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NASA Announces Water Found On Mars

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the so-val-kilmer-can-breathe-easy dept.

Mars 281

s.bots writes "Straight from the horse's mouth, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has identified water in a soil sample. Hopefully this exciting news will boost interest in the space program and further exploration of the Martian surface." Clearly, this has long been suspected, but now Martian water's been (in the words of William Boynton, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer) "touched and tasted."

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281 comments

Water? Big Deal! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24423991)

Meh. Call me if they find crude oil on Mars.

Re:Water? Big Deal! (4, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424447)

They found crude [wikipedia.org] oil [wikipedia.org] components [wikipedia.org] on Titan [slashdot.org].

Re:Water? Big Deal! (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424505)

True, but that's one gawdawful pipeline you gotta build to get at it, dontcha think?

(...and I don't even want to know how what's gonna happen once the Sierra Club crowd finds out...)

(yes, I'm being facetious).

/P

Re:Water? Big Deal! (3, Informative)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424621)

No, crude oil has not been confirmed as a major surface component. The confirmation of surface liquids on Titan (in lakes previously observed by the ISS and RADAR instruments) demonstrate the presence of liquid natural gas, not crude oil.

Hurray! (5, Interesting)

inotocracy (762166) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424049)

Now what?

Re:Hurray! (5, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424467)

...now we find a way to launch approximately 40bn gallons of fine single-malt whisky to Mars.

Oh, okay, - it really means that now we don't have to drag as much stuff with us when we finally do get sufficient testicular fortitude to get people out to Mars for exploration, perhaps settlement, etc etc.

Now to answer your question specifically? We need to know how much H2O are we talking here, and in what concentrations and distributions.

/P

Re:Hurray! (2, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24425025)

...now we find a way to launch approximately 40bn gallons of fine single-malt whisky to Mars.

no no, we just need to send barley, oak casks and some funny shaped copper tubes.

If your willing to wait a bit longer, we only need to send barley and acorns, I'm sure there must be some copper on Mars.

Re:Hurray! (5, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424507)

Now what?

Now we move to mars. Naturally, we won't actually use or drink the readily available Martian water, but buy bottled water from earth instead.

Re:Hurray! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424611)

Dejah Thoris and a hot tub, what else?

Projected quantities, availability and ease of procurement of said water, but first need need other resources necessary for sustained life there. Perhaps afterwards can discuss algae and people with a greenhouse. Lots to do, rest assured though somewhere along the line there will be a push for terraforming, if we don't destroy ourselves first.

Re:Hurray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424865)

This is the plan: get your ass to Mars

Re:Hurray! (1)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424911)

> Now what?

Thanks for the cue.

1) Find water on Mars
2) ?
3) Profit!

Just heard on ABC Australia radio:

NASA Rep: (referring to water) We're sitting on it, we've touched it, we've tasted it, we've smelled it.
ABC Journo: Who tasted it?
NASA Rep: Uh, the oven.

Re:Hurray! (0, Redundant)

videoBuff (1043512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424947)

Now what?

Absolutely nothing. NASA seems to move at a glacial pace. Their science experiments are all geology related. How many times have we seen the headline that water has been discovered on Mars? They discovered it with remote sensing, photography and now on a first hand (shovel) basis.

From the article "One surprise is how the soil is behaving. The ice-rich layers stick to the scoop when poised in the sun above the deck, different from what we expected from all the Mars simulation testing we've done"

Has these people ever used a shovel on earth in a wet and cold environment? Above statement implies that payload scientists really did not expect to encounter ice on Mars. As far as next steps go, they will design better shovels. No astrobiology experiments.

Now on to more frustratingly slow search for water in still other ways.

Big deal... (5, Funny)

Atreju (797728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424051)

NASA found water on Mars over three years ago [nasa.gov].

Re:Big deal... (3, Funny)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424145)

Your modders obviously didn't click on your link.

Re:Big deal... (3, Funny)

Atreju (797728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424257)

That's why i just LOVE this "serious" link pointing to nasa.gov. They really should put some more stuff like that to help people get modded up on slashdot.

