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The Mystery of Mars' Bizarre Plumbing

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the who-built-this-place-anyway dept.

Mars 62

astroengine writes "Hesperia Planum: once a Martian plain — a regular, no-surprises, run-of-the-mill plain. But now, thanks to researchers who used high-resolution imagery from the armada of satellites currently orbiting the Red Planet, Hesperia Planum holds a mystery. Sinuous rilles, a common feature in ancient volcanic regions on Mars and the Moon, appear across Hesperia, but they appear to have no origin and no destination. If they were formed by lava flows, wouldn't they originate near volcanoes? This oddity has led Tracy Gregg and her student Carolyn Roberts of the University at Buffalo to postulate an entirely different rille formation process that could make Hesperia Planum a whole lot more interesting than scientists ever thought."

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62 comments

Everyone knows the answer ... (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37715836)

Giant Sand Worms.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37715862)

Done in one.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37715942)

Giant Sand Worms.

Yeah, I thought of Shai-Hulud too.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716026)

I control the spice, I control THE UNIVERSE!

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716316)

I control the spice, I control THE UNIVERSE!

Dude, pass the bong already. :-P

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 2 years ago | (#37718106)

so, that's what happend to the slashdot crowd... i thought i was just me ;P

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37721526)

He wont be sharing his spice, like, man. You'll like, you know, have to get your own if you want to take hits....man.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716890)

Excuse me? I control the spice. See my username.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717412)

For some reason your username makes me think of a Dune/Life of Brian crossover.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717456)

Every spice grain is sacred.....

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717966)

    Every grain is great ...

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37718260)

When a grain gets wasted,
The Navigators get quite irate.

Every grain is lovely,
Turning eyes all blue,
People still will eat it
Even though it's sandworm poo.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37718828)

He's not the Kwisatz Haderach, he's a very naughty boy.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37721884)

He is not the Mahdl-T
Get back in your orthodontothopter out-freekt.
Arruckus-- men call it Doon, the Dessert Planet. Its a sugar covered wasteland devoid entirely of entrees, Patrolled by a terrifying species of giant pretzel.
I control the beer.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719162)

Please forgive me.

Dunecat [lolcats.com]

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

monzie (729782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716524)

Giant Sand Worms.

Like the ones shown in the movie "Tremors" ?

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

misterooga (1172837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716680)

No, more like in 'Dune.'

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (3, Insightful)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716916)

My life story.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (2)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716976)

I hope you don't get sent to mod prison for this.

With that UID you've waited a long time for a sand worm story, and you should be given the latitude to have fun with it.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

stinkydog (191778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716656)

Close, in my new paper I out the real cause, Prehistoric Intelligent Interplanetary Sand Kracken. How could it be anything else?

SD

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37717370)

We'll know once the higher resolution images come out. If they're lined with Land Shark vertebrae, then it was Sand Kracken.

Re:Everyone knows the answer ... (1)

einstein4pres (226130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717098)

Crap, I've been going all the way to Arrakis for my spice. Those blue-eyed pilots must have been laughing all the way to the bank.

Canals are back! (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 2 years ago | (#37715948)

Hooray! Percival Lowell was right! These were canals created by an advanced martian civilization!!! Life? PROVEN!!!

In other news, Space Makes Geology Fun Again!

Re:Canals are back! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716000)

Trenches, not canals. Mars' First World War was also their last.

Re:Canals are back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716554)

Damn it. It's going to take us at least three.

The Waters of Mars (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37715972)

I blame the ice warriors....

Litter box? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716052)

I see the same thing after scooping the kitty litter... Giant Space Kitties, perhaps?

XCOM: (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716082)

Sectoids did it.

Re:XCOM: (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716376)

Sectoids are just flunkies and puppets. We all know the real threat are the Ethereals.

Whose bases are all underground. Probably interconnected by tunnels.

NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE!

Re:XCOM: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719066)

What threat? Schlooo-doof-doof-doof-doof-doof-BOOM. Rinse. Repeat. Wait. No. OH DEAR GOD WHAT ARE Y-

Re:XCOM: (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716510)

Sectoids are fine, but those little Chrysalid bastards...

Re:XCOM: (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717510)

Yeah seriously, they will straight up murder your face. Then procreate in it, then use your husk of a corpse as a weapon against your naive friends until it reaches adulthood. Rinse, repeat.

Re:XCOM: (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720506)

Yeah seriously, they will straight up murder your face. Then procreate in it, then use your husk of a corpse as a weapon against your naive friends until it reaches adulthood. Rinse, repeat.

Hey... bob, are you ok? You've been looking a little... weird... since that Chrysalid touched you...

Shield Volcanos? (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716108)

I don't know much about the geology, but could it possibly be the result of a shield volcano?

Re:Shield Volcanos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716166)

Not geology, areology.

Re:Shield Volcanos? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716502)

I think you only managed to emphasize my point there.

Re:Shield Volcanos? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37718730)

Areology? Seems a rather oddly specialized subset of boobology.

Re:Shield Volcanos? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716192)

This is slashdot, martian nuclear holocaust ftw.

Re:Shield Volcanos? (4, Interesting)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716500)

I don't know much about the geology, but could it possibly be the result of a shield volcano?

That's basically the current/default understanding - the rilles were created from subsurface flows of lava that left empty lava tubes, which collapsed leaving the rilles behind. Similar to what you see, on a much smaller scale, in places like Lava Beds on the Modoc plateau in Northern California.

