Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Jared Randall makes this connection here…

On January 15, 2013, Marc Kaufman published the article “Mars Rover Finds Intriguing New Evidence of Water,” in National Geographic News.  In the article, he explains that mineral-filled veins were found on the surface of Mars at the lowest point of a giant crater known as Gale Crater (figure 1).  The mineral found in these veins was Gypsum.  Without the presence of water, Gypsum cannot be created because it is partially composed of water.  Sedimentary rock was also found at the bottom of the crater which suggests that there was once water flowing through that area, because it is deposited by flowing water. This article relates to hydrology because these mineral-filled veins provide strong supporting evidence that planet Mars was once able to support flowing water.  Although water is no longer found in a liquid state on the planet, minerals that require the presence of water in order to be created, such as Gypsum, have been found on the surface of the planet.  Gale Crater is not the only location these minerals have been found.  In 2011, a Mars Rover found a mineral vein just outside of another crater (Webster).  This vein also contains traces of gypsum.  Since traces of water have been found in several locations on the planet Mars, NASA scientists decided that it would be beneficial to drill into the surface of the planet to collect dust samples.  This will be the first time drill samples will be collected from the surface of the planet.  A few months after Kaufman published the article on Gale Crater, NASA released the results from the drill sample.  Traces of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and carbon were all found in the sample (Brown).  All of these chemicals are essential for life processes and not only suggest that Mars was once able to support water, but also living organisms.  Marc Kaufman did an exceptional job at reporting the findings of the Mars rover, but he did not completely explain why that location was chosen to be examined over others.

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Figure 1: Image of a mineral vein

This article mainly discusses the environmental issue of having an entire planet that was once able to sustain many resources that are vital to living organisms.  Scientists can study the traces of water left in the soil along with the soil itself to better understand the flow of water on the planet and how it was distributed.  Gaining this knowledge will help us not just understand the planet Mars, but our own planet as well. 

Sources:

Brown, Dwayne. “NASA Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars.”NASA. NASA, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2013.

Kaufman, Marc. “Mars Rover Finds Intriguing New Evidence of Water.” National Geographic. N.p., 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

Webster, Guy. “NASA Mars Rover Finds Mineral Vein Deposited by Water.” NASA. NASA, 07 Dec. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

 

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