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      Mars rover finds signs of seasonal floods / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August, 2023 - 19:34

    two images. At left, a sandy, brownish area filled with hexagonal shapes. At right, this image is faded out, but the hexagonal shapes are outlined in red.

    Enlarge / The newly described deposits (left) have their shapes highlighted in red at right. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/IRAP )

    The prodigious evidence for water on Mars has eliminated scientific debate about whether Mars had a watery past. It clearly did. But it has left us with an awkward question: What exactly did that past look like? Some results argue that there were long-lived oceans and lakes on Mars. Others argue that the water largely consisted of ice-covered bodies that only allowed water to burst out onto the surface on occasions .

    The picture is further confused by the fact that some or all of these may have been true at different times or in different locations. Creating a clear picture would help shape our understanding of an environment that might have been far more conducive to life than anything that exists on present-day Mars.

    A new paper describes evidence that at least one part of Mars went through many wet/dry cycles, which may be critical for the natural production of molecules essential to life on Earth—though they don't necessarily mean conditions in which life itself could thrive.

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      Life on Earth might have gotten a boost from the Sun’s mega-tantrums / ArsTechnica · Monday, 22 May, 2023 - 18:55

    Image of eruptions on the surface of the Sun.

    Enlarge (credit: NASA/SDO )

    How, exactly, living things emerged on Earth remains a mystery. Now a new experiment has revealed that blasts of solar particles could have kickstarted the process by creating some of the basic components of life.

    Time in the sun

    Before so much as the first microbe existed, there had to be amino acids thought to have formed in one of the primordial oozes of early Earth. It was previously thought that lightning might have supercharged the formation of amino acids. However, Kensei Kobayashi of Yokohama National University in Japan, along with astrophysicist Vladimir Airapetian of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a team of researchers from both institutions, have found another possibility: The young Sun’s superflares probably helped give rise to the stuff of life.

    “[Galactic cosmic rays] and [solar energetic particle] events from the young Sun represent the most effective energy sources for the prebiotic formation of biologically important organic compounds,” the researchers said in a study recently published in Life .

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