UT professor helps discover flowing water on Mars

UT professor helps discover flowing water on Mars

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Dr. Linda Kah helped design the Mars Rover Curiosity 11 years ago. Dr. Linda Kah helped design the Mars Rover Curiosity 11 years ago.
"Finding life is a much more difficult task," said Kah. "What we try to look at is finding all of the necessary conditions that life would have needed. Having water is a very good place to start." "Finding life is a much more difficult task," said Kah. "What we try to look at is finding all of the necessary conditions that life would have needed. Having water is a very good place to start."
Dr. Kah said the rounded pieces within samples suggest the rocks may have been refined over time by a water source. Dr. Kah said the rounded pieces within samples suggest the rocks may have been refined over time by a water source.
Dr. Kah can monitor the rover remotely from both work and home. Dr. Kah can monitor the rover remotely from both work and home.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Scientists say they have now found evidence that there used to be flowing water on Mars.

Helping those scientists is University of Tennessee professor Dr. Linda Kah, who is using her expertise in geology to analyze their findings.

"We take a lot of our images of the landscape with these two cameras up here on the mast," explained Kah, an associate professor of geology.

Kah was asked 11 years ago to help design NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover.

"They didn't care whether or not if they knew anything about Mars," said Kah. "What they were looking for were people that knew how to look at rocks and interpret ancient environments from them."     
    
The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in August. Kah says it is the size of a Mini-Cooper.

The mission is to find evidence that life could have been supported on Mars.

What makes the rover different than ones in the past is its 11 high-resolution cameras, which feed color images back to Earth.

"What we see is the individual fragments," said Kah, showing us one large rock sample. "They are fingernail-sized pieces of rocks that are within this are very rounded and that's a difficult thing to do."   

Kah says this is clear evidence water was once flowing on this planet about three billion years ago.
     
"We can say how fast the water was moving," she said. "We can start to say something how deep the water might have been."

Kah can control the cameras on the rover remotely from her office or home.

The questions still remains: Was there ever life on Mars?
     
"Finding life is a much more difficult task," said Kah. "What we try to look at is finding all of the necessary conditions that life would have needed. Having water is a very good place to start."

Kah says they hope the Curiosity Rover will continue to operate for two years.

Scientists are collecting data on more than just the presence of water. They are also trying to determine, among other things, if the water on Mars would have been fresh or saltwater.

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