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No. 125: Sep-Oct 1999

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Ice-Covered Lake On Mars?

The Mars Global Surveyor snapped an intriguing photo while orbiting over latitude 24.65, longitude 207.10. It looks like a lake! There even seem to be reflections of the surrounding terrain. But, as T. Van Flandern comments, this glassy-looking area cannot be liquid water because the vapor pressure is too low on Mars -- water would quickly evaporate away. Ice, however, is a strong possibility.

(Van Flandern, Tom; "'Lake' on Mars?" Meta Research Bulletin, 8:30, 1999. For details, go to: http://www.cbjd.net/orbit/mars/steadlake.html)

Comments. The reference did not specify the Martian hemisphere, but it was probably the northern, where there are extensive lowlands. In fact, if water once did flow on Mars, 75% of it would have drained into these lowlands. (Anonymous; "Mars in 3-D," Science News, 156:11, 1999.)

Back in 1976, the Viking Orbiter sent back pictures of so-called "searchlight areas" in the northern hemisphere. The speculation then was that these glassy, seemingly transparent features might be thin layers of ice. (AME5 in The Moon and the Planets)

Possible ice-covered lake on Mars Possible ice-covered lake on Mars (Reproduction of a negative).

From Science Frontiers #125, SEP-OCT 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss