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Massive Martian Glaciers Found

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the could-be-a-trick dept.

Space 314

Kozar_The_Malignant writes "Scientific American is reporting that 'data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter point to vast glaciers buried beneath thin layers of crustal debris.' Data from the surface-penetrating radar on MRO revealed that two well-known mid-latitude features are composed of solid water ice. One is about three times the size of the City of Los Angeles. This certainly makes the idea of establishing a station on Mars far more plausible."

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Time to move... (5, Interesting)

kainewynd2 (821530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841317)

And it's about time. Now we just need to get some "volunteers" to get on a spaceship...

Re:Time to move... (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841331)

And it's about time. Now we just need to get some "volunteers" to get on a spaceship...

Me first!

Re:Time to move... (5, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841379)

Valentine Michael Smith?

Weren't you born there?

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841759)

Valentine Michael Smith?

Weren't you born there?

I wish I had mod points for this!

Re:Time to move... (5, Interesting)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841597)

Me first!

Yes indeed, you first! I'll be satisfied to have myself cryogenically frozen (Did I happen to mention you first for that too?) and thawed out in a generation or three when the colonization effort is well under way. Guess I'm not much for a.) getting slowly cooked by solar radiation b.) constantly worrying about a hole the size of a pinprick sucking all the atmosphere out of the ship, c.) either losing my sanity in the confines of ship I can't leave for months on end or waiting for my fellow shipmates to do the same and d.) finally arriving at my destination which is even less hospitable and almost certainly more dangerous than life on the ship.

Seriously, the first people to go to Mars would almost have to have a deathwish to do so.

Re:Time to move... (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841647)

Seriously, the first people to go to Mars would almost have to have a deathwish to do so.

In Kim Stanley Robinson's novel of Mars colonization Red Mars [amazon.com] , the author suggests that any colonists would have to be somewhat eccentric. That's not because of the dangers they will face, but because they are leaving behind friends, family and the general wider human society for the rest of their lives. Administrators would have a bunch of misfits on their hands and would have to assign expert psychologists to handle the situation.

But as for the dangers of radiation, you just build underground, though of course working on the surface will expose you to a lot.

Re:Time to move... (2, Interesting)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841833)

Great series, admittedly I had the first part of Red Mars in my head while I was typing that post up. Anyone for eating dirt and joining the new Martian cult? ;-)

Building underground is probably best idea to avoid radiation (this is probably a good idea for a moon base as well), but I would hope that by the time we are seriously considering manned missions to Mars that we have better protection against radiation.

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841903)

Administrators would have a bunch of misfits on their hands and would have to assign expert psychologists to handle the situation.

Sounds about right considering that the "volunteers" will most likely be prisoners that will be drugged into submissive conformity. If we ever find a planet suitable "as is" for colonization and colonists can pack up and disappear into the wilderness of the planet and essentially survive on their own, then you can expect some volunteers that are more then willing to escape from the planet earth.

Re:Time to move... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841683)

Seriously, the first people to go to Mars would almost have to have a deathwish to do so.

So maybe we can send enough materials for 6 months of life for 4 people. Then send 8 criminals and make a reality show out of it. See who survives and how and use that data for future missions. Or send equipment for 4 people to be able to sustain themselves indefinitely and send 8 people.

Re:Time to move... (5, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841705)

"Seriously, the first people to go to Mars would almost have to have a deathwish to do so."
 
  Replace mars with the new world and it holds true. Your points a, c and d also hold true. For b if you change it to sinking then you are right there too. I'm pretty fucking sure the first people on mars will be remembered as heroes for a loooooong time.

Re:Time to move... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841893)

Why is this being modded flamebait? Your points are all valid (I'll even give you a if you're talking about dying of exposure) in regards to the new world. The folks who made the trip would probably be the first to tell us it was hell. Also, nothing says you can't be a hero and still have a deathwish ;-)

Re:Time to move... (4, Insightful)

ahodgson (74077) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842029)

It's a tad worse than the new world. No air and no food. Dust that will corrode anything. Poor mineral deposits. No open water. Basically, complete alien and inhospitable environment. Being second best in the solar system is a pretty low bar.

