CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Education

January 29, 2014

Water, condition for life on Mars, confirmed by second NASA rover

SAN FRANCISCO —  Samples from the rim of a 3.7 billion year old crater on Mars are the earliest evidence of water activity yet discovered, confirming previous findings that conditions existed on the now-rocky planet for life formation.

A group of rocks called the Matijevic formation suggested mild conditions on Mars billions of years ago, according to a finding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Opportunity rover, which touched down on the planet in 2004. The discovery was published on line Thursday in the journal Science.

The finding adds to the more-recent Curiosity mission, which also found evidence of ancient habitability 3.5 billion years ago. While that doesn't mean life actually formed on Mars, it gives scientists more hope, said Raymond Arvidson, the study author and head of NASA's Planetary Data System Geosciences Node.

"The older you go in geologic time, the wetter it was on the surface, and the more evidence for flowing water and ground water, under conditions that are more earth-like," said Arvidson, who also is a professor at Washington University at St. Louis.

Later in Mars's history, the ground water was more acidic and salty, making it difficult for even the most extreme known bacteria to live, Arvidson said in a telephone interview.

The discovery was made on Endeavor, an ancient impact crater from the first period of geologic time, Arvidson said. It has since been heavily eroded by water. The rover found a clay mineral that forms in water under mildly acidic conditions. Though Endeavor is old, the Matijevic formation is even older, and is made of rocks that were sitting on Mars when the asteroid or comet that created the crater hit.

The researchers also found a kind of clay that commonly forms on earth when water flows through fractures in the rock. That suggests a lot of mild groundwater leeched material from the rocks, Arvidson said.

It isn't clear that the conditions were right to preserve any carbon, which can be a signature of life. If Curiosity, the rover that landed on Mars in 2012, were to drive to the Matijevic formation and sample it, that may aid in determining whether any carbon was there.

The younger rover is now headed toward Mt. Sharp, which is composed of about 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) of layered sedimentary rock, which Arvidson described as "a geological strip chart recorder" of Mars's history.

"This is way beyond saying we have water on Mars," he said. "This is trying to get to past chemical conditions of the water, and say something about habitability, and directing future missions to the juiciest havens."



 

1
Text Only
Education
  • Winston County Technology Center Wins AAA/Ford Auto Skills State Championship

    Twenty high school automotive students from across the state turned out in hopes of tuning out the competition today in the State Finals of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. The students fought for scholarships in the automotive industry and for the chance to advance to the National Finals, which take place at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The competition, which is geared toward students looking to jumpstart their careers in the automotive industry, is especially relevant for today’s struggling economy, in which car owners are putting more money into car repair and maintenance as a way of avoiding the big-ticket purchase of a new car.

    April 16, 2014

  • Variety of classes offered during Homeschool Spring Workshops

    Wallace State Community College’s Continuing Education Department has a full slate of classes to offer homeschool students this spring with the second session as a continuation of the first session.
     

    April 14, 2014

  • WSCC invesTECHgate 1.jpg Wallace State to host approximately 600 high school juniors during ‘InvesTECHgate’ week beginning April 14   

    Wallace State Community College will host its third annual “InvesTECHgate” week beginning April 14, and this year’s event should be the biggest draw yet.
    Various Wallace State technical programs are set to be flooded with approximately 600 high school juniors from Blount, Cullman and Morgan Counties. InvesTECHgate allows high school students who may be interested in pursuing a career in the technical field to get an in-depth look at those programs on the collegiate level.
     

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • WSCC Ponder named gold scholar.jpg Wallace State Sophomore Ponder named 2014 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar

    Levi Ponder, a 2012 Vinemont graduate, is one of only 50 Gold Scholars among qualified candidates across 38 states, standing out among more than 1,700 applicants. The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic team and it will recognize Ponder at the Phi Theta Kappa National Convention on Friday, April 26 in Orlando, Fla.
     

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commentary: At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 7, 2014

  • Wallace State Earns National Award for Marketing

    Wallace State Community College in Hanceville was recognized by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) for its “Hot Jobs” television advertisement series during the Medallion Awards ceremony at organization’s annual conference in March in New Orleans. The commercials, which spotlight career opportunities related to degree and certificate programs offered by the college, are part of Wallace State’s popular Be One of Us marketing campaign.
     

    April 4, 2014

  • Samford University to Host Minority Youth Science Academy July 6-9

    Samford University will host a Minority Youth Science Academy July 6-9 to help prepare outstanding minority high school students who aspire to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    April 2, 2014

  • Wallace State’s Practical Nursing program tops state ranking

    The Practical Nursing program at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., is at the top of the list when it comes to the success of students passing the National Council Licensure for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam.

    March 31, 2014

  • Wallace State set to help with new GED exam

    With the changes in how the exam is administered and new fees, Wallace State Community College’s Adult Education program has taken steps to make sure students seeking to earn their GED are successful in their efforts.
     

    March 21, 2014

  • WSCC Sloan earns 99s WSCC Flight Technology student Chelsie Sloan becomes first female in program to earn Ninety-Nines, Inc. scholarship

    Wallace State Community College dual enrollment student Chelsie Sloan wasn’t sure about her career path as she approached her senior year at Corner High School.

    March 19, 2014 1 Photo