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Orbiter Reveals Rock Fracture Plumbing On Mars

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the more-evidence-for-hydrogen-hydroxide dept.

Mars 61

Riding with Robots writes "Mars researchers report that a robotic spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet has revealed hundreds of small fractures exposed on the Martian surface that once directed flows of water through underground Martian sandstone. 'This study provides a picture of not just surface water erosion, but true groundwater effects widely distributed over the planet,' said one of the mission scientists for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been regularly returning terabytes of high-resolution images and other kinds of data from Mars."

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Plumbing? (4, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175283)

Who cares about alien plumbing?
I want their electronics!

Re:Plumbing? (4, Funny)

Umuri (897961) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175313)

Ignorant fool!
Everyone knows that the key to intergalactic understanding is knowledge of the location and inner workings of alien plumbing!

Why do you think everytime another intergalactic race stops by here, that they anal prob our hillbillies?

Plumbing inspection, i'm telling you!

Re:Plumbing? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175373)

Opinions are like arseholes, every sentient species has one.

Re:Plumbing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25176467)

every sentient species has one.

Only one per species? My top five guesses for the arsehole of Homo Sapiens are: George W. Bush; Vladimir Putin; Kim Jong Il; Jeremy Paxman; Steven Harper.

Re:Plumbing? (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177665)

And some aren't afraid to show theirs.

Re:Plumbing? (1)

Fizz753 (773692) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175735)

So THAT'S what Captain Kirk was up to! Inspecting alien plumbing.

Re:Plumbing? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175905)


Bah! The chances of anything living on Mars, are a million to one.

Re:Plumbing? (1)

Djehuty3 (1371395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25176791)

Unfortunately, Million to one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Re:Plumbing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175525)

I wish my girlfriend was more interested in my plumbings than my electronics :/

Re:Plumbing? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25176167)

That's what you get for drooling over Seven of Nine.

Re:Plumbing? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175705)

Who cares about alien plumbing?

Itsa me, Mario!

Well, if the alien has 3 tits... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25176501)

then I'd like to lay some pipe, if you catch my drift.

Ted Kennedy had a seizure, and has a brain tumor. Can you feel Mary Jo Kopechne's cold fingers clawing at you from the grave, Senator? She's beckoning, hoping you'll join her like you planned to before that terrible night you'd forgotten about until death loomed at your door. Patience, my dear Mary Jo. The Senator will be with you shortly...

Re:Plumbing? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177429)

Who cares about alien plumbing?
I want their electronics!

But but...you need to understand how their the "tubes" work to gain martian internet access. Right?

Misguided (0)

Ryukotsusei (1164453) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175329)

Why do we care about ground water in Mars? Don't we have bigger things to do here on Earth? All these Mars missions seem like a major waste of resources. Where is our moon base?

Re:Misguided (3, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175527)

All these Mars missions seem like a major waste of resources.

Waste of resources? How else would we know that Martian rocks have cracks in them

Re:Misguided (2, Funny)

bestiarosa (938309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175963)

Having a moon base, on the other hand, would not be a major waste of funds.

Re:Misguided (5, Insightful)

lordholm (649770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25176371)

Going to the moon could have been seen as a waste of resources, but it brought back rocks that has helped us understand our own planets past.

Going over the Atlantic in the 1400s was probably a waste of resources, I mean, people were still clinging over the idea that the Earth was flat at that time, but yet, somehow someone went over in order to find another way to India (sort of suggesting that at least some people thought the Earth was round), but in anycase, what they found was a new continent, but yeah, it was a waste of resources anyway. I mean, people where pretty sure that the ships would fall of the edge of the planet then.

People experimenting with flying in the 1800s and early 1900s where probably wasting resources as well, I mean, what's the point. You could go (almost) anywhere on the planet by ship, horse and foot.

Sending up the first satellites was a waste of resources, I mean, we have no use for meteorological reports or detailed maps or navigation systems. I mean, we where doing fine before this, and who would have known that those applications would be developed using satellites.

In-fact, our early ancestors leaving Africa probably wasted a lot of resources transporting themselves to Europe and Asia, what is the point of going somewhere at all? They should have stayed in Africa and made sure that the problems at home where solved before they decided to leave.

Re:Misguided (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25176769)

I'm sick of the comparison of crossing the Atlantic to space travel. The two are completely different. Columbus was attempting to find a cheaper route to known resources which could not be found locally. He was using ages old technologies which could easily be repaired by the ship's carpenter at any convenient island. His intended cargo would have paid for his journey no matter which way he went. Space travel, on the other hand, is not about cheaper resources. Everything is cheaper on Earth. Space travel uses experimental technologies (granted, it is well tested) that cannot be easily repaired en route. Finally, space travel has, apart from communications, weather, and other Earth monitoring satellites, never been profitable.