Pluses for no hostile natives, though.

Re:Time to move... (4, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842237)

no one is going to be sailing to Mars in a 15th century galleon or caravel. the reason our "New World" is Mars is because technology has advanced a fair bit since the 1400's.

our astronauts aren't going to be stricken by scurvy, nor are they going to contract polio, malaria, or other now preventable diseases. they also won't die form bacterial infections that killed millions of people before antibiotics were discovered. that means a small cut or cavity won't turn into sepsis or bacteremia and kill you.

astronauts are also not at risk of getting lost due to a lack of modern navigation technology. in fact, any trip to mars will likely be backed by billions of dollars of science/research, technology, and years of extensive preparation and planning. and any candidates for Mars exploration or colonization will be specially chosen for their educational and technical background and given additional training on top of that. so they're likely to fare a little better than the average 15th century explorer.

and even people who climb Mt. Everest bring their own oxygen, food & water. why would astronauts going to Mars need to worry about no air/food? if we were going to send anyone to colonize Mars they'd be living inside of a space habitat. they're not going to be dropped off on Mars butt naked without any supplies or shelter. in all likelihood by the time we send our first manned mission there'll already be some kind of habitation module, sustainable power plant, chemical oxygen generator, and usable water supply.

any astronaut going to Mars is going to have a much longer life expectancy than the average 15th century European, much less a 15th century explorer. aside from perhaps the psychological strain, going to Mars would be a cakewalk compared to traveling to the New World in the 1400's.

Re:Time to move... (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842415)

No bears or poisonous snakes on Mars at least. Or pissed off natives who are sick of your evil shit.

Re:Time to move... (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842117)

It is worse, but at this point the people would know what they are getting into. We have a lot of data about the environment. The first explorers to the new world didn't even know where it was. A hospitable atmosphere obviously wasn't a concern, but the presence of easily accessible food certainly would have been.

Re:Time to move... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841761)

If I were to plan an appealing Mars mission, it would involve landing robotic craft with prefabbed habitats two years (or more) before humans are scheduled to arrive. The robots could send back images and data about how nice and cozy the habitats are (or are not), and they might even get busy harvesting water from the local glacier.

Not as appealing as the idea of landing on a beach and being treated as gods, but that didn't really work out to be so easy, either.

Re:Time to move... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842013)

Not a bad idea, but it sounds like a lot could go wrong with it. If something did go wrong just how costly would it be in terms of money, resources and time? Think about how costly the rover missions have been, and then probably quadruple that amount (if not more). I mean, we're not talking about roaming with a relatively small robot, we're talking about establishing semi-permanent housing for people which can't have any mistakes in the construction process. Two years also sounds like a very long time to have the habitats established before the arrival of humans, I would say 10 months maybe (I think I remember 9 months being the estimated travel time to Mars?) which would give us enough time to call the project off if there was a problem.

It also isn't a bad idea to harvest any kind of water we can from glaciers, as well as any other resources we can dig up while we're there. I would say that that that approach would be absolutely necessary to a successful manned mission. This goes along with what I was saying earlier about the cost of the pre-established habitat. Whatever supplies we sent ahead would be extremely expensive monetarily as well as in terms of storage and fuel spent getting it there.

All in all it would be an extremely costly and dangerous prospect, and there would have to be some serious gains to be made to make it worth anyone's time. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for exploration in the name of science, but it doesn't change the fact that a mission such as this wouldn't be a walk in the park.

That's actually an interesting idea (3, Insightful)

Alicat1194 (970019) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841867)

Seriously, the first people to go to Mars would almost have to have a deathwish to do so.

One of the problems with sending people to Mars is how to get them back again. If we could find volunteers who have a shortened life expectancy (terminal cancer, etc), would it be terribly unethical to send them? No need to worry about return/retrieval, and if you're already dying, you've got to admit that it'd be a heck of a way to go.

