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9 Polar Lakes, Streams, and Springs as Analogs for the Hydrological Cycle on Mars

  • Christopher P. McKay
  • Dale T. Andersen
  • Wayne H. Pollard
  • Jennifer L. Heldmann
  • Peter T. Doran
  • Christian H. Fritsen
  • John C. Priscu
Part III. Aqueous Environments and the Implications for Life
Part of the Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics book series (ASTROBIO, volume 4)

Abstract

The extensive fluvial features seen on the surface of Mars attest to the stable flow of water on that planet at some time in the past. However the low erosion rates, the sporadic distribution of the fluvial features, and computer simulations of the climate of early Mars all suggest that Mars was quite cold even when it was wet. Thus, the polar regions of the Earth provide potentially important analogs to conditions on Mars during its wet, but cold, early phase. Here we review studies of polar lakes, streams, and springs and compare the physical and geological aspects of these features with their possible Martian counterparts. Fundamentally, liquid water produced by summer melts can persist even when the mean annual temperature is below freezing because ice floats over liquid and provides an insulating barrier. Life flourishes in these liquid water habitats in Earth’s polar regions and similarly life may have been present in ice-covered lakes and permafrost springs on Mars. Evidence for past life on Mars may therefore be preserved in the sediments and mineral precipitates associated with these features.

Keywords

Liquid Water Hydrological Cycle Mars Global Surveyor Antarctic Lake Polar Lake 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher P. McKay
    • 1
  • Dale T. Andersen
    • 2
  • Wayne H. Pollard
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Heldmann
    • 1
  • Peter T. Doran
    • 3
  • Christian H. Fritsen
    • 4
  • John C. Priscu
    • 5
  1. 1.NASA Ames Research Center, MS 245-3, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000USA
  2. 2.Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, QuebecCanada H3A 2K6
  3. 3.Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, 845 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607USA
  4. 4.Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512USA
  5. 5.Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University – Bozeman, P.O. Box 173120, Bozeman, MT 59717-3120USA

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