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Recent Evidence Of Water On Mars Near Equator

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the colonize-now dept.

Space 133

mkasei writes "SpaceRef has an early press release with image from Brown University which reports evidence of recent liquid water near the surface of mars. What's important about this find is that it is near the equator making it more readily accessable for a mission, be it robotic or manned." Update: 07/25 09:49 PM by M : There's also a BBC story about water on Mars as well, and a brief Nature article