News Stories

Deserts Were Once Wet--On Mars as Well as Earth

The deserts of Utah and Nevada have not always been dry: Between 14,000 and 20,000 years ago, valleys throughout the desert southwest filled with water to become large lakes, which--at their maximum--covered about a quarter of both those states. And a dry stream bed has been found on Mars--was this "red desert" planet ALSO once covered with water? This transformation may have happened on Mars as well!

It's likely that the lakes were important to the migration of people into North America, because many of the archaeological sites where early Indians settled when they first came into the US are rock shelters at the edges of these ancient lakes. The lakes were a major source of fish, and a gathering place for deer and wildfowl at that time.

Meanwhile, NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence that a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars is now drying up. (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). Space scientist William Dietrich says, "From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep. Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars."

Mars scientist Rebecca Williams says, "The shapes tell you they were transported and the sizes tell you they couldn't be transported by wind. They were transported by water flow."

Mars scientist John Grotzinger says, "(One streambed) looks like someone jack-hammered up a slab of city sidewalk, but it's really a tilted block of an ancient streambed.

"A long-flowing stream can be a habitable environment. It is not our top choice as an environment for preservation of organics, though. We're still going to (another area of Mars), but this is insurance that we have already found our first potentially habitable environment."

We can go to Nevada to gamble, even although it's now a desert. A trip to Mars, anyone? It may have happened on Mars, but that doesn't mean it has to happen HERE. MOTKE warned us and Whitley listened, and DID something about it that (hopefully) "woke up" millions of people.



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