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Mars May Have Been 1/3 Ocean

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the blue-planet-red-planet dept.

Mars 118

coondoggie sends in a snippet from Network World, as is his wont: "It's possible that a huge ocean covered one-third of the surface of Mars some 3.5 billion years ago, a finding likely to reignite an old argument about that amount of water on the red planet, according to a new report. The study by the University of Colorado at Boulder is the first to integrate multiple data sets of river deltas, valley networks and topography from a cadre of NASA and European Space Agency orbiting missions of Mars dating back to 2001, the researchers claim." The National Geographic coverage of the news gives some air time to those doubtful that this study will prove definitive.

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maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (2, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574560)

They just proved they can bring back material from an asteroid. Let's see if they can duplicate the feat on Mars.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574596)

We don't know if the capsule from Hayabusa does contain material yet. Also note that a sample-return mission to Mars will be much more difficult than a sample-return mission to an asteroid. The gravity of an asteroid is negligible. But Mars has gravity that is around a third that of Earth. That's a lot. So a sampling robot would need to land on Mars and then return fighting against the large Martian gravity well. It would probably need to carry its fuel with it which means it would need to have a lot of mass to start with and which would make a safe landing even more difficult. We'll probably have successful sample-return from Mars before a human mission their but the technical difficulty with even a sample-return mission is immense.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (4, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574762)

    Escape velocity, fuel supply, navigation. People always bring up those pesky problems. Gimme a spaceship that runs on dilithium crystals that you can run a starship at multiples of the speed of light indefinitely (or at least until the episode plot calls for them to be used up).

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32575040)

Stupid Japanese chinks. They're almost as bad as niggers.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576188)

Or attach it to a really long leash.

[This post brought to you by the institute of cord spinners, rope braiders and string twisters]

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574990)

Update: it's been opened. It contains material. The report is due six months or so, so set a tickle.

Mars is easier than an asteroid. At Mars you have a planet to cancel your Delta-V with its gravity and atmosphere (limited though Mars' atmosphere is, it does help). Hitting an asteroid and returning is roughly twice as hard as hitting Mars and returning because you have to halt your motion at the asteroid using propulsion. It's a miracle Hyabusa returned at all - and it was three years late - because it missed its return window and had to wait for Earth to come back into position. The efforts of the ground team could be considered heroic - if some blood had been spilled.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (2, Funny)

takev (214836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575458)

Someone probably slashed their finger open on the inside of a computer case, dropping blood on the motherboard. So in all likelihood blood has been spilled by the ground crew.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576598)

That is how the Japanese are committing seppuku nowadays? How things have changed....

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (2, Insightful)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575622)

Getting to Mars is, in some was, easier than getting to an asteroid, because you can stop for free at Mars. Getting home again is much harder. There's no cheap way OFF Mars.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576138)

At least you can put most of your fuel in orbir around Mars. You only need enough on the craft to break orbit, which is still a fair amount, but nothing approaching the total load. Half the fuel typically used on a craft is there simply to lift the other half of the fuel.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (3, Informative)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576326)

Let's do the numbers.

The ascent stage (ie the Mars to Low Mars Orbit transport) needs about 4.1 km s^-1 of delta-V. About twice what you need from the Moon, but less than half what you need from Earth. The Mars orbit return vehicle, which doesn't need to land on Mars needs about 2.3 km s^-1 to get into a transfer orbit back to Earth. (figures from wikipedia).

This is definitely challenging, ascent stage most challenging of all. We need a rocket that can survive launch from Earth, 9 months coasting, aerocapture and aerobraking at Mars, impact with the Mars surface, a few months sitting on Mars and then take off with no support systems, deliver 4+kms^-1 of delta-V and automatically dock with the orbiting component of the system. The durability requirement pretty much rules out cryogenic fuels, and even relatively stable liquid fuels like kerosene/nitric acid might give trouble, both due to the cold conditions on Mars and the extra mass of tankage robust enough to survive the journey, so you're probably looking at solids.

