalia Planitia region and in the novel and the movie, it is the landing site of a crewed mission named Ares 3.

The surface of Mars

An impact crater on Mars is seen in an image taken by Orbiter.

The surface of Mars

A view of the Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars, perched high on the Tharsis rise in the upper reaches of the Valles Marineris canyon system.

The surface of Mars

Inclined layering known as cross-bedding in an outcrop called Shaler on a scale of a few tenths of a meter.

The surface of Mars

Two trenches dug by Phoenix's Robotic Arm.

The surface of Mars

Mars' Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum.

The surface of Mars

An iron meteorite on Mars in an image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

The surface of Mars

This image, cropped from a larger panoramic image mosaic taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit panoramic camera shows the rover's destination toward the hills nicknamed the Columbia Hills. 

The surface of Mars

A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

The surface of Mars

A high-resolution image, using data from the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera's near-infrared, blue and green filters combined to create an approximate true-color image, of a puzzling rock outcropping to the northwest of the rover.

The surface of Mars

Author:  REUTERS

Source:  http://www.indiatimes.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

The search for life on Mars might just center around a strange funnel-shaped surface feature inside a crater, scientists say in a new study. Located in what is known as the Hellas depression, the feature could hold the “ingredients of life.”

The Daily Mail reported last week that a new study suggests that volcanic activity on Mars might have been a key contributor to the odd funnel depression that could be Mars’ best chance to host living organisms. Scientists have believed that a volcano located beneath a glacier on Mars’ surface created the Hellas depression, but new data taken from stereoscopic images and digital elevation models indicates that the formation is not only volcanic in origin, it might be similar to “ice cauldrons” on Earth. Such a formation could create an environment warm enough to host liquid water and chemical nutrients that might support life.

Ice cauldrons are found on Earth in places like Iceland and Greenland, created when volcanoes erupt under an ice sheet. On Mars, these same conditions potentially could host life.

Joseph Levy, a research associate and lead author of the study from the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, explained the reasoning behind the study’s site choice.

“We were drawn to this site because it looked like it could host some of the key ingredients for habitability – water, heat, and nutrients.”

The Hellas depression, as noted, is located in a crater at the edge of the Hellas basin. Ancient glacial deposits surround the feature.

Photo of Mars' Hellas basin

The Hellas basin on Mars. [Image by ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)/Getty Images]

Nor is the feature, which was first discovered in 2009 in images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, unique. It is similar to a depression in the Galaxias Fossae region.

“These landforms caught our eye because they’re weird looking. They’re concentrically fractured so they look like a bull’s-eye. That can be a very diagnostic pattern you see in Earth materials,” Levy admitted.

The study concluded that the two funnel structures were formed in different ways. The Galaxias Fossae depression seems to be a product of an impact, while the Hellas depression showed several indications of volcanism.

Levy and his fellow researchers suggest that such depressions on Mars should be considered as prime locations for the search for life on the Red Planet. The Hellas formation is of particular interest due to its possible volcanic origins and the potential for life-fostering properties.

The search for life on Mars might have received a boost or perhaps even a confirmation (or denial) of its existence last month had the Rocosmos and European Space Agency’s lander been able to continue its mission on the planet’s surface. Called Schiaparelli, the lander was an astrobiology project specifically designed to search for life on Mars. As the Inquisitr reported, Schiaparelli exploded on impact with the surface on October 19, a victim of its parachute deploying too early (although conspiracy theorists oddly accused NASA of shooting down the craft to maintain its scientific dominance).

Mars landscape at sunset

Mars life might be found first in a crater in the Hellas basin that exhibits a strange funnel-shaped depression. [Image by Jurik Peter/Shutterstock]

Beyond Mars, the search for life outside the bounds of the Solar System received help from the Parkes Observatory in Australia this week. According to Space.com, the telescope joined the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project, the astronomical initiative launched by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, becoming the third telescope in the line-up that includes the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory in Northern California.

“The addition of Parkes is an important milestone,” Milner said in a statement. “These major instruments are the ears of planet Earth, and now they are listening for signs of other civilizations.”

The Parkes dish’s first Breakthrough Listen observations were received from the nearest star system, Proxima Centauri, where a planet has been detected that exists in the star’s habitable zone.

Author:  Norman Byrd

Source:  http://www.inquisitr.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

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