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Mars, the planet we know best, has interesting surface features including evidence for running water.

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Water On Mars
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Water on Mars?

Why It Matters

A topic that always comes up when we are talking about the planet Mars is whether or not there is life present. This drives much of the research that is done by scientists studying Mars. One factor that plays a major role in life thriving on Earth is water. Do you think that there is water on Mars?

Here is a set of pictures taken from the same location over a period of time. What do you notice?


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1. Identify which of the landforms on the landform identification chart used by NASA could be created from water or ice.


2. Many of these landforms (i.e. channel, gullies, etc.) are created through erosion and deposition. Water and ice are both agents of erosion. Use a stream table to model how water could create the various landforms that have been identified on the surface of Mars.

3. Take a look at the images below that have been captured by the Mars Rover. Is there evidence for each one that liquid water was present? Could the landforms present in the picture be formed from some other process?

Ares Vallis


Eberswalde Delta


Channels in Hale Crater

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

4. Use educreations or another program to create a simulation to show how these landforms were created on the surface of Mars.

(For example: http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/olcweb/cgi/pluginpop.cgi?it=swf::640::480::/sites/dl/free/0072402466/30425/10_22_10_23.swf::Figs.%2010.22,%2010.23%20-%20Meander%20Cut-Offs%20and%20Oxbow%20Lakes)

5. Brainstorm other types of data that we could collect and interpret to draw further conclusions about whether liquid water exists on the surface of Mars.


Resources Cited

NASA http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia14472.html

NASA http://marsed.mars.asu.edu/files/msip_resources/FeatureIDCharts.pdf

NASA images

McGraw-Hill http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/olcweb/cgi/pluginpop.cgi?it=swf::640::480::/sites/dl/free/0072402466/30425/10_22_10_23.swf::Figs.%2010.22,%2010.23%20-%20Meander%20Cut-Offs%20and%20Oxbow%20Lakes

Arizona State University http://redplanet.asu.edu/?p=1810

Image Attributions

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