A few quick checks reveal that good solid rockets have an ISP of maybe 265s, giving a mass ratio of perhaps 10 for Mars to Low Mars orbit, so we need an ascent stage roughly 90% of which is solid rocket propellant (or multiple ascent stages, adding complexity). Suppose we can get the payload capsule + docking system down to 10kg and our solid rocket motors are 95% propellant (5% nozzles and casing -- this might be optimistic) we get a mass of 200kg launching from Mars. This is actually less bad than I'd feared. Seems that a Viking sized lander could probably do it. A 1 ton or so lander includes a digging tool and maybe a mini-rover to collect 5kg of rock and load them into a 5kg capsule with some tiny thrusters on it. That sits on a 200kg solid fuel rocket that gets into Low Mars Orbit and drops the capsule, which docks with a similar sized vehicle with 100kg of solid fuel some batteries and electronics and a heat shield for Earth reentry.

So we need two launches to Mars transfer, each about 1 ton payload, plus heat shields for aero-braking/aero-capture on Mars. Should be doable as two medium large launches from Earth

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32579494)

What about setting some nano-replicators loose on Phobos and have them build a beanstalk down to Mars?

Oh, wait, what century is this?

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32578366)

Mars is easier than an asteroid. At Mars you have a planet to cancel your Delta-V with its gravity and atmosphere (limited though Mars' atmosphere is, it does help). Hitting an asteroid and returning is roughly twice as hard as hitting Mars and returning because you have to halt your motion at the asteroid using propulsion.

No, you are thinking linearly. Remember that asteroids have higher orbital energy, so they simply put Hayabusa on a constant-thrust spiral intercept trajectory, thanks to its ion engines. Since gravity is negligible, they only needed small delta-v's for station keeping around the asteroid when they got there. Then when they wanted to leave they just had to do the opposite, slowly bleed away the orbital energy.

You could do the same thing with Mars, but it's far more difficult because the landing craft will have to be a heck of a lot sturdier than the one that landed on the asteroid, plus it needs to be able to get back off the planet.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32580528)

Hmm... It requires energy to slow down the spacecraft. Which in the case of Mars goes up in heat in the bit of atmosphere, and stuff and heat propelled out in the case of manual breaking with trusters.
What if we, instead of throwing that energy away, could just transform it into something storable.
Then we could create at least a part of our fuel in-place, wouldn’t have to carry it all the way, and kill two birds with one stone.

I think it’s worth pursuing that idea. Especially for missions to somewhere where there is no large planet/atmosphere to break. Or where the planet is too large to carry all the fuel there.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (2, Interesting)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575094)

You could, in theory, work around these issues in different ways. You could include fuel containers in the payload with parachutes - if we can give the robot some way to find them it can navigate to and attach them when ready. You could also send multiple rockets, some with fuel and one for the robot, but having them find eachother would be more challenging and landing areas would be much more prone to error in the proximity.

Still, it isn't impossible.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575128)

One plan for Mars sample return I read about involves automatic docking in low Mars orbit. One stage lands and a rover loads it up with material. An ascent stage (really just a missile) lifts off for low orbit. It docks with an orbiter which has enough juice to return to Earth.

All in all it is probably more productive to send better surface labs.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576432)

Good plan

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575810)

On Mars there isn't much of an atmosphere so parachutes wouldn't work.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (2, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575964)

Oh?

Then why have parachutes been deployed on virtually every successful Mars landing?

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32576232)

Different definition of wouldn't work.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576062)

Go tell that to all the landers that used them to slow down their descent.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (0, Troll)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575150)

Duh dude.

You just said Mars' gravity was only one third of Earth's, so considering it already left Earth's atmosphere, why would the probe have a problem with a one-third-puss-gravity well?

Seriously, bro, THINK!

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576214)

The probe leaved earth's gravity using a rocket.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

jplopez (1067608) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575650)

Moon has gravity that is around a sixth of Earth, and the Eagle module managed to lift off with its more than 10K pounds and 2 men on board. Would it be that hard to bring back a couple kg. of rocks down here?

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32579586)

As other posters have alluded to, it's definitely possible.