Re:Big deal... (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424547)

The modders DID click on the link, they just realized that modding it "funny" would spoil the surprise... I was going to post the same comment myself, but somebody else beat me to it. True, it is only funny the first time you see it, so it is an old joke to 90% of slashdotters.

Re:Big deal... (1, Insightful)

akzeac (862521) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424167)

I wonder how many times we'll keep seeing that picture every time water and Mars are mentioned. It was fun in 2005, and it hasn't aged well.

Re:Big deal... (2, Interesting)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424201)

I love that this has been moderated "+5 Interesting" :D

Obviously lots of people moderating without clicking on the link.

Re:Big deal... (-1, Troll)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424339)

F-U-C-K-I-N-G hilarious. why is this modded interesting? My guess is this is how they morph science news in Mississippi schools now.

Re:Big deal... (Corrected Link) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424377)

Corrected Link: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap050720.html

----

I have mod points and I know how to use 'em

Great! News (2, Funny)

DallasMay (1330587) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424059)

Well we know one place where the Housing bubble hasn't collapsed. The Deed I bought on MartianRealestate.com will finally go up in value. I purchased 3000 acres on the Martian polar regions. Now where to build my lake house...

Are we surprised? (4, Interesting)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424061)

Seriously are we really that surprised we found water on Mars? Considering most of our galaxy is made up of the same compounds here on Earth, I wouldn't doubt if we found water on nearly all our planets, in one form or another.

Re:Are we surprised? (4, Insightful)

19Buck (517176) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424195)

Seriously are we really that surprised we found water on Mars? Considering most of our galaxy is made up of the same compounds here on Earth, I wouldn't doubt if we found water on nearly all our planets, in one form or another.

from our perspective here on earth we might seem to have an overabundance of water, but on a universal scale it's a fairly rare compound. After all, water can only exist in a limited number of states under a limited number of conditions.

Re:Are we surprised? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424541)

"After all, water can only exist in a limited number of states under a limited number of conditions."

I am sure that water can be found in ALL 50 states to some extent, although it would be mostly salty in Utah, and Hawaii, and frozen (most of the time) in Alaska.

It's not "real" (1, Interesting)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424065)

I'm a geek and all, but this is all inferred through instruments. I know the taste and feel of water. Humans and all other organisms have a built-in feel for H2O.

Re:It's not "real" (1)

carambola5 (456983) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424375)

Here's a jug of stuff that my instruments tell me is ricin. Why don't you go ahead and verify that for me?

Of course it's real.

Re:It's not "real" (0, Troll)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424513)

You remind me of the creationists who demand evidence they can feel in the palms of their hands because microscopic evidence under a microscope is never enough. I can see someone traveling to mars, getting some water for "you" to taste, and you not accepting the truth because it tastes different then the water that's been softened with sodium that you've grown up to know and love. I assume you are a member of the flat earth society too, no?

Re:It's not "real" (3, Insightful)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424531)

"Humans and all other organisms have a built-in feel for H2O." So do FTIR spectrometers, TGAs, Karl Fischer titrators, and other instruments. You're obviously not a chemistry geek.

Nb4 (-1, Offtopic)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424073)

The usual LOL TELL BUSH THERE IS OIL THERE hur hur hur hur hur circle jerk bullshit.

Re:Nb4 (1, Funny)

twotailakitsune (1229480) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424627)

no need. Bush already wants us to go to mars.

It is the stupid democrats that don't want to upset the Martians: where ever they are now. They are afraid that the Martians will be unhappy if we take their land.

The Martians have not used their land in years: A lot of years.

I am tired of the democrats doing their stupid appeasement. 10 years-ago it was Saddam Hussein, next it was North Korea, Iran, and now it is the Martians!

The universe is a harsh thing to live in. If they are not willing to fight for their land then it should be taking from them.

(funny)

Amazing! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424087)

I mean.. yawn..

I, for one, welcome... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424093)

our aquatic martian overlords.

-AC

Mars... (4, Insightful)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424097)

I still can't believe we sent a small robot and let it run around on *Mars*. It seems so unfathomably far away that I find it hard to even imagine...