Re:That's actually an interesting idea (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842075)

If we could find volunteers who have a shortened life expectancy (terminal cancer, etc), would it be terribly unethical to send them?

I wouldn't think it would be unethical as long as they are fully aware of what it is they are being asked to do, but would they necessarily be the type we would want to send on a mission as important and costly as this would be? It would be commendable if someone decided to dedicate their remaining time to such a cause, but what happens if their illness takes a turn for the worse and the mission ends prematurely? Any goals which were dependent on their survival up to a certain point couldn't be met, and the whole thing could be a wash.

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841963)

Some people have The Right Stuff. Some don't. Plenty of people stayed home when the Americas were colonized too, and generally led happier, easier lives. Except for that whole 30 Years' War thing.

Re:Time to move... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841969)

Or leaving a worse shithole. There are places in the news every day that I'd prefer less than Mars given a choice. Hell even in the USA if it's a way out of poverty I bet a lot of people would jump at the chance. You might not be getting the best educated but no one would work harder and with more dedication for a steady job and a chance at a new life.

Re:Time to move... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842149)

Hmmmmm, given the choice between living in abject poverty and being sent to a frozen hell with an unbreathable atmosphere with an almost zero chance of ever returning and giving up everything familiar and even remotely comfortable I think I would take the abject poverty. Living in a sterile tincan (or a hole in the ground) and not being able to step outside without an airtight, insulated and heated suit for the rest of my life doesn't exactly sound appealing. There is always a chance you can get out of poverty (especially in the US), and even if people did jump at that chance to go they would be out of their minds..... then again that was the point I was making to begin with ;-)

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25842057)

You act as if we couldn't deal with what you mentioned. It isn't that hard.

First, we create and launch the mars ship in an orbit similar with the space station. Empty of course. Then we use the shuttle and a few Soyuz trips to shuttle rocket thrusters, and so on to the ship. But before loading that, we line the walls of the ship with a marshmallow like green slime tire sealant [slime.com] substance that when at normal pressure remains pliable but when under pressure like leaking being forced through a small pin hole, it hardens and seals the leak. Then we load a plastic tube in the main crew compartment in case a larger hole happens so the crew can make efforts to get in. Then on one trip, we layer reflectice substances at angles to deflect the radiation into pockets that can convert it to energy of some usable sort.

Next, we create a scientific work load full of menial and repetitive tasks like cleaning the hydroponic systems and reprogramming different lander options into the landing craft as well as rehearsing exiting, docking, landing and launch sequences. after that, we load up a couple of Xboxes and Playstations with a network play ability and the ability to download new content that being sent to them while in flight. Finally, we launch a scout rocket to ferry fuel and supplies, spare parts, and a launch craft (to get off the planet) that will be waiting in orbit for us to dock with. Perhaps another complete with probes and several rovers or something similar.

Then after all that is done, we send the crew up, start preparations, they change orbit, slingshot around the moon and go off on their way to mars. 10 to 15 hours a say are devoted to work of some kind, another 2 or so to personal hygiene and maintenance around the ship, the rest to entertainment like playing halo or something or watching the latest flick that has been beaming up to them over the last week. Outside the entire work and hygiene thing, it wouldn't be much different the most geeks life in the basement. it will be fun, trust me.

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25842177)

Me first!

Seriously, the first people to go to Mars would almost have to have a deathwish to do so.

I'm sure that's what people said about all of the explorers that it took to find the americas too. Exploration costs lives, that's what makes it truly a frontier. The only thing we are missing is a good economical reason to be going. Columbus wasn't coming here just to explore, he had profit on his mind.

Re:Time to move... (5, Funny)

egr (932620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842181)

if you make spaceship look like a basement some wouldn't even notice that they were going to Mars

Re:Time to move... (3, Insightful)

Lallander (968402) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841335)

I'll go as long as I can get internet access.