However, any references to the eagle module require references to the Saturn V. We can't put another lander on the moon of that size (and bring it back) with the rockets we currently have.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576370)

Problems are incentives for creative engineers find a solution.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

CecilPL (1258010) | more than 4 years ago | (#32579350)

But Mars has gravity that is around a third that of Earth. That's a lot. So a sampling robot would need to land on Mars and then return fighting against the large Martian gravity well. It would probably need to carry its fuel with it which means it would need to have a lot of mass to start with and which would make a safe landing even more difficult. We'll probably have successful sample-return from Mars before a human mission their but the technical difficulty with even a sample-return mission is immense.

It's not really that much. Delta-V from the surface of Mars to Earth return trajectory is ~8km/sec, which is about double the delta-V from the lunar surface to Earth orbit. Consider the size of the Apollo lander - and that had people in it!

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32580404)

It does not have to land with the fuel mass. It only has to land with enough mass to get back to orbit. There it can dock to the fuel that brings it back to earth. Like with the mars landings. If you optimize to the sweet spot, you can save a lot.

Re:maybe it's time to enlist the Japanese (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32580864)

... but the technical difficulty with even a sample-return mission is immense.

Don't make more of it than it is. The energy budget is immense, but it is well within our technological capabilities. Congress is just choosing to spend money elsewhere.

We'll Never Know (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574576)

The National Geographic coverage of the news gives some air time to those doubtful that this study will prove definitive.

3.5 billion years ago is too long ago for us to ever *know* definitively. We won't get to Mars for decades and it would be decades after that before any real "hands on" research could even bring us closer to a "definitive" answer (which will still inly be a best guess).

Re:We'll Never Know (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574594)

The National Geographic coverage of the news gives some air time to those doubtful that this study will prove definitive.

3.5 billion years ago is too long ago for us to ever *know* definitively. We won't get to Mars for decades and it would be decades after that before any real "hands on" research could even bring us closer to a "definitive" answer (which will still inly be a best guess).

Are you a geologist?

Re:We'll Never Know (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32574686)

No, but I play one on television.

Re:We'll Never Know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32574730)

Nope, I stayed at a Holiday Inn express last night.

Re:We'll Never Know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32578208)

"So, you say you found the bloody glove on the ground. Tell me, do you have any formal training in geology?"

Re:We'll Never Know (2, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574636)

It's going to take us decades to figure out what happened billions of years ago? I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty quick to me.

And the inhabitants actually WERE green (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32574644)

...but not little. They were actually taller than we were. And had four arms.

This guy:

Edgar Rice Burroughs [wikipedia.org]

can tell you all about them.

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574664)

Nah, we could date it really easily. There's radioactive carbon dating. Oh, won't work. Well, you can look at the sedimentation layers. Oh, won't work. Well, there's always guesswork. :)

    Really, the dating itself isn't as important as if water was or was not there.

    I'm still biased towards the idea that there was and still is water there. Well, as NASA said [rense.com] , "The way the surface has responded is bizarre. I don't understand it. I don't know anybody on my team who understands it. It looks like mud, but it can't be mud."

    If it looks like mud, and acts like mud, it must be a new state of solid that isn't mud. :) Or it's just dirt and water, despite how they [freeinternetpress.com] may describe it [freeinternetpress.com] .

    It's very likely there is an awful lot of water there. As the climate cycles slowed, the water became more stagnant, ending up in rather comfortable resting spots like the ice caps and muddy plains.

Re:We'll Never Know (2, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574940)

There's radioactive carbon dating. Oh, won't work. Well, you can look at the sedimentation layers. Oh, won't work. Well, there's always guesswork.

Carbon dating and sedimentation layer examination are both guesswork. Educated guesswork, possibly even accurate guesswork, but guesswork nonetheless.

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575020)

    It's fairly educated guesswork though.

    On Earth, we can compare it to known (or estimated) things. The reason I said it wouldn't work on Mars would be, we know nothing about it's history. If (big if) we did find something resembling life, we wouldn't have any way to establish when it happened. Well, we may be able to eventually, but it will be building a timeline from scratch, rather than having centuries of data to work with.

