The uncertainty of science: According to a new analysis of the data from Curiosity and Martian orbiters, scientists now propose that the climate in Gale Crater was never warm, but ranged from Icelandic conditions to far colder.
More importantly, the data suggests that none of chemistry there that required the presence of water was formed by fluvial processes, or flowing water. From the abstract:
We show that the geochemistry and mineralogy of most of the fine‐grained sedimentary rocks in Gale crater display first order similarities with sediments generated in climates that resemble those of present‐day Iceland, while other parts of the stratigraphy indicate even colder baseline climate conditions. None of the lithologies examined at Gale crater resemble fluvial sediments or weathering profiles from warm (temperate to tropical) terrestrial climates. [emphasis mine]
As must be repeated, the mineralogy found by Curiosity points to the presence of water once in Gale Crater, now gone. The initial assumption has always been that this water must have been liquid, as found on Earth. This new research is noting that the conditions show little evidence that liquid water ever existed, but was instead held in frozen lakes and glaciers.
In the coming years I think we are going to learn a lot about the glaciers and ice on Mars, both past and present, and how they reshaped Mars in ways that are alien to processes found on Earth.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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