Press Release

NSS Hails Discovery of an Ancient Salty Sea on Mars

By SpaceRef Editor
March 24, 2004
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Finding Strengthens Case for Large Amounts of Ground Water on Mars Today Makes Future Human Mars Missions Much Easier

WASHINGTON, DC – National Space Society Executive Director George
Whitesides issued the following statement on the discovery that “a salty
sea” once existed near the Equator of Mars at the Meridiani Planum
landing site. This second major water-related discovery within a month
was made by the Mars Rover Teams at the same Opportunity rover landing

“This spectacular discovery vindicates those who have supported the
geological evidence for an early ‘wet’ Mars. It reinforces the chances
that salty liquid water still exists deep underground in many areas of
Mars. This suggests that Mars is a more hospitable place for human
exploration and settlement than previously thought, and may well make
the establishment of future human Mars bases and settlements much
easier. If large amounts of the water can be obtained by deep drilling,
it can be used for drinking, for washing, to create hydrogen for rocket
fuel, oxygen for breathing, and for processing rocks into useful
materials. We await the arrival of Opportunity at the large crater
‘Endurance’ which may hold even better clues to Mars’ past.”

The discovery was made by the identification of cross-bedding of fine
sediment layers in the rocks, producing a distinct and unique visual
pattern formed in the presence of gently moving water. This provides
strong evidence that the rocks were deposited in surface water, not by
underground water. Last week the Mars “Blueberrys” were found to be made
of hematite, which forms in water. The “rocks” themselves are actually
very similar to dry lake-bed deposits such as those at the Bonneville
Salt Flats in Utah. The presence of an ancient sea of unknown size
implies that other minerals dissolved in the ground water, containing
elements which will be very useful to humans in the future. 20

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The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, international,
educational, grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation
of a spacefaring civilization. The NSS has more than 22,000 members, and
50 chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Germany,
Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The NSS, founded in 1974, is widely
acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space.

SpaceRef staff editor.