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575630)

We know something about the cratering history -- for instance if one crater is partly on top of another, we know it formed later, and the extent of "weathering" may give us further information. We can also compare it with the much studied cratering history of the Moon.

Re:We'll Never Know (2, Informative)

polymeris (902231) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575070)

Nah, we could date it really easily. There's radioactive carbon dating. Oh, won't work. Well, you can look at the sedimentation layers. Oh, won't work. Well, there's always guesswork. :)

There are other radiometric dating methods besids carbon-14, specially for things that old. One of them is rubidium-strontium (50 billion yeras half life?). It works on inorganic stuff too, although i don't know if it works for martian inorganic stuff, but I'm sure one could adapt it.

Really, the dating itself isn't as important as if water was or was not there.

I agree.

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576262)

There's radioactive carbon dating. Oh, won't work.

I'm curious why you say that. RC dating works because theres a certain believed fixed ratio of carbon isotopes in the air and general environment, and once something dies and is buried the active isotopes start decaying into the stable isotopes. The active isotopes come from cosmic rays and are very optimistically believed to be constant and/or have been correlated on earth with sedimentation and other data.

Works just fine with inorganic samples. Crush the heck out of some martian rocks and the trapped atmosphere, conveniently mostly carbon containing CO2, and you'll know how long those little bubbles of atmosphere have been trapped in the rock.

RC dating only works over a certain date range because eventually "almost all" the isotopes have decayed. So, simply try a different atom. Stuff that contains unstable isotopes that crystalizes into chemically pure crystals is pretty convenient because you know it was 100% pure at one time and now is X% decayed whatever.

Well maybe we should just give up then (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575050)

Let us claim our place among the fossils with pride, that we did not stoop to such foolishness before the inevitable asteroid took us.

Re:Well maybe we should just give up then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32576118)

I think we should club together as a planet to fund a giant space laser to write a message across the face of the moon saying "You are not alone ->" and bury a space capsule at the point with data on the entirety of life on Earth. Then we can die out as a race safe in the knowledge that we've done our bit.

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576802)

3.5 billion years ago is too long ago for us to ever *know* definitively. We won't get to Mars for decades and it would be decades after that before any real "hands on" research could even bring us closer to a "definitive" answer (which will still inly be a best guess).

Actually, I *know* because I was there. I'm just over 4 billion years old. Mars was one-third water. We didn't realize that it wasn't enough to support life, as we consumed most of it watering our Martian golf courses. (Which happen to be much larger than earth courses.)

Once we lost most of the potable water to golf, we started harvesting the oceans. It never seemed a problem, as water was viewed as an "unlimited" and "cheap" resource.

Well, it turns out if you kill the ocean you kill the planet. Oops. So then we decided to colonize a nearby planet that looked like it was about 2/3 water. It's been going well so far, though the natives occasionally screw things up.

Re:We'll Never Know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32577830)

So then we decided to colonize a nearby planet that looked like it was about 2/3 water. It's been going well so far, though the natives occasionally screw things up.

This citizen is a heretic and an apostate, and should be strung up by his gelsacs and spun about until they form a double helix.
- K'Breel

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32579764)

H. Beam Piper (or his estate, rather) is going to want his money for poaching his idea. Refuse to pay, and you will end up like Benjamin Bathurst or Calvin Morrison.

BTW, water used on golf courses automatically recycles (unless you crack the water and use the hydrogen for fusion). Piper's Martian colonists used up Mars in more realistic ways.

Re:We'll Never Know (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 4 years ago | (#32577652)

We won't get to Mars for decades

Huh? We've been to Mars several times in the past decade already - we are still there if being in orbit counts as being 'there'.

What happened? (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574588)

Italians stole the water.

Always curious about where the water went (3, Informative)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574602)

So I finally looked it up. Interesting. http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/mars151.php [arizona.edu]

Re:Always curious about where the water went (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32574728)

It is all underground, frozen and waiting for someone to turn the melting reactor on.

