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Dr. Derek Sears To Speak At AOAS December 19th Meeting

Lunar & Planetary
Dr. Derek Sears will present a lecture on the possibility that liquid water may exist under Mars-like conditions at the Friday, December 19th dinner/meeting of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society at 7:30 PM, in the Rose Room at Creekmore Park. The title, "Water on Mars: Tales of a Martian Mud Machine" will reveal the results of his recent groundbreaking research project which proved that liquid water CAN exist under Mars-like conditions (See story, "Done Deal...Liquid Water CAN Exist on Mars!")

Dr. Derek W.G. Sears is a professor in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) and is the director of the Arkansas Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Sciences. Recently, he led a team of graduate students into new territory by first building a special chamber where the conditions on the surface of Mars could be duplicated, and then determining whether liquid water might be able to exist there. Their conclusion? YES, liquid water CAN exist on Mars!

Since the days of Percival Lowell and H.G. Wells in the late nineteenth century, Mars enthusiasts have thought that the Red Planet might harbor liquid water. Lowell believed he could see "canals" on the surface of Mars, which he mistook for a vast planet-wide irrigation system that brought liquid water from the frozen polar regions down and across the arid desert regions of equatorial Mars. When mankind's first spacecraft visited in the mid-60's, what we found was a cold, dead landscape not too different from the way the surface of the moon appeared. Water, it was thought, couldn't possibly exist under such dry and barren conditions.

Newton Basin Area
Yet recent observations within the last decade have hinted at the presence of liquid water in Mars' recent past, or even possibly in the present, at it's surface. It has blossomed into one of the most hotly debated subjects of present day planetary science. Spacecraft such as Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) have imaged the surface with cameras which can resolve features only a few feet across, and have found gullies on the Martian surface that appear to be quite fresh. (See picture at right) These gullies seem to emerge at a boundary layer in the Martian bedrock where it is believed that liquid water may reside.

Dust Storm on Mars
Dr. Sears' work has shown in early results, that it is possible for ice with a layer of dust (dust storms are common on Mars - see picture at left) can create conditions for the ice to melt and, once melted, the liquid water does not appear to evaporate in the dry atmosphere of Mars any faster than it does on Earth. To Quote Dr. Sears, "In other words, we suspect that water is stable enough on the surface of Mars to produce the structures that have been ascribed to flowing water".

Dr. Sears has presented a lecture to AOAS before, exactly 11 years ago on December 19th 1992. Then he presented on a topic with which he is even more expert, that being on the study of meteorites. He authored the book, Thunderstones: A Study of Meteorites Based on Falls and Finds in Arkansas, which details the 14 (so far) known Arkansas meteorites. At least one of each of the three major types of meteorites (stones, irons, and stony-irons) have been either seen to fall, or have been found within the state. Dr. Sears is a member of the Cosmochemistry Group at UAFay, which studies and classifies meteoritic material. He is also editor of the scientific journal Meteroitics.

On a personal note, Dr. Sears is one of my favorite speakers. It was years before the members in attendance at that December 1992 meeting stopped talking about the great lecture he presented to us that evening. I so eagery await the opportunity to introduce and once again hear this masterful speaker. I hope you'll all attend to give him our warmest welcome yet.
Dr. Derek Sears To Speak At AOAS December 19th Meeting | 2 comments | Create New Account
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Dr. Derek Sears To Speak At AOAS December 19th Meeting
Authored by: dgrosvold onTuesday, November 04 2003 @ 02:33 am EST
Sounds Like a fantastic program! I'm really looking forward to it. We need to get organized on who's brinning what, however - let's get a forum topic going on the potluck dinner and what each of us my bring - here's my offer to start it off:

Dave - Greenwood, AR

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