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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation MYSTERY SOLVED: Mars had large oceans!


A view of Mars as it might have appeared more than 2 billion years ago, with an ocean filling the lowland basin that now occupies the north polar region.

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Since 1991, planetary scientists have floated the idea that Mars once harbored vast oceans that covered roughly one-third of the planet. Two long shore-like lips of rock in the planet's northern hemisphere were thought to be the best evidence, but experts argued that they were too "hilly" to describe the smooth edges of ancient oceans.

The view just changed dramatically with a surprisingly simple breakthrough.

The once-flat shorelines were disfigured by a massive toppling over of the planet, scientists announced today. The warping of the Martian rock has hidden clear evidence of the oceans, which in any case have been gone for at least 2 billion years.

"This really confirms that there was an ocean on Mars," said Mark Richards, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Berkeley and co-author of the study, which is detailed in the June 14 issue of the journal Nature.

Twin shores
Two major shorelines exist on Mars, each thousands of miles long one remaining from the older Arabia Ocean, and another from the younger Deuteronilus Ocean, said study co-author Taylor Perron of UC Berkeley.

"The Arabia would have contained two to three times the volume of water than in the ice that covers Antarctica," Perron told SPACE.com.

Somewhere along the way to toppling over 50 degrees to the north, Mars probably lost some of its water, leaving the Deuteronilus Ocean's shoreline exposed. "The volume of water was too large to simply evaporate into space, so we think there is still some subterranean reservoirs on Mars," Perron said.

The remaining sea would have been located in the same lowland plain as the Arabia Ocean, but almost 40 degrees to the north.

Unstable spin
As a planet spins, the heaviest things tend to shift towards the equator, where they are most stable. Earth, too, has a bulge at its equator. The volcanic Tharsis region of Mars, a vast raised area along Mars' equator, is evidence for how this works.

"This is the reason why this discovery packs extra punch," Perron said. More than a billion years ago, he explained, something happened in the way mass was distributed on Mars to cause the imbalanced portion to shift toward the equator-and allow the vast shores of the Martian oceans to warp.

"We found evidence of the path the shift would have to have occurred, and it matches with the deformation of the shorelines," Perron said.

Near the equator, the surface of a planet stays in a relatively flattened bulge under the pressure of centripetal forces. But outside of the equator, the rock behaves elastically and often bunches up, like the surface of a deflating balloon. Perron and his team reasoned that the oceanic shorelines were once near the equator, but warped into hilly up-and-down elevations of rock as they move towards the north with the tilting planet.

"On planets like Mars and Earth that have an outer shell ... that behaves elastically, the solid surface will deform," Richards said.

By calculating the deformation, which occurs in a predictable way, the planetary research team found the ridges had to have once been flat, like ocean shorelines.

"This is a beautiful result that Taylor [Perron] got," Richards said. "The mere fact that you can explain a good fraction of the information about the shorelines with such a simple model is just amazing. It's something I never would have guessed at the outset."

Perron and his colleagues aren't certain what caused the toppling of the planet, but they think forces beneath the surface are to blame. "There could have been a massive change in the distribution of mantle," Perron said, "which would have caused the planet to shift into its current position."
WOW! This is crazy! I don't know what to say...all I know is I got some thinkin to do!


Mystery solved: Mars had large oceans - Space.com - MSNBC.com
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 10:24 AM
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whenever I hear the word "subterranean" my mind starts to go at top speed

this makes me wanna run around randomly yelling "science!" like thomas dolby b/c it's so cool
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 10:51 AM
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Excellent find!
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 12:18 PM
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I hate to shit on your theory, but Mars is made of cheese, kkkay?

Seriously though, good find, and very interesting stuff.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 05:08 PM
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I love this stuff! Start drilling, I want some bottled mars water in my stomache. Wicked awesome news, you always just have that feeling that it isn't what it is, some lifeless planet with random storms, there had to be a beginning to everything right? You guys wanna get a replica, drive through southern Utah, you can see how all the mountain vallies and hills were shaped by water through time, it's absof*ckinglutely amazing, seriously like being on another planet if you're not used to that kinda stuff anyway, I'm on the east coast.

Maybe if global warming doesn't get the attention it deserves, when we become ancestors our youngins can experience this anhydrous planet life first hand.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 07:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Scape
I love this stuff! Start drilling, I want some bottled mars water in my stomache. Wicked awesome news, you always just have that feeling that it isn't what it is, some lifeless planet with random storms, there had to be a beginning to everything right? You guys wanna get a replica, drive through southern Utah, you can see how all the mountain vallies and hills were shaped by water through time, it's absof*ckinglutely amazing, seriously like being on another planet if you're not used to that kinda stuff anyway, I'm on the east coast.

Maybe if global warming doesn't get the attention it deserves, when we become ancestors our youngins can experience this anhydrous planet life first hand.
Yeah, too bad global warming doesn't exist.

Cool article man and good read.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2007, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fang
Yeah, too bad global warming doesn't exist.

Cool article man and good read.
LOL word to that. It does exist though. Just not anything we can do about and we have little to no effect on it.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 03:27 AM
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I wish that instead of looking at Mars we looked at Venus, because Venus is probably the way we are starting to go towards being like if global warming continues.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 04:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Paruyr
I wish that instead of looking at Mars we looked at Venus, because Venus is probably the way we are starting to go towards being like if global warming continues.
Right cuz Venus' atmosphere is 97% CO2 and earth's is already at a whopping .03%!!! Wow it's getting close, we better do somethin fellaz!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 08:15 AM
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Oh really?

I heard some one talking about how they found something on mars like this..
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