Re:Always curious about where the water went (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574792)

    It'll be easier to turn it on, with all the mutants with multiple arms (and breasts). And as an added bonus, there'll be some amazingly talented 4 handed piano players.

Re:Always curious about where the water went (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576434)

Looks like the Martians must have engineered this quite recently:

"Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons change huge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodically inundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion, which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars."

- HG Wells, _The War of the Worlds_ [1898]

Another theory where it went... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32577528)

Mars did indeed once have a large ocean.

It also once had a highly elliptical orbit which crossed Earth's orbit.

Earth's Moon is believed to have been created by a collision between Earth and a Mars-sized planetary body, which caused a large ejection of rocky mass that coalesced into the new satellite in a relatively close circular orbit.

Mars was actually the colliding planetary body.

The collision knocked Mars into what has become it's current, more circular orbit and also during the impact, Mars' ocean water was also cast off into space where it froze into ice crystals that were eventually captured by Earth's gravity and the ice orbited for a astronomically long time before the orbit finally decayed and the ice fell into the Earth's atmosphere where it melted on entry and rained a huge amount on a planet-wide scale for a long time. This rain was the "Great Deluge" or "Noah's Flood" or whatever you'd want to call it.

In the end, the answer to "Where did Mars' ocean go?" is that most of it is now in our oceans.

Not funny (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574706)

We can be like them in 100 years, assuming we get some nuclear bombs going.

Re:Not funny (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574788)

We'd need tons upon tons of nuclear weapons to practically do that though. Earth has an atmosphere where mars does not, evaporating water doesn't go into nothingness but rather back into the atmosphere. Sure if you nuclear-ly fuse H2O into heavier elements it could work, but its way more bombs than would ever be practical to use.

Re:Not funny (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574810)

    You never know until you try. Either way, we'll be able to bask in the glow of our new radioactive neighbor for generations. :)

Re:Not funny (4, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574844)

Earth has an atmosphere where mars does not

Mars has an atmosphere, not much of one to be sure, but it does have one. Why else do you think so many landers used parachutes to help slow their descent?

Re:Not funny (2, Funny)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575168)

Those were lovechutes; the good energies radiating from Mother Mars slowed the descent.

If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (-1, Flamebait)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574824)

Then how can we know that Mars is 3.5 billion years old?

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (2, Funny)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574850)

Because it was retroactively made 3.5 billion years old 6000 years ago. Oh ye of little faith.

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575072)

Nah it's just a new virtual instance copied and modified slightly yesterday and God just clicked on the "Start Virtual Universe" button only a few seconds ago.

So is it 3.5 billion years old or a day old or a few seconds old? :).

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575132)

But, when was the Big Boot?

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32577996)

While this line of thinking always makes me chuckle, even if it were true it doesn't matter at all. Yeah, I get your joke.

But seriously, so what that the Universe was made 6000 years ago if it acts like it was made 13.75 billion years ago (not 3.5, duh)?

The arbitrary "young" age of our "old" Universe, namely 6000 years or WTH other number someone posits, has zero value. It does not let us predict anything, it matches no observations, it's merely an idol. The age of Universe as currently estimated by scientific method lets us predict things about said Universe -- it's not merely an idol, it has real uses and can be verified and further corrected as our knowledge expands.

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32578086)

I guess I forgot to add that obviously it's all about how good a theory is, and a theory is only as good as its predictive power. I have zero problems with even the most "crackpot" theories (time cube, anyone? [slashdot.org] ), as long as they would be of some use. But the problem is that crackpot theories (including young Earth) are absolutely useless: they predict nothing, they are merely shrines for grandstanding. The people who propose many of those theories somehow expect "serious" scientists to take their work and put it to use: they missed the crux of the matter here -- it's their job to show that a theory is of some use first...

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32578104)

Sorry, I just realized your 3.5by was in reference to Earth's age estimate, not that for Universe.

