Mars Exploration News  





. CMU Postdoctoral Study Rocks With Mars Similarities

Bowen, whose research focuses on an area of geology called diagenesis, and Benison collected hundreds of samples of rocks and water from 27 Australian lakes this summer and shipped them to a CMU laboratory, where they are being examined in minute detail.

Mount Pleasant MI (SPX) Oct 07, 2005
Microscopic life in lakes of southwestern Australia may provide keys to unlocking the secrets of past environments and the possibility of life on Mars.

An unparalleled study by Brenda Beitler Bowen, a Central Michigan University postdoctoral research associate, on salty acid lakes in Australia provides a rare, modern analogy to ancient geologic formations on Earth and Mars.

"There are very, very few places on Earth that have this type of acid environment," said Bowen, who is working with CMU faculty geologist Kathleen Benison, an expert on ancient acidic lakes whose work has been featured in National Geographic and Newsweek.

"One is Australia. No one thought that life could exist in salty and acidic water, but we found evidence that it does, even under extreme conditions. We expect we may even find new species."

"Brenda brings great strengths in sedimentary geology and geochemistry to the project and has done a fantastic job so far," said Benison. "Brenda has been a tremendous partner in the field and in the lab."

Bowen, whose research focuses on an area of geology called diagenesis, and Benison collected hundreds of samples of rocks and water from 27 Australian lakes this summer and shipped them to a CMU laboratory, where they are being examined in minute detail.

"I study everything that happens to a rock after it's laid down how it's formed, how water flows into pores in the rock, its fluid and chemistry," said Bowen.

CMU undergraduate geology major Elliot Jagniecki of Whitehall, who helped collect the samples, is studying bubbles, called fluid inclusions, found in the salt mineral for evidence of life.

Recent NASA images and geochemical data from Mars reveal a unique suite of minerals and sedimentary structures that are consistent with features found on Earth.

"We know there are layered rock formations on Mars, and that there was water," she said.

"Preliminary investigations suggest microbial life is present even in extreme geochemical conditions in Australia. Evaluation of this potential for life in these environments can help to provide guidelines for how the search for life on Mars might continue. Where water is, there is life. Just about everything else we found in Australia is strikingly similar to what NASA found on Mars."

This study is breaking new ground.

"We're the only ones studying these types of acid lakes on Earth," Bowen said. "The reason I chose to come to CMU for my postdoctoral study was because of Kathy (Benison) and her work in this area."

Bowen will present her study at the Geology Society of America meeting Oct. 16.

"I'm very excited because other speakers in this session are NASA experts," said Bowen.

She found other analogies by digging in Southern Utah. Her doctoral dissertation was on sandstone concretions small, pebble-like formations in rocks that indicate the impact of fluids and minerals.

In Utah, the rock formations were ancient, indicating a long period of time to form, but younger formations in Australia indicate that rocks can be formed more quickly than previously believed. This may help discover more about the possibility of life on Mars.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Central Michigan University
SpaceDaily
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Spirit Heading To 'Home Plate'
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 09, 2006
Last week Spirit completed robotic-arm work on "El Dorado." The rover used all three of its spectrometers plus the microscopic imager for readings over the New Year's weekend.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • NASA plans to send new robot to Jupiter
  • Los Alamos Hopes To Lead New Era Of Nuclear Space Tranportion With Jovian Mission
  • Boeing Selects Leader for Nuclear Space Systems Program
  • Boeing-Led Team to Study Nuclear-Powered Space Systems

  • The Da Vinci Glow
  • NASA Selects Team To Build Lunar Lander
  • SMART-1 Set For More Lunar Science
  • Not Your Average Moonshot

  • Russian Space Agency mulls launches from Kuru
  • WISE Bed-Rest Study: Second Campaign Under Way
  • Brazil, Russia Agree To Send Brazilian Cosmonaut To Space
  • US 'Space Tourist' Blasts Off Aboard Soyuz

  • The PI's Perspective: Changes in Latitude
  • Tenth Planet Has A Moon
  • New Class of Satellites Discovered As Moon Discovered Orbiting 10th Planet
  • NASA'S Pluto Space Probe Begins Launch Preparations

  • Computer Simulation Suggests Mechanisms The Drive Jovian Jet Streams
  • The Lure Of Europa
  • NASA Selects New Frontiers Mission Concept Study
  • Icy Jupiter Moon Throws A Curve Ball At Formation Theories



  • Titan's Enigmatic Infrared-Bright Spot Is Surface Make-Up
  • Cassini's Doubleheader Flybys Score Home Run
  • The Odd World Of Saturn's Moon Hyperion
  • Tethys's Steep Scarps

  • Opening The Door To New Materials For Exploration
  • Madison Research Powers U.S. Army Space And Missile Command Simulation Center
  • NASA's Gravity Probe B Mission Completes Data Collection
  • Mobile Satellite Ventures Issued Key Patent In Broadband Multi-Spotbeam Satellite Systems

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement