CRISM to search for Water... Aug 24, 2005 1:20:10 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Aug 24, 2005 1:20:10 GMT -6
CRISM Joins Mars' Water Detectives
for Astrobiology Magazine
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 23, 2005
With the August 12th launch of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM, joins the set of high-tech detectives seeking traces of water on the red planet.
Built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), CRISM is the first visible-infrared spectrometer to fly on a NASA Mars mission. Its primary job: look for the residue of minerals that form in the presence of water, the "fingerprints" left by evaporated hot springs, thermal vents, lakes or ponds on Mars when water could have existed on the surface.
With unprecedented clarity, CRISM will map areas on the martian surface down to house-sized scales, as small as 60 feet (about 18 meters) across, when the spacecraft is in its average orbit altitude of about 190 miles (more than 300 kilometers).
"CRISM plays a very important role in Mars exploration," says APL's Dr. Scott Murchie, the instrument's principal investigator. "Our data will identify sites most likely to have contained water, and which would make the best potential landing sites for future missions seeking fossils or even traces of life on Mars."
Though certain landforms provide evidence that water may once have flowed on Mars, Murchie says scientists have little evidence of sites containing mineral deposits created by long-term interaction between water and rock.
The NASA Rover Opportunity found evidence for liquid water in Meridian Planum, a large plain near Mars' equator, but that is only one of many hundreds of sites where future spacecraft could land
More here: www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-mro-05n.html
All in good time...