Use of spacecraft data to derive regions on Mars where liquid water would be stable
Brad Lobitz*, Byron L. Wood, Maurice M. Averner, and Christopher P. McKay§,¶
* Johnson Controls World Services, Earth Science Division, Fundamental Biology Office, and § Space Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035
Communicated by Baruch S. Blumberg, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Astrobiology Institute, Moffett Field, CA, December 8, 2000 (received for review January 4, 2000)
Combining Viking pressure and temperature data with Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter topography data, we have computed the fraction of the martian year during which pressure and temperature allow for liquid water to be stable on the martian surface. We find that liquid water would be stable within the Hellas and Argyre basin and over the northern lowlands equatorward of about 40°. The location with the maximum period of stable conditions for liquid water is in the southeastern portion of Utopia Planitia, where 34% of the year liquid water would be stable if it were present. Locations of stability appear to correlate with the distribution of valley networks.
PNAS, February 27, 2001, vol. 98, No. 5:2132-2137.