Next stop: Bacteria.

Re:Mars... (2, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424235)

There isn't any bacteria on Mars. Earth is the only planet that God chose to bless with life.

I mean seriously, do you realize what kind of damage control the Roman Catholic Church would have to deal with after something like that? They have way to many altar boy molestation lawsuits to deal with.

Re:Mars... (1, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424243)

We didn't. This is Phoenix. It's stationary.

On the other hand, Spirit and Opportunity *are* running around on Mars.

Re:Mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424277)

Damn right sir! The images from Phoenix are not real, NASA has faked the whole thing -- they made it in a movie studio, the same they used to shoot the Apollo landing. How did I discovered that? Look at the shadows, they make no sense at all!

Measurements on a human level (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424109)

First time touched? First time tasted?

Well then, what did it feel like? And how did it taste? What good is a robotic lander if it can't answer these basic, human questions?

Grr, more tax dollars wasted...

Re:Measurements on a human level (5, Insightful)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424283)

Wasted tax dollars? I'm sure tax dollars are wasted on many idiotic programs than the geological survey of Mars. Space exploration is so important to understanding how the universe was formed, which in turn makes us understand how the earth was formed, which in turn makes us predict many events.

"So what?" (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424113)

...is what most people will think. Whilst this is of earth-shattering (well, mars-shattering) importance to a lot a scientists it isn't going to motivate Joe Public to commit any more tax money to the exploration of space, because they don't benefit from it themselves. This isn't a condition of human nature, this is a conscious choice by a significant portion of the population to never grow out of adolescent self obsession. People are told its good to be totally egotistical, and here is a product that will help you do that.

So no, it won't boost interest in space exploration; everyone who will raise an eyebrow to this news is already interested in space. People who didn't care before now won't care now.

Re:"So what?" (5, Informative)

Phairdon (1158023) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424307)

It's unfortunate that Joe Public is such an idiot. Yes, he doesn't benefit directly from space exploration, but he has many indirect benefits.

You have to be seriously ignorant to not see the benefit of the space program.

Ever used a cordless power tool? A smoke detector? Modern water filtration? Infrared thermometer? Edible toothpaste (this one is now used for baby toothpaste and we probably all used it as babies)? Composite forceps in the delivery room? Global communications?

Here is a kid friendly site that Joe Public might be able to comprehend
http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html [nasa.gov]

Re:"So what?" (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424905)

It's unfortunate that Joe Public is such an idiot. Yes, he doesn't benefit directly from space exploration, but he has many indirect benefits

...

Ever used [...] Composite forceps in the delivery room?

FWIW, I think if Joe Public has used composite forceps in the delivery room, we have larger problems than NASA funding. For one, we need to fix the healthcare system so that when my wife delivers her next child, it's an obstetrician, not Joe Public, prying the little rugrat out of her dilated vagoogoo.

(My apologies to my as-yet-unconceived (I hope) second child).

Who's really being self obsessed? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424335)

I think the scientists are really being self obsessed here.

Why the hell should anyone care if there is water on Mars or not? A few scientists get their thrills about this, but why should they think that the rest of the people should get excited and spend money on this when there are far more meaningful and useful things to be spending money on and getting excited about. NASA has been spending huge amounts of money for 50 years now and we really have nothing useful to show for space research. Sure we have satellite technology but that's hardly the result of sending people to the moon or sending probes to Mars.

Even if Mars is shown to have bacteria and dinosaur fossils... so what. You can prove that life existed on Mars and that still does not change what is important on earth.

For example, we don't know much about our own oceans and those are far more important to us as a source of food, minerals etc.

Re:Who's really being self obsessed? (2, Insightful)

the_weasel (323320) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424863)

For example, we don't know much about our own oceans and those are far more important to us as a source of food, minerals etc.

[sarcasm]Absolutely. We should immediately stop space research entirely and focus ALL of our efforts on the oceans. I can't believe no one is looking into this subject already.[/sarcasm]

I care if there is water on Mars. With the advent of nuclear and biological weapons, we now have the power to significantly fuck up our living space. Hell - one of these days there will be another asteroid strike.