Re:Time to move... (4, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841543)

Meanwhile, sometime in the future:

"Owners of the Martian Pirate Bay today mocked a letter from Earth lawyers. 'Ooh, you scare us like the quidlap-iko after sunfall. We have news for you, your laws don't apply here. So stuff it up your ozone hole!'"

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841549)

We [nasa.gov] got you covered. [nasa.gov]

Re:Time to move... (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841845)

"I'll go as long as I can get internet porn".

There, fixed that for you...

Re:Time to move... (1)

lendude (620139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842219)

I suspect fixing "I'll go as long as I can get internet access" to read "I'll go as long as I can get internet porn" is redundant...

after all, internet=porn (plus some other irrelevant stuff).

Re:Time to move... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841989)

Shouldn't be any problem as long as you don't mind the 6 digit ping times.

Re:Time to move... (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842311)

Sure you can . . . but it's going to be a little laggy.

Re:Time to move... (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841787)

Sign me up.

Re:Time to move... (4, Funny)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841855)

Send the most useless third of the population first, but make sure to keep at least one telephone sanitizer back here at home.

Re:Time to move... (4, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842011)

"Send the most useless third of the population first"

And shut down slashdot? - Never!!!

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25842243)

We'll all die of a virulent disease from an unsanitary pay phone! don't you read?!!

Bring your waders... (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842065)

In response to this finding, Al Gore has called for a full investigation into the potential catastrophic effects of man-made interaction with said glaciers, and also for an investigation into how he might exploit these potential effects to bring himself more fame, money, Nobel Peace prizes, and maybe a friend, this time.

Re:Time to move... (1)

DogAlmity (664209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842221)

Volunteers? Starship? Rock on!!!

Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution Got to revolution

Though technically they were still an airplane at the time.

Re:Time to move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25842365)

Let's send the Puritans, again.

Recall... (2, Funny)

zazenation (1060442) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841333)

Get your ass to Mars...
Get your ass to Mars...
Get your ass to Mars...

Re:Recall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841849)

I suggest that we don't go considering what happens to people [cyberpunkreview.com]

Indeed, so we can (1)

mrbobjoe (830606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842225)

start the reactor

Why? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841341)

Why the need to spell out water ice? Shouldn't H2O be implied and if it's something else (methane, ammonia, etc) then spell it out.
Just wondering.

Re:Why? (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841359)

CO2 ice...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841519)

You mean dry ice [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841431)

because scientists don't like to use vague and imprecise language.

if "ice" means "water ice," then what do you say when you just want to refer to ice of any kind?

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

GorgarWillEatYou (523390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841553)

Solid

Re:Why? (0)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841667)

then what are you going to call solids?

you're just digging a deeper and deeper nomenclatural hole by using imprecise (and in this case outright incorrect) terminology.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841785)

then what are you going to call solids?

Why, "CowboyNeal", of course!

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25842049)

Huh? How is GorgarWillEatYou digging a nomenclatural hole? Also, what imprecise terminology? Solid, liquid, gas. That's it (unless you want to go into plasmas and Bose-Einstein condensates, etc.). Ice is a special word that's used for the solid form of water (usually the crystalline form, but I've heard people talk about amorphous solid water as amorphous ice). It's sometimes generically used for the solid form of things that are are normally liquids or gases here on earth, but if you really want to avoid imprecise (or possibly outright incorrect) terminology, you won't call anything but solid water ice. In fact, you should probably avoid even that if you really want to avoid being imprecise.

Re:Huh? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842327)

from Wikipedia:

Ice is a solid phase, usually crystalline, of a non-metallic substance that is liquid or gas at room temperature, such as ammonia ice or methane ice.

ice clearly isn't synonymous with solid. ice may be a solid, but not all solids are ice. one is a subset of the other. just like a whale is a cetacean, but it would be idiotic to say cetacean is synonymous with whales when not all cetaceans are whales.

like i said earlier, if you're going to refer to ice simply as solids, then how do you distinguish ices from all solids (which includes non-ices)?

the term ice only becomes imprecise when you start conflating it worth other words/meanings. that's why the article says water ice. how is that imprecise compared to just calling it "ice"? and how is equivocating "ice" with "solid" more precise when you're replacing a term with its proper superset?