Probably the only point at which they might favourably compare is in the percentage of the gross national wealth needed to fund the voyages.

Re:Misguided (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177165)

Probably the only point at which they might favourably compare is in the percentage of the gross national wealth needed to fund the voyages.

Probably not. Three ships aren't all that expensive, even in the time and place Comumbus wanted them.

Note, however, one crucial difference - while Columbus was trying to sell the voyage as a trip to the Indies, most educated people knew that that was impossible. Contrary to popular rumour, most everyone with any sort of education knew perfectly well that the world was round, and knew about how big it was. Columbus sold his trip by lying about the size of the planet, and either got the Queen of Spain to hock her jewels (apocrypohal, by the by) by fooling her (unlikely in the extreme), or because she knew perfectly well that those Basque fishermen that were sailing from her ports to Newfoundland for codfish before Columbus ever thought of his voyage knew of a place west of Spain a hell of a lot closer than the Indies (you don't prepare codfish for transport on a ship, you've pretty much got to have dry land for that).

Re:Misguided (1)

lordholm (649770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177897)

There are plenty of resources in space that may prove profitable to mine. He-3 on the moon is probably the best example at this time, but there are several other bodys out there that can provide resources for humankind.

Sending probes to Mars is inherently useful since it helps us understand the origin of the solar system and to prepare humankind for the problems involved with long duration space travel. It also gives us very important information necessary for future colonisation of Mars (I mean, you really need to see the place before you send in the settlers).

But in order to go back to the resource wasting, yes Columbus did go after trade routes, but, in essence it was a very high risk undertaking. Waste of resources though would also be any fundamental research and sciences conducted ever. Why, well, because a lot of the fundamental research has had ZERO economic gain from them directly, but a lot of fundamental research has in the long term led to an easier life and to profits.

Just because something at the moment only have a direct value in knowledge; it doesn't mean that you should stop doing it as you can never be sure about what the applications will be in a hundred years.

I would say that a better liking to the Mars exploration being carried out now than the crossing of the Atlantic that I mentioned (note, that there were more points there) is for example some of the early scientific investigations of for example temperature. Understanding temperature or other fundamental properties did in the early days not give any return of investment, so what was the point, well now we have refrigerators, airconditioning systems, engines et.c. et.c.

So, the point here is that the accumulation of knowledge will in many cases lead to a better life and wealth maybe a 100 years after the initial research.

In the specific case of Mars, there are a lot of interesting things with the planet, especially since the history of Earth and Mars are so similar. Understanding Mars is understanding our own past.

Re:Misguided (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182243)

By all means, go for the technological advances it brings. By all means, go for the scientific knowledge. By all means, go for the sheer adventure of it. Just don't compare space travel to some second rate Genoese navigator wanting to take a short cut to China, because there are no practical similarities.

Re:Misguided (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177963)

Space travel, on the other hand, is not about cheaper resources. Everything is cheaper on Earth.

Everything is cheaper on Earth, RIGHT NOW.

Everything is more abundant in Space, Full Stop.

When the cost of getting things to orbit gets cheaper, and the technology robust enough to repair en route we will have to re-evaluate the comparison.

And yes I've read Roland Brak's thoughts on Asteroid Mining.

http://ronaldbrak.blogspot.com/2006/02/great-asteroid-mining-con.html [blogspot.com]

Don't forget there was a time when boats were not so seaworthy, navigation not so advanced and sailors stayed close to the shore. The overland route to Asia was the only sure fire way to get there.

Re:Misguided (1)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 5 years ago | (#25179873)

Read about the Flat Earth Myth [wikipedia.org] . By the early middle ages, and certainly by Columbus's time, it was almost universally accepted that the earth is round.

The reason why nobody wanted to fund Columbus's voyage is that he wildly miscalculated the distance to Asia, thinking that it was far closer than it really was. Everybody else had more or less accurately calculated the westward traveling distance to Asia and knew that current ships couldn't make that far of a journey. Coincidentally, the American continents happened to be roughly where Columbus thought Asia was supposed to be, and now he has a national holiday in his honor.

Columbus got lucky in several ways (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180403)

Plato thought the earth was round because spheres were really really cool perfectness. But by the time of Eratosthenes ~1700 years before Columbus, Greek astronomers had a pretty good idea how big the earth was (within 5-10%, depending on quite how long a stadia was), and they had a reasonably accurate estimate of the distance to the moon as well. An Indian astronomer around 500 AD had the circumference to within 60km. Columbus, on the other hand, thought the Earth was only 25000 km around, not 25000 miles (though in other units; it wasn't really a metric-English confusion, but it was a confusion about which kind of miles were being used :-), so as MatskEE says, he got very lucky that he into the Americas before he ran out of food and water.

On the other hand, he got out of Spain just after the Spanish Inquisition took over, and while maybe nobody expected it before then, lots of people expected it to continue once it had arrived.

