Report by Harrison MA ’08 Says Water Found on Mars

Tanya Harrison MA ’08, who studied with Martha Gilmore, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and is now at Malin Space Science Systems in California, is first author on a report that says her team found evidence of liquid water flowing on the surface of Mars in multiple locations as recently as this year.

An abstract of the report, titled “Present-Day Activity, Monitoring and Documentation of Gullies With the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera,” was published in the Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 267. The findings were reported in a speech at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting on Oct. 8, and the work also was presented at the 2009 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting Oct. 19-21.

According to the report, the group found evidence of six active gully flows that formed since 2001. Of the six new flows, three have formation dates constrained to within a single Mars year; these three formed during autumn to early spring, demonstrating that summer warming is not participating in creating the liquid involved in their formation.

“These efforts are focused on understanding how the gullies formed, how they have been degraded, and where they are active today,” the report says.