Re:Why? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842123)

Have you taken high school chemistry yet?

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

hkmarks (1080097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841607)

"Ice" and "metal" have different meanings in planetary science than regular old chemistry. "Ice" can refer to any solid "volatile" substance (water, ammonia, methane, hydrogen...) and "metal" (IIRC) refers to other solids (carbon, silicon, iron...). Since lots of carbon dioxide ice has been found on mars in the past, it's worth making the distinction.

Also, when you're talking about the makeup of stars, "metal" refers to everything other than hydrogen or helium.

IANA astronomer, planetary geologist, etc.

Total Recall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841353)

Quick! Send Arnold to activate the alien terraform device!

Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841355)

Uh, could you convert that to Libraries of Congress, if you don't mind?

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (5, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841479)

LoCs are data size. CoLAs are a measure of land area.

Everyone knows that - it's taught to kids before they are even 30 shark nipples high.

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841533)

Though, indeed, the Library of Congress is in fact an actual structure with a measurable volume. So if we assume the Library of Congress has a volume... Ugh. I just can't be bothered.

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841869)

Step One: Assume a spherical Library of Congress. (The rest is left as a trivial exercise.)

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841633)

All these years I thought shark nipples were a measure of area, well I guess you learn something new every day.

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841679)

Height only, and the standards body uses a constant water temperature so as to ensure accuracy.

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841687)

All these years I thought shark nipples were a measure of area, well I guess you learn something new every day.

That explains why you keep parking your car on my property. My plot begins precisely 83 ocelot sphincters from your fish-ward wall. Get a tape measure that works!!

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25842085)

No, you have confused shark nipples with tits on a boar.

Re:Three times the size of City of Los Angeles? (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841673)

And don't forget that San-Diegos are used for power measurements!

Funny they mention LA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841357)

Heh, and the City of Los Angeles is already planning a Clarke-style elevator to get into LEO. Just what's needed to bring big chunks of Martian glacier out of those cargo ships and down to thirsty Angelinos.

Fossil water (5, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841367)

What's interesting to me, is that they mention in TFA that this ice can't have formed recently. The current Martian climate won't allow it. Meaning that the glacier was laid down ages ago when such formations were still possible, got buried beneath the debris, and has basically been sitting there since.

Forget water harvesting, I'm more interested in studying the ice in situ. If there ever was life on Mars (which is independent of the question of whether there's life there now), the odds are good we'd find evidence of it frozen in the glacier. Cold preserves, objects frozen in ice erode slowly, and the living things generally need water to survive.

Of course, anything that ever lived on Mars would likely have been microscopic. I doubt we'd find anything as big as a terrestrial animal. It'd still be the first evidence of life outside of our own planet though, which is a pretty frickin' huge deal.

Suck my cock (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841461)

All of it.

PS: You're a moron.

Re:Fossil water (2, Interesting)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841531)

Since current atmospheric conditions wouldn't allow ice formation (it would just sublimate) -- at some point in the past, Mars must have had a decently thick atmosphere, which probably got blown off by some natural catastrophe -- maybe the crunch-up of the hypothetical next-planet-out (now known as the asteroid belt).

Re:Fossil water (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841697)

The theory that the asteroid belt is the remains of some planet is an old one that has long since fallen out of favour.

Re:Fossil water (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842121)

I know, but even if it's a failed planet -- might whatever reason it failed also be why Mars now lacks a proper atmosphere??

I suspect once we get more data, we're going to find that a lot of what we thought about Out There... ain't so :)

Re:Fossil water (3, Informative)

IHateEverybody (75727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842355)

I know, but even if it's a failed planet -- might whatever reason it failed also be why Mars now lacks a proper atmosphere??