This study points out that some of the rilles don't appear to really be starting or ending at identifiable volcanic vents/craters, and so they are questioning whether they are actually the result of volcanic activity. If you take a look at this photo [geosociety.org] , you can sort of see what they mean. The feature pointed out with the arrows looks a lot more like a stream bed than it does a collapsed lava tube. It is hard to really form a strong opinion from the photo, though; it is difficult to tell if the feature is actually following topography like a gravity flow.

Re:Shield Volcanos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716986)

i see lots of craters in that photo. is it not possible that perhaps a group of meteorites hit that area at roughly the same time, releasing wator vapor into the air, then the vapor condensed to form localized rain?

Re:Shield Volcanos? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719706)

The image you linked looks surprising like what I imagine this one would look like viewed from above...

http://www.earth-tours.com/wp-content/uploads/fountain-reflection1.jpg [earth-tours.com]

Another view of a different area...

http://photos.igougo.com/images/p90151-Yellowstone_National_Park-Mammoth_Hot_Springs.jpg [igougo.com]

Now I realize that both of those images are of formations created by living organisms, and I am not suggesting that is the case on Mars, but perhaps there is some other process that is creating similar features on a much grander scale. To be honest, what is being called crevices or channels appears to me to be terraces, descending from left to right in the image, that have both volcanic explosive-event craters as well as impact craters (perhaps the result of "lava-bombs") interspersed among the terraces. Some of these craters appear to have formed "dikes" around them that are higher then the surrounding terrain--the remains of previous ejecta rings that have since accumulated additional materials from water deposits?

In short, my eyes are interpreting the image entirely different for one reason--I have no data on elevation in the image you linked, but I DO have shadow references.

The "creekbed" that is noted in the image you linked could be a later formation, perhaps a final "draining of the pool"?

Band name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716150)

Finally I have a name for my new hipster band: Sinuous Rilles!

Everyone does know the answer (1)

bofh69 (22591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716152)

Canals.

Re:Everyone does know the answer (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716570)

Wrong! it was caused by the mighty herds of Buggalo from Wong Ranch.

Canali (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716162)

FTFA: "The question I have is what made the channels,"; said Gregg. Was it water, lava, or something else? "

It's like deja-vu all over again. Makes you wonder what deep discoveries await behind this channel notation... not to mention how long it will take us to generate enough political will to invest what it takes to find out.

Hoagland Celebrates! (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716270)

He can now squeeze a few more months of life out of his insane Mars conspiracy theories.

How insane, you ask?

Try this: Buck Rogers View-Master Reels [enterprisemission.com] .

That's some mighty good crackpottery, right there!

Dust to dust... (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716446)

So- from what I understand- they don't see the source of the lava to cause the rilles so they think water created them.

Maybe- or maybe all that remains is where the rilles were deepest- and the shallower parts have been filled in by dust.

Or... if it's formed from subterranean lava tunnels that collapsed as postulated... maybe the rest of the tunnel- the part that connects it to the volcano hasn't collapsed.

Re:Dust to dust... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37716586)

Or the volcano itself has eroded away.

Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716542)

My bet is that Mars was "destroyed" by something. At least it's ability to support life. Maybe whatever asteroid hit earth 65 million years ago was part of a chain that hit mars and caused all the water to vaporize. Or maybe even something more spectacular like another planet between Earth and Jupiter blowing up, with mars being caught in the middle, and all the evidence we have left is the asteroid belt.

As they said in the article, it appears to be the border of two different geological periods
--
"Everybody assumed these were huge lava flows," said Gregg. "But if it turns out to be a lake deposit, it's a very different picture of what Mars was doing at that time." It would also make Hesperia Planum a good place to look for life, because water plus volcanic heat and minerals is widely believed to be a winning combination for getting life started.
--

So maybe there is life... or was. Won't be able to tell until we get people there to start looking for fossils. We need a new "Wild West" frontier, everyone go to Mars.

re: Sinuous Rilles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716600)

Wasn't he a character in Harry Potter?

Thought this was.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716828)

I read the title as "Mystery of Man's Bizarre Plumbing" and thought it was some bizarre feminist screed.

Electric universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37716910)

Time Cube (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717290)

www.timecube.com

Barsoom shall rise again (1)

SengirV (203400) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717174)

So say I

Martian punctuation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37717338)

"The Mystery of Mars' Bizarre Plumbing"

Mars's. It's Mars's. That's how you spell and pronounce it. "Mars" is not plural, so Mars' makes no sense.

Re:Martian punctuation (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37718000)

Actually the Chicago Manual of style allows this as an alternative spelling when using the possessive on a noun ending with an s. It's uncommon but not invalid.

Re:Martian punctuation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719154)

And the little book (S&W) makes note of it (restricted to ancient proper names), and more or less says it's stupid but acceptable, and recommends wording around it where feasible, as "The Mystery of the Bizarre Plumbing of Mars"

You think these are canals? (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37717556)

... Nope! Chuck Testa.

Why the teaser? (1)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37718982)

Why is this lead piece written as a teaser instead of giving us the punch line? This is at odds with most Slashdot leads. I hope this doesn't catch on as it has for abstracts for technical papers.

Plate tectonics? (1)

Killer Instinct (851436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719538)

Plate Tectonics [wikipedia.org] possibly, could be lots of smaller ones on mars. In the pic [geosociety.org] though, it almost looks like the line with the arrows, starts at one crater and ends at another crater. Almost as if something (or someone) landed in a crater for shelter and tunneled to another one...have we been there already?

Where's my tinhat,...

For no reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720400)

Why does there have to be a reason for them? Can't they just be rilles for rilles' sake?

Any comment from the Martian High Council? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722202)

Martian news junkies are awaiting word from K'breel, Speaker for the Council. I suppose it's possible Mars has no reporters left with intact gelsacs, though.

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