It would be nice to know if humans can be self sufficient in places other than earth. That won't happen tomorrow, but it won't happen at all if we don't research it.

I don't know if you have looked up lately, but it turns out the universe is an awfully big place. We should probably look around a bit.

Human condition (3, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424351)

This isn't a condition of human nature, this is a conscious choice by a significant portion of the population to never grow out of adolescent self obsession.

Actually, I'd rather spend the majority of my resources on my children, which is probably a trait shaped by evolution to become part of the human condition. If you can send a mission to Mars without impacting my kids' education, future debt, or well-being, I'd completely support it.

Re:"So what?" (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424781)

Well, still the question is, so what? What does the presence of water on Mars tell us. Not asking for what it can do, or what it will let us do, but what does it tell us? What can we learn from what, what new questions does it raise.

Also, I want to meet this legendary Joe Public. Wanting to invest in things that probably will have more immediate or more significant payoffs seems to be incredibly human. You're turning the 'non sciency' people into a large monolithic blocks. Since they believe that there are better investments that don't involve Space Exploration, they are totally egotistic? Since they believe that given the state of the World right now, this news isn't THAT important to them, they suffer from 'adolescent self obsession'?

I personally support Space Exploration. I know how small the NASA budget is, and the unlikelihood of anything else significant coming out of reassigning all of it to other areas, especially when you look at your ballooning military budget. I know that a good segment of the public appears to be apathetic to space exploration, or even basic science. But the misconceptions the public has of NASA budget isn't because their stupid or 'anti science'. It means their ignorant and should be informed. They don't believe that some random discovery about quantum effects is 'amazing'? That's ok. The whole friggin world probably went 'heh' when the laser was first created. Didn't stop it from being used in next to everything.

Sorry, rant over. I just grinds on my nerves whenever a science article comes out, and people start talking about us, those who appreciate science, and the dirty stupid majority who is too dumb to understand the beauty/importance.

Re:"So what?" (5, Insightful)

Turiacus (1316049) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424819)

I'm sick of these constant attacks on "Joe Sixpack". When was the last time you were consulted on NASA's budget ? Ordinary folks have no control over this.

And what did you personally do to encourage congress to spend more of space exploration ? Probably nothing. (whining on slashdot doesn't count).

I also disagree with the idea that nobody cares. I care, and I bet a lot of people here care too. I remember the record number of visitors pathfinder's website had at the time. You are certainly not alone in finding a robot driving around Mars more exciting than a bunch of guys bicycling in orbit. But I guess having a superiority complex is fun.

Amazing! Unprecidented!...I wonder what's on MTV ? (5, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424123)

This will be remembered in the textbooks as one of the biggest discoveries in human history - and yet it will of course be presently overlooked by uninterested masses.

Will humanity ever get past our predilections with ourselves?

I can't fathom the significance of this event fully, and yet the public applause so well deserved is again, starkly absent.

oh well - I think it's great at least, maybe I shouldn't care so much what the masses think or care about.

Re:Amazing! Unprecidented!...I wonder what's on MT (4, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424327)

This will be remembered in the textbooks as one of the biggest discoveries in human history

No it won't, because water is a fairly common molecular arrangement. Electricty, atomic power, Earth being round, these are things that qualify as the biggest discoveries. In 10 years this particular incident of the rover will be forgotten, and in 100 years, the rover itself will be a historical footnote. How much do textbooks cover the Apollo program other than #11 and #13?

Less than 100 years ago, people believed that Mars had canals full of water. Then with better optics people realized that no, those trenches, causing an extreme belief swing the other way - that Mars must be bone dry, any water having long since evaporated. Of course that ignores the polar ice caps which spectrography can easily identify.

We've finally come into direct contact with H20 on Mars' surface rather than simply remote identification. While a milestone, it's a pretty damn tiny one. It will not be remembered in textbooks. Look how results of the Venus expeditions of the 70s are now glossed over.