Our atmosphere is protected by the Earth's magnetic field because it deflects the ionized particles which make up the Sun's powerful solar wind. Earth's magnetic field is produced by the rotation of its liquid outer core. Mars by contrast has a completely solid core and no magnetic field. Combined with its smaller size and lower gravity (about a third of the Earth's gravity) this lack of a magnetic field is the reason why Mars' atmosphere eroded away.

The reason for the "failed planet" that produced the asteroid belt is probably Jupiter. Jupiter's gravity is strong enough to pull material out of asteroid belt on a regular basis. If you combined all of the material in the asteroid belt, the resulting "planet" would be less massive than Mercury.

Re:Fossil water (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841575)

So kind of a Total Recall meets Encino Man movie might be in the works?

Re:Fossil water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841585)

Excellent point. The age of the deposits is fantastically interesting.

I doubt we'd find anything as big as a terrestrial animal.

Should we doubt that? Even if say life on Mars didn't go far beyond primordial, do we know enough about biological scale to say for certain that the early life would have to be small? And we know the small can form complexes, such as corals do.

Mars just got a heck of a lot more interesting anyway.

Re:Fossil water (4, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841829)

There are a couple reasons I wouldn't expect anything large. The more obvious reason is that, if there were large native lifeforms (plant, animal or what have you), they'd be the first to die off. Generally, the bigger you are, and the higher up the food chain, the harder an ecological catastrophe hits you.

Since Mars hasn't be suitable to most forms of life for ages, and since it seems likely it became gradually less and less habitable as time wore on, it stands to reason that larger hypothetical Martians would be long gone. Small, survivable life forms would stick around a lot longer, possibly even to the present day. The odds of finding something frozen in the (geologically) recent past are a good deal better than the odds of finding anything from a couple hundred million years ago.

The less obvious reason is that I doubt there ever were large Martian lifeforms. There's a world of difference (pardon the pun) between being totally ecologically sterile and being Earth-like, and while I'd wager that Mars probably had something alive sometime in it's history, I doubt it ever got much past bacteria, and maybe simple plants. Too cold for one thing, and too dry. I've seen a couple different theories about how Mars was in the past, but nothing I've read suggests abundant heat, or water, or a thick atmosphere.

Granted I don't like to assume that the standards for life on Earth are the same as the standards for life elsewhere, but since we don't have any other basis for comparison, that assumption will have to stand. Plus, if living things adapted easily to extreme cold and scarcity of liquid water, you'd expect the poles here to be host to a larger variety of life. A world only slightly more hospitable than Antarctica doesn't seem like the best place to find big fauna.

OT: Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841871)

Erotic is when you use a feather. Exotic is when you use the whole chicken.

Fight Club will never be the same.

Mars Gambling! (2, Funny)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841395)

All Right! Lets land a colony and start a casino! Hopefully we don't find anyone living under the Ice already! Of Course if we do, we'll invite them in on an all you can eat Sunday Buffet... As long as it isn't all the HUMANS YOU CAN EAT! :)

Re:Mars Gambling! (0, Troll)

riff420 (810435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841421)

I'm glad you didn't get modded 'Funny', because it's obvious you worked for it, but clearly don't deserve it.

Re:Mars Gambling! (3, Funny)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841875)

I used to read Slashdot and try to post seriously. For some reason, readership intelligence has dropped, so I'm forced to pander with comments like the above. I may have over reached for the funny, but I was stretching it for the people that didn't understand. Someday I may have all my comments archived into one volume and the collective works could be a best seller. But in the mean time, I'll just keep working for "Big Al" breaking kneecaps for a living. Oh, I'm sorry, I digressed... What was your complaint about?

Re:Mars Gambling! (1, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841511)

I've a better idea. Let's swap one of the glaciers for LA, and then open the casino on top of the Martian ice. It'll be closer, there's less risk of being considered edible delicacies and it'll solve most of the environmental problems in one go.

