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More hints of Martian hot springs may hold promise for Mars 2020 mission

One potential landing site appears to have ridges that hint at past hydrothermal activity

11:10am, July 26, 2017
Syrtis Major

ANCIENT FEATURES  Northeast Syrtis Major (shown) is a candidate landing site for the Mars 2020 mission. The bedrock in the region is more than 4 billion years old. Certain ridges there may be the result of ancient hot springs, a new study of similar features elsewhere on Mars suggests.

Ancient hot springs may have bubbled up at a spot just south of the Martian equator. Left-behind mineral deposits described in a new study are not the first evidence of such features on Mars. But if confirmed, the discovery could affect where NASA’s Mars 2020 mission rover lands to start its hunt for signs of life.

The spot scrutinized in the new study is called Margaritifer Terra. This heavily cratered site with lots of fractures in its surface may have formed from magma or melting rock from asteroid impacts. Analysis of high-resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests not all of the site’s features resulted from volcanic activity or heavy hits to the Martian surface. Certain ridges along fractures in one of the region’s impact craters have mineral deposits that may have come from the upwelling of water from ancient hot springs, researchers report July 15 in

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