Re:If the earth is only 6,000 years old... (1)

kstahmer (134975) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576896)

The Earth is 6,000 years old, flat, in the center of the Universe and is orbited by the Sun, Moon, planets & stars. Ptolemy is right, Copernicus wrong. Dinosaurs are a lie, fossils are a lie, evolution is a lie, paleoanthropology is a lie, evolutionary genetics is a lie, carbon-14 dating is a lie, continental drift is a lie and geologic deep time is a lie. Young Earth Creationists are right; Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel and James Hutton wrong. With all that acceptance and suspension of belief, why is it so difficult to believe that Mars is at least 3.5 billion years old? When scientific observation & experiment and deductive reasoning are thrown out the window, anything is possible. An infinite number of angels can dance on a head of a pin.

Intelligent life (2, Funny)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574840)

OK, the ocean has been established. Maybe we can go and look for oil pollution to see if there was intelligent life on mars already?

Re:Intelligent life (3, Insightful)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575092)

What sort of intelligent life would cause oil pollution?

Re:Intelligent life (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576076)

Nobody's perfect. Sometimes you forget your car keys, sunglasses... Sometimes you set fire to an oil rig. Such is intelligent life.

Re:Intelligent life (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576162)

What if they're intelligent oil eating creatures, who just run out of "food"?

Re:Intelligent life (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576304)

What if they're intelligent oil eating creatures, who just run out of "food"?

Isn't that basically modern western civilization right about now, aka peak oil?

Re:Intelligent life (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576142)

I think he meant sentient life. The two don't always go together, as our species is apt to demonstrate.

Re:Intelligent life (1)

wesborgmandvm (893569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32578534)

Clearly the global warming from the use of fossil fuels caused the ocean to evaporate.

Once upon a time... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32574868)

Philip K. Dick wrote several short stories about how we lived on Mars and didn't remember to reduce, reuse, recycle, curb our species appetites for violence (war) and sex (overpopulation). So we burned up the oceans when it all went kaboom!. But not before we sent people to live on Earth...

Now there are "billions and billions" of us. (sigh)

Re:Once upon a time... (-1, Troll)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574936)

And that proves what? That you get emo when you read his stories? Or are you going to claim these stories are something other than pure fiction?

Philip K. Dick was a Dick (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32576256)

'nuff said.

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576340)

curb our species appetites for .... sex (overpopulation)

We've got great technological solutions for that particular problem, its just the religious lunatics don't like it. Need to go to the root cause, not just list a symptom, which in that case would be religious lunacy. And pretty much all major world religions, except Buddhism, glorify warfare and demonize the victims, so the loons get some blame there too. And pretty much all major world religions glorify the opposite of "reduce", obviously thats how they got to be major world religions instead of some ancient dead sect that no one will remember (think of heavens gate in comparison to the judeo-christian order to go forth and multiply)

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576566)

See also Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 4 years ago | (#32579792)

epic book. Mod parent up.

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32577514)

Since my previous reply was modded down for some reason, maybe my explanation needs to be clearer for the moderators. Phillip K Dick is fiction. Sure there is some tenuous basis in reality, but ultimately it makes no sense to get depressed simply because you read a few very speculative (and wrong, I might add) stories about an imaginary human past. Remember that Dick could bend reality to enforce whatever point of morality he chose to make. He is shoehorning his world and characters into whatever belief systems he happens to believe in and moods he happens to be in on that day.

Someone makes a grave, preventable mistake that everyone knew was going to happen? Well, that's some basis for feeling down. Something in a Slashdot article reminds you vaguely of a bunch of really depressing stories you read once? No basis for feeling down.

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32580276)

Are you certain that you did not mean H. Beam Piper? Most of his stories are set in a Multiverse built around different probability worlds keeping or losing Martian technology to different extents, then diverging. One time line kept all of the Martian tech, then developed the ability to cross to other lines before completely ruining their Earth, which is how the stories mesh together.

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32581522)

Yeah, billions and billions of hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants...

Apologies to Douglas Adams.

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32581740)

The part about a spacefaring society completely forgetting that it has the ability to make anything more complicated than stone axes is the part that i can't suspend disbelief of.

Also (-1, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32574980)

Yo mama could have been pretty.

Mod Parent UP!!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32575096)

Mod Parent UP!!!