Re:Mars Gambling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841615)

groan

SciAm sucks (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841423)

(American Scientist is much better)

The original NASA press release is at

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/news/mro-20081120.html [nasa.gov]

Find life already damnit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841459)

Seriously, I'm getting sick of all these teasers. I just wish the scientific community would hurry up and announce that we've found life on mars.

Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841509)

All the nerd innuendo you will ever need.

Total Recall (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841529)

Since we're on the subject of Total Recall, and I the only one who noticed that Indiana Jones IV completely ripped their ending off Total Recall?

Re:Total Recall (4, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841709)

Since we're on the subject of Total Recall, and I the only one who noticed that Indiana Jones IV completely ripped their ending off Total Recall?

The better question is why haven't you had a memory block installed for IJ4 like the rest of us?

I know what we'll find there... (1)

molotovjester (1273662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841545)

A Frozen Throne, Frostmourn, and the Lich King.

Bring 'em to Earth (1)

ohxten (1248800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841547)

I say we bring 'em to planet Earth and tell Al Gore to find another argument.

Re:Bring 'em to Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841593)

Or we can send al gore to planet mars

Re:Bring 'em to Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841707)

Ok we don't need even more water on this planet. I think we're good. :P

Phoenix mission a waste? (5, Interesting)

Dr_Banzai (111657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841577)

I wonder if this discovery had been made a few months earlier if they would have altered the course of the Phoenix lander [wikipedia.org] to try to touch down on the glacier. Or is the crust on top of the glacier too thick for Phoenix to get through? This seems like a prime target for future missions to analyze the ice and look for signs of life.

I think we need to send Bruce Willis and a crack team of oil rig workers to do some drilling on Mars...

Re:Phoenix mission a waste? (2, Informative)

IHateEverybody (75727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842407)

Phoenix was designed to dig a few inches into the ground. The glaciers in the linked article are probably buried a lot deeper. It actually would be more realistic to send Bruce Willis and his oil drillers to Mars to dig for ice than it was to send them to the asteroid in that movie....

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25841581)

Now, about that air pressure problem...

Oh... (4, Funny)

baKanale (830108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841589)

...so that's where they [wikipedia.org] went? To mars?

hey (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841591)

we can put mammoths there

Conclusive Proof (1, Funny)

gaderael (1081429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841631)

We'll finally have conclusive proof that Spiders [wikipedia.org] originated from Mars.

Wow... all we need now (3, Funny)

bbroerman (715822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841677)

All we need now is an ancient reactor to melt the ice and produce a dense atmosphere...

Seriously, though, that movie did suck...

Opportunity Knocks (2, Interesting)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841909)

Sounds like we should be taking a new look at the "Mars Express" concept. This just screams for a direct look-see by real human beings. And we could really use a project that would kick-start a new wave of technological innovation.

Go figure. (2, Funny)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 5 years ago | (#25841915)

Gee, who would figure a massive surface object on Mars would be hidden under and obscured from study by... dust?

Now let's find that giant face, maybe the Raelians were right after all...

Is there life on Mars? (1, Funny)

Star Particle (1409451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842069)

It's a God awful small affair
But it's needed to breathe the air
The scientists all wanted to go
But the big wigs kept yelling "No!"
And while the journey did last a year
The cosmic rays could be quite severe
And while the trip was a sadd'ning bore
Going to Mars is no easy chore

Spaaaaaaace men
Fighting in their rocket
Oh man!
Look at those Martians go
It's the freakiest show
Is there life on Maaaaaaaaaaaaaars?

internet? (1)

sunshinekiller (1350005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842223)

Would there be internet, because i would get really bored.

bad news (2, Funny)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25842403)

$ ping www.google.ca
PING www.l.google.com (209.85.171.103) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from cg-in-f103.google.com (209.85.171.103): icmp_seq=1 ttl=242 time=1282654 ms
64 bytes from cg-in-f103.google.com (209.85.171.103): icmp_seq=6 ttl=242 time=1589264 ms
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