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Red Planet Still Packs Surprises
By Phil Berardelli
ScienceNOW Daily News
20 December 2007
Even though orbiters have eyed it from space and landers have rumbled across its surface, Mars still has more secrets to reveal. Two findings emerged this week: the possibility of an active glacier far from the planet’s poles and evidence that sulfur–not carbon–was the element driving the planet’s warmer climate long ago. Both discoveries could force some rethinking about martian evolution and dynamics–and maybe even provide insights about Earth’s past.
The glacier discovery was announced Wednesday by the European Space Agency (ESA). A high-resolution stereo camera aboard ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft spotted the feature in a region called Deuteronilus Mensae, located in the mid-north latitudes of the planet. The Mars Express science team drew the preliminary conclusion that the material in the feature is water ice and that it accumulated as recently as 10,000 years ago, probably from an underground source.