I will not believe it (-1, Offtopic)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575042)

until I hear it from Oprah.

Related TED talk (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32575342)

One of the recent TED talks about returning to Mars mentioned this.

In http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/joel_levine.html (16 minute video) Joel Levine describes how

* We've found plumes of methane in the Mars atmosphere above some of the coastal and structures mentioned in this article
* On Earth, over 99.9% of methane is produced by living systems
* Our next mars mission should not be a lander, but a robotic aerial flyer that can give more precise measurements of methane and other gasses along with improved ground images
* Results from such a mission could be used to pinpoint with much higher confidence an appropriate location to send a followup lander for sample collection

Re:Related TED talk (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32579186)

Well the Mars Science Lab (another rover) has been in the works for a while, so that's still a go. Then, sticking to the lander-orbiter-lander-orbiter schedule, the MAVEN orbiter is next. Both are equipped to provide some detail on the methane, but now NASA actually wants to send a dedicated orbiter [wikipedia.org] for that.

Also of interest, there are several mission proposals summarized here [wikipedia.org] . Two of them are UAV missions, including KittyHawk (a proposal that has lost several times, first proposed for a mission in 2003 for the centennial of the Wright Brothers' first flight) and ARES [nasa.gov] (how original!).

Throxeus (1)

dugeen (1224138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575692)

Where mighty Throxeus once rolled, now there is only the ochre moss of the dead sea bottom. Oh bugger my flyer's crashing AGAIN, I really am going to speak to the maintenance guys when I eventually fight my way back to Helium

Re:Throxeus (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575898)

Where mighty Throxeus once rolled, now there is only the ochre moss of the dead sea bottom. Oh bugger my flyer's crashing AGAIN, I really am going to speak to the maintenance guys when I eventually fight my way back to Helium

Is it only me that read that in an oddly high pitched voice?

other findings Linked to Mars Oceans..... (1)

nerdpocalypse (1807180) | more than 4 years ago | (#32575906)

and they've found evidence of a deep water drilling that seems to have occurred about the time when the water started decreasing......

First po5t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32576224)

How is the GNAA of business and was Been sitting here NIGGER community

mod d0Wn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32576254)

Usenet posts. by the politickers First avoid going would take about 2 and shouting that some intelligent achieve any of the Usenet. In 1995, I see the same to say there have Argued by Eric fanatic known bureaucratic and First avoid going BSD's filesystem this post up. asshole about.' One rapid, project faces a set users. BSD/OS downward spiral. people's faces at Pro-homosexual And Juliet 40,000 study. [rice.edu] bulk of the FrreBSD ASSOCIATION OF WON'T BE SHOUTING HAVE AN IRC CLIENT bought the farm... May disturb other These early the last night of a GAY NIIGER development. BSD conducted at MIT exploited that. A Wash off hands platform for the worthwhile. It's lubrication. You (Click Here RAM) for about 20 fly...don't fear We'll be able to First, you have to those obligations.

It's possible... (1)

ElusiveJoe (1716808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32576748)

...that Mars was covered by a chocolate ocean with marshmallow fish in it.Where do I collect money for my research?

Re:It's possible... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32577314)

Why do you think that coming up with the wacky idea is the valuable part? The valuable part is writing a reasonable sounding grant proposal based on the wacky idea.

Am I the only one who's thought this.. (1)

holytorture (1192745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32577640)

Maybe the earth and mars were one planet(AKA "Pangea") about 3.5 billion years ago when a giant asteroid(AKA the moon) hit "Pangea" and knocked the mars part back. Thus our continents started shifting again, and the dinosaurs could no longer survive with a smaller planet. It would then make sense that America accidentally gave New Zeland a chunk of fossilized wood brought back from the moon. It could also explain our planet's weird rotation and why the moon doesn't rotate while it orbits us.

Re:Are you the only one who's thought this.. (1)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32578392)

Yes.

It's hee-eeere (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32581732)

If there was that much water on Mars, and now it's not, then it likely went out into space with the solar wind. Which means some of it will have fallen to Earth.

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