Re:Misguided (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182497)

Going to the moon could have been seen as a waste of resources, but it brought back rocks that has helped us understand our own planets past.

It could have been done cheaper via automated probes. Debates about this get long and heated, I should note; but I find the "robot" side the stronger argument.
         

Re:Misguided (1)

lordholm (649770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183815)

No, it could not have been done cheeper with automatic probes at that time. The state of art artificial intelligence was not on level of what would be required for good scientific value to be brought back.

You could have built a machine to bring back rocks, yes, but at that time, AI was not even close to be able to find rocks of interest. It is approaching that level today though. So... you basically needed 30-40 years of investments in computer science and AI in order to approach a level of technology that could accomplish the scientific values that was brought back by humans from the moon.

Now, tell me whether paying X people developing man rated modules for the moon or if paying Y people developing AI and computer science and technology was cheeper?

Sending up a geologist (which they did), brought in situ intelligence that could investigate interesting targets of opportunity (which they did).

Today, the situation is maybe a bit different with respect to AI and advanced computer systems, and it is maybe possible to find the interesting rocks autonomously. But, when the moon voyages was taking place, this was not the case.

So, while the arguments may be applicable with respect to the current state of the art and exploration of Mars (I am not saying I agree, but anyhow) (the firm I am currently on is developing an autonomous robotic scientist for future Mars missions), they can hardly be applied to the early manned missions to the moon.

Re:Misguided (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25190753)

Who says anything about AI? In general its hard to tell what the rocks are about until brought to an expensive Earth lab anyhow. Geologists on the moon didn't seem to help much. Plus, a remote camera can take detail at least as good as the human eye can see, and in more colors than visible to the human eye, so that multiple human experts on Earth can examine them for candidate returns.

Re:Misguided (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177375)

Waste is an important requirement of human progress. Waste is to civilization what compost is to gardening.

Take the 19th century British railroad bubble. Loads of people lost their shirts investing in rail companies, the result was that Britain gained an excellent rail network at little public expense.

Take the Internet bubble of the 90s, where many quixotic ventures started with a hasty powerpoint presentation and a VC desperate to get some kind of stake in the land rush. Vast fortunes where burned on hopeless enterprises, and many a personal fortune made off of anticipated cash flows with far less NPV. Vast amounts of money was wasted, but as a result the infrastructure of the Internet was greatly extended and made the foundation of new, more productive enterprises.

Take the most useless human activity of all: war. War is widely acknowledged as a major driver of technological and scientific progress.

Things would be great if human beings could sit down and set their minds on creating progress, but that's not what people are like. Progress comes from people attempting to adapt to altered circumstances. An expanded view of the universe and a reduced view of man's place in it certainly qualifies as altered circumstances. For some it is a calamity.

Re:Misguided (1)

Glyphstream (1101409) | more than 5 years ago | (#25179859)

I'm fairly certain most of our Earth based activities are a major waste of resources anyways, so why not?

Re:Misguided (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181835)

Why do we care about ground water in Mars? Don't we have bigger things to do here on Earth? All these Mars missions seem like a major waste of resources. Where is our moon base?

Boy, are you in the wrong thread.

mmm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175353)

i farted.

google chrome dead??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175423)

who will post the next google chrome story:
[ ] katz
[ ] chris di-fatso- bona
[ ] rob
[ ] taco
[ ] neal

pls post somethin otherwise people will think its dead!!!

cracks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175431)

I really don't want to hear about Martian plumber crack, thanks.

Regularly returning terabytes.. from MARS. (-1, Offtopic)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175455)

Ok.. so a probe is regularly returning terabytes across the solar system, but ISP's are forming lobbying pacs proclaiming they can't offer the speeds they advertised for people on earth.

Something's rotten in the state of denmark.

Re:Regularly returning terabytes.. from MARS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175523)

not playing devil's advocate here but how's that even remotely related?

Re:Matian Plumber's Crack jokes. (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180415)

I don't know, but my first reaction was that they were trying to say that rocks fractured the Mars Lander's plumbing, and my second reaction was that there should be a bad joke about plumber's cracks on Mars in there somewhere. Maybe you've just got better taste...

Re:Regularly returning terabytes.. from MARS. (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175601)

Ok.. so a probe is regularly returning terabytes across the solar system, but ISP's are forming lobbying pacs proclaiming they can't offer the speeds they advertised for people on earth.

Something's rotten in the state of denmark.

Yeah because one probe with line of sight to the planet is just as complicated as networking millions of homes across a country that's several thousand miles wide.

Look, I'm annoyed at Comcast too, but let's not create any new PHB dialogue for Dilbert.

