Lake on Mars mlakeThis image from the University of Colorado at Boulder shows a reconstructed view of the Shalbatana lake on Mars as it may have looke

Planetary scientists are excited. They now have what appears to be clear evidence that Mars once had a large lake on its surface.

The fact that this was more than three billion years ago has not dimmed their enthusiasm. Water is key to life and scientists are looking desperately for evidence of life, past or present, on Mars.

The evidence comes from images taken from a camera called the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They show a 50km-long canyon carved by water and the remains of beaches, a team at the University of Colorado at Boulder reported.

The lake, named Shalbatana by the researchers, would have covered 200sq km and been up to 450 metres deep.

‘‘This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars,’’ said Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study.

‘‘The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago,’’ Mr Di Achille said in a statement.

There is now no dispute that some water exists on the surface or Mars — robot explorers have found ice. There is also evidence that water may still seep to the surface from underground, although it quickly disappears in the cold, thin atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The water discovered so far, however, is not enough to sustain life. A big lake is very different situation. For scientists looking for evidence that Mars once had living things, the newly-discovered lake is now on the top of their list for places to visit.

Adapted from a REUTERS story in today’s Bangkok Post.

reconstructed – made to look like something that existed in the past นำมาปะติปะต่อใหม่ นำมาศึกษาใหม่จากข้อมูลที่มีอยู่
roughly – approximately คร่าวๆ
planetary scientist – a scientist who studies planets นักวิทยาศาสตร์
evidence – facts or physical signs that help to prove something ข้อมูล หลักฐาน
surface – the top layer or outside part of something พื้นผิว
dim – to cause to become weaker ทำให้ท้อแท้ หมดหวัง
enthusiasm – the feeling of being very interested in something or excited by it ความกระตือรือร้น ความสนใจ
desperately – with great effort; very much ด้วยความพยายามอย่างมาก
orbiter – a space vehicle that goes around and around a planet, moon, etc. วงโคจร
canyon – a long deep valley with very steep sides made of rock (see photo) หุบเขา
carved – cut (from stone, wood, etc.) รอยตัด รอยกัดเซาะ
unambiguous – clear and with only one possible meaning ชัดเจน
shoreline – the edge of a sea, lake or large river สองฝั่งน้ำ
identification – the act of recognising something that you are looking for or finding out what it is การระบุ การชี้ตัว
accompanying – going together with ที่ประกอบเข้าด้วยกัน
geological – relating to the features of the Earth’s surface or the surface of another planet ทางธรณีวิทยา
dispute – a serious disagreement ข้อพิพาท
seep – to flow into or out of something through small holes ไหลเซาะเข้าไป กัดเซาะ
atmosphere – the air around the Earth or round another planet ชั้นบรรยากาศ
sustain – to provide the conditions in which something can happen or exist เหมาะ เอื้อต่อ (การอยู่อาศัยของสิ่งมีชีวิต)

Posted by Terry Fredrickson at 08:20 AM


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