News FocusPlanetary Science

A Dripping Wet Early Mars Emerging From New Pictures

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Science  08 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5498, pp. 1879-1880
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5498.1879

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The latest images from the Red Planet, a sampling of which is shown on page 1927, are suggesting that water ponded across its equatorial region eons ago, just when life might have been emerging. Although the authors offer more than one interpretation, the one they prefer has the sediments laid down beneath broad lakes and shallow seas at a relatively clement time in the planet's history. The geologic implications of the pictures plus supportive signs from earlier missions mean that these possible lake sediments will be prime candidates for NASA missions seeking signs of past life on Mars.