Re:Regularly returning terabytes.. from MARS. (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175713)

I'm quite certain if you paid as much for your data as NASA is for theirs, your ISP would be more than happy to run a dedicated OC-3 to your house. They might even toss in a complementary handjob.

Re:Regularly returning terabytes.. from MARS. (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175715)

Or complimentary, depending upon your happy ending preferences [damn I hate it when I write the wrong one of those two].

The surface is the illusion. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25175495)

The aliens are underneath the surface...

Data rate of 6Mb/s (2, Informative)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175545)

the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been regularly returning terabytes of high-resolution images and other kinds of data from Mars.

I was going to challenge this but it appears MRO transmits data about ten times faster [wikipedia.org] than other probes. Nevertheless, at 6 Megabits/second it would take 370 hours (over two weeks) to send one Terabyte.

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175569)

And? How long do you think it's been up there exactly?

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (5, Interesting)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175707)

Longer than that. It only has LOS with earth for 16 hours a day and uses 10 to 11 of those hours for data transmittal.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/spacecraft/communication.html [nasa.gov]

I was somewhat disappointed that the NASA page discusses the data in terms of how many CDs they would fill; however, at least they didn't try to tell me how many football fields would be required to lay the CDs edge-to-edge.

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (0)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175815)

you ignorant fool: it is the library of congress that matters! does the Mars R.Orbiter fit in the library ? :)

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (4, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175883)

You could have gone to the homepage http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ [nasa.gov]
There it states 67.5 Terrabits received. (Terrabits, not terrabytes)

And on http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/mission/sc_telecomm.html [nasa.gov] it gives a different figure, but that is static data, while on the first page it looks as if it is dynamic information.

The spacecraft has already provided more than 50 Terabits -- that's 50 million million bits. To put it another way, that's more than all the data transmitted by all previous JPL spacecraft put together!

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (4, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25176177)

You could have gone to the homepage http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ [nasa.gov]
There it states 67.5 Terrabits received. (Terrabits, not terrabytes)

They could have gotten it down to 99 kb, but the damn webmaster insisted on a Flash animation.

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (1)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25176237)

You could have gone to the homepage http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ [nasa.gov] There it states 67.5 Terrabits received. (Terrabits, not terrabytes)

Oh, the irony of a device on Mars transmitting terrabits of data.

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181857)

You could have gone to the homepage http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ [nasa.gov] There it states 67.5 Terrabits received. (Terrabits, not terrabytes)

Oh, the irony of a device on Mars transmitting terrabits of data.

Yeah ... especially since it's spelled terabits.

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (1)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183351)

Swooooosh

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (1)

ikeman32 (1333971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25218807)

The spacecraft has already provided more than 50 Terabits -- that's 50 million million bits. To put it another way, that's more than all the data transmitted by all previous JPL spacecraft put together!

Does not compute error!Geek violation detected, manditory geek terminology review forced! Kilo: 1 thousand octal Mega: 1 million octal Giga: 1 billion octal Tera: 1 trillion octal

Geek terminology review terminated! Further geek violations may result in requiring violator to write 50 (base 10) sentences hand written in binary code. "press the any key to continue.

Re:Data rate of 6Mb/s (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187169)

nevertheless, at 6 Megabits/second it

goddamnit, they've got faster broadband on Mars than I've got at my house.

yeah, so my latency is better, bfd.

canals (3, Interesting)

kenbo11 (1097593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175679)

Ahhh! the true martian canals!

Re:canals (2, Interesting)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25175727)

I was thinking the same thing. I suspect Percival Lowell would have been happy that the discovery was made on a mission run, in part, from the observatory bearing his name.

Re:canals (1)

dragonbutt (690833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177237)

Looks more like they took a hi-rez picture of an elephant's butt.

Re:canals (1)

slider3618 (1211542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182121)

That would be HUGE - elephants on Mars - or at least elephant-butt like creatures. Excuse the wisecrack (pun intended)

AWESOME! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25177227)

THIS IS HUGE!!!! Now lets see if we can find water.

Water? Who gives a flip???!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181817)

What I wanna know is whether Mars has any oil, natural gas, or Brazilian steakhouses!

Re:Water? Who gives a flip???!!! (1)

slider3618 (1211542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182105)

Undoubtedly.

Oh no (1)

Friendly Pyro (1360639) | more than 5 years ago | (#25192405)

OH NO the planet that has continued to serve us in no way has cracks. I actually only clicked on this because I thought it said Mars has crack and I had to do a double-take.

Name redundency detected (1)

ikeman32 (1333971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25219515)

I guess I am in one of those technicality moods, but will reading the initial post I always read the from such-and-such-department. In this post it says for the more-evidence-of-hydrogen-hydroxide-department. Hydrogen Hydroxide, aka H2O, aka water, is a bit redundant and cumbersome wouldn't it be more correct to call it Dihydrogen Monoxide? Ok I'll shutup now.
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