Re:Amazing! Unprecidented!...I wonder what's on MT (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424633)

uh, it's not a rover. It doesn't rove.

it landed there and sits there.

Re:Amazing! Unprecidented!...I wonder what's on MT (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#24425017)

"No it won't"

The Martians of the future may disagree with you.

Obviously, they will have to exist, before they disagree. But water makes it a lot more likely.

Marketing (3, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424329)

People are curious by default. But you can't make money on reveling in scientific breakthroughs. Since money is the only measure of success in our culture, R&D that doesn't directly translate into more capital is ignored and often ridiculed, though almost all real breakthroughs are performed through the state sector (through funding to universities or even directly by DARPA).

Billions upon billions are spent convincing people to buy products they don't need with money they don't have. It's all fun and games until the currency crashes and the environment is left in ruins.

Science education (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424345)

In the meantime, Chinese kids and other kids from developing countries are looking with awe and go on to study math and science.

A generation from now, when they are the leaders of the World, our children will wonder why they're sweeping up after the assembly robots - Chinese will move their manufacturing over here because of our cheap labor. After all, they'll be busy inventing things and exploring space while we're watching the latest reality shit on TV.

I blame the educators for making such a fascinating subject dull and harder than it has to be. Why, I really didn't understand derivative and integral calculus until I took Physics. A derivative is velocity?! Cool! And its derivative is acceleration?!? Awesome! And the integral of velocity is distance?!?! I have a hard-on!

Why does it have to be taught on its own? Calculus was invented for science and teaching it as a separate subject just makes it completely abstract and a mechanical wrote type of process.

That's just one example of how science education is this society needs to be updated, revamped, or whatever you want to call it. And I'm really glad that girls are being encouraged more to enter those fields.

Re:Science education (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424889)

I blame the educators for making such a fascinating subject dull and harder than it has to be.

Are you talking about Linux zealots here?

Re:Science education (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24425013)

They'll be the leaders of the world regarding industry, technology (maybe not innovation/R&D), businessish stuff like commerce and all that, but it takes so much more than being an economic super-power to achieve cultural supremacy. 40 years from now China may be the top dog, but everybody will still watch American movies. Their culture will have a very tough time imposing itself, and I don't think China's reign will last long enough for it to happen even remotely. Besides, you don't want to hear China's eventual Britney Spears, there's just too much hostility towards a culture as different as theirs.

Not so much (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424367)

It is momentous only because it finally proves that sustainable human life is possible on Mars. However, since Mars is sadly lacking a Magnetosphere, the fact that water and oxygen are available there isn't as useful as we would like it to be. Hmm... how hard is it to build a dome that blocks out all harmful cosmic radiation, yet still lets in the sunlight necessary for photosynthesis? Since any Terran originated life on Mars would require a pressurized dome anyway, how big a win is a Martian colony over a lunar or asteroid belt colony? Seems the only advantage of Mars is earth-like gravity, which is also a disadvantage if you ever want to leave the colony...

Re:Not so much (2, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424599)

It is momentous only because it finally proves that sustainable human life is possible on Mars.

It proves no such thing. It only hints at the possibility.

Re:Amazing! Unprecidented!...I wonder what's on MT (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424679)

Its not a great event. It only proved what everyone already knew, both by theory and common sense.

We are all made from the same building blocks, so on a rather similar planet, not so far away from us, finding water there is not really that amazing of a event. ( cool yes, amazing, no )

To me, when we find primitive life there it will be the same sort of "well, no kidding there is some sort of life there"..

Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424133)

Ant is there life in that water soil?

And what a body of thy subject you say about?

damn it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424173)

That was the ONLY water on Mars.

Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424203)

"...but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

I wasn't aware that Phoenix had a tongue. What will those NASA scientists come up with next??

Quantum Fingerprints (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424265)

I wonder if we'll someday be able to look at the quantum state of the molecules, atoms and subatomic particles making up even pure water, to learn about its history. The way that we look at the chemical composition now, with more familiar instruments.

water ICE (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424273)

It isn't water, it is water ICE. This is no big surprise, it has long been suspected that there is plenty of water ice on the Martian poles.

