PerspectiveMARS

Water, Climate, and Life

Science  29 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5402, pp. 648-649
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5402.648

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Summary

The search for life on Mars cannot be carried out strictly by seeking evidence of life itself. Rather, the entire planet must be understood to determine whether Mars may once have harbored life. In his Perspective, Jakosky discusses new results from the Mars Global Surveyor project that were presented at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union (San Francisco, December 1998). Instruments on the spacecraft have been used to discover substantial ancient magnetism, large concentrations of the important iron-bearing mineral hematite, and new information about the polar topography of Mars. The new findings point to complex interweaving of many geophysical processes and confirm that conditions were right for a watery past, which could have been one ingredient in supporting life on the planet.