What would be a surprise would be liquid water, even if it only exists deep below the surface (given the current atmospheric pressure).

Life of any kind would be a real find, even if it is frozen bacteria, even if it is 8 million years old [newscientist.com].

the oven was the clinching experiment (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424285)

They previously found something shiny, white, and hard. Small scrapings disappear after a few days by sublimination (solid evaportation). When a chunk of icy soil was put into an oven, then slowy heated, the thermometer got stuck at 0 degrees Celius for a while. This a science experiment done in junior high: heat a block of ice with a thermometer in it. The temperature rises until 0 degrees and stalls there until the ice is completely melted before rising again. Solid water has this phase change at this temperature.

suspected? are you kidding? (5, Interesting)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424295)

The Viking landers observed frost in the 70's. Mars obiters found huge amounts of water underground. Ice is clearly exposed in many photographs. Knowledge of ice and water on Mars goes way, way beyond "suspected". If detecting ice is all this mission yields, it's a big waste of money. This mission was intended to give detailed information about what's in the ice and soil, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

The question for the last decade or two has been whether there is liquid water on Mars. Despite the low air pressure, even pure liquid water can exist in some places and times: aquifers, briny puddles and lakes, lakes enclosed in ice, etc.

Re:suspected? are you kidding? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424417)

That's Carbon dioxide ice, you insensitive clod.

Re:suspected? are you kidding? (0)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424915)

Pure liquid water was never sampled by the Viking missions. The frost you refer to I assume are the pictures from the Utopia taken by the #2 lander. That wasn't pure water. Water vapor has been known to be in the Martian atmosphere for a long time. But that's true also for the higher levels of the Venus cloud cover, so it doesn't mean much in this context.

Despite the low air pressure

The average air pressure in Mars is about 7mb, which is comparable to the top of Everest.

A bit far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424299)

Now if they could only find water in Tucson, where the press release was issued.

Anybody check the concentration of deuterium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424317)

I bet it's high. Clear evidence that the al-Qaeda is developing WMDs on Mars! I bet they're well stockpiled there by now, what with all the bombs they moved there from Iraq.

Significance (2, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424453)

Is there any particular scientific significance to the discovery of water on Mars that isn't related to the possibility of discovering extraterrestrial life? I firmly believe that extraterrestrial life does not exist (and never has), so everybody else's excitement about it gets a little old after awhile. Is there another reason I should be excited about this?

Re:Significance (1)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424585)

Well of course the MAIN reason it is interesting is because it can support the argument that life may/have existed on Mars. However even if you aren't into that, water can be used as a power source which would make Mars much more inhabitable for humans in the future. But honestly, people only care about the question of life, not water, existing on Mars.

Re:Significance (1)

Vukovar (1203574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424801)

I don't understand how you can say that - if the universe is in a constant (albeit slow) state of change, and buying the theory that the universe is endless, I don't see how there couldn't be life in some form (not necessarily as we know it) in existence elsewhere. Scientific theroy isn't icon-clad - it stays a valid theory until something comes along that invalidates it. While probably unlikely that you're going to find the remnants of some ancient form of life on Mars, water is an essential building block for the existence of life (again, as we currently know it). What if the orbit of Mars was similar to that of earth at one time, and Mars was exposed to a similar set of circumstances that brought the process of life to earth (going from the scientific approach, not the opposing biblical version)? Would not the discovery mean something then? Better yet, what if the discovery of water there invalidates some long-standing scientific theory? Could it not then force some new way of thinking?

Re:Significance (0, Troll)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424815)

I firmly believe that extraterrestrial life does not exist

I don't care if you believe that the tooth fairy lives in everyone's rectum. The remaining skeptics will take evidence as evidence (in this case, that the water on mars we saw from space is in fact real water), for belief only requires the delusional confidence of one's self.

Optimism is something completely different however. I can say I'm a skeptic who is optimistic about extraterrestrial life, yet accepts the fact that there is evidence lacking.

Re:Significance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424817)

Well maybe not for you, but hey why don't just skip over this article and find something you would rather be interested in? Just saying...

Re:Significance (2, Insightful)

rhennigan (833589) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424991)

I firmly believe that extraterrestrial life does not exist (and never has)

Around here we tend to rely on evidence and not beliefs.

Re:Significance (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424995)

Like Carl Sagan once said, we humans are carbon chauvinists. We want life in other planets/places to be similar to the stuff we have here on Earth, and water is an agreeable medium for most carbon-based organisms (and compounds) to thrive on.

So if you find liquid water, it follows that you might also find something that approaches life in or near it.

I firmly believe that extraterrestrial life

Look up at the night sky some time and try to wonder if all that is there just to look pretty to us elite chosen ones.

life on mars (-1)

Lilo-x (93462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424565)

if this leads to the discovery of life where will this leave creation theory and the believers we are the only intelligent lifeforms int he universe? (probably still with their heads stuck in the sand)

I think we can expect this to be met with a lack luster response after recent announcements it was a given, this doesn't remove it from being one of the most exciting discoveries in our lifetimes however.

Now if we can only discover a way to efficiently utilise our water resource on earth in a manner to provide power and life then we may reach a position where we can pop of to mars and sustain some quality of life..

The ironic thing of this may be however we have just destroyed the Martian "Ice cap" :D

Re:life on mars (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424941)

I suppose they could go and join all the looneys holed up in bomb shelters who believed the world was going to end at the turn of the millenium.

But really, in a potentially infinite universe (and of course no one can yet say it ISN'T infinite seeing as the universe is not only expanding, but that expansion is accelerating also), anything is possible.

I can't see how anyone can DENY the fact the we cannot be alone in the universe, and that the whole thing is just so Adam and Eve had something pretty to look at at night.

How many billions were spent? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424623)

Just to prove common sense?

Sure space is cool.. and so are the expeditions.. But we could have done something even more cool on the mission if we went out there looking for what everyone knew was there.

Hell, by now we could have people running around on Mars instead of wasting it on finding water.

only water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24424779)

any Oil? dang it

water ice not previously "suspected" (3, Informative)

katakomb (1328459) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424789)

Just to reiterate a point that a few others have made: the presence of water ice at the surface of Mars has been understood since at least the 1970's for high latitudes. This goes for parts of the polar caps (also made up of CO2 ice), and the seasonal frosts that are known to coat the very study area visited by the Phoenix lander.

Here's a snippet from an abstract of an article from 1982 (Journal of Geophysical Research, 87:367-370): "A new reflectance spectrum of the Martian north polar cap is analyzed, and it shows water ice absorption features. This evidence confirms the result of the Viking IRTM and MAWD experiments, which indicate that the north residual polar cap of Mars is composed of water ice during the season observed." The Viking 2 lander directly saw seasonal frost in the late 70's, as the Phoenix lander will in the coming months: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/jplhistory/captions/vikinglander-t.php [nasa.gov]

The Phoenix results are new in that ice has been directly confirmed for shallow regolith ("soil") materials at the Phoenix site (as opposed to spectroscopically identified from orbit or from the Earth). This is a nice and important result, but is not a huge surprise (the site is known to be seasonally coated with water-ice frosts, and its sediments are distributed in a polygonal pattern that is analogous to what we see at high latitudes on Earth where freeze-thaw action dominates).

Phoenix is a great mission, but let's also give due credit to earlier workers.

Department (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24424887)

from the so-val-kilmer-can-breathe-easy dept.

Val Kilmer? Don't you mean Dan Quayle?

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit ... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."
-- Vice President Dan Quayle, 1989-08-11 (reported in Esquire, 1992-08)

Total Recall (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 5 years ago | (#24425023)

Now we just need Governor Arnold to place his hand on that weird control panel to melt all of that martian ice and give the planet an atmosphere.

So what! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24425031)

Who cares about water? We have plenty of that here! Phoenix should be looking for Martian babes with green skin, a third breast on their back (for slow dancing), and whose only concept of clothes is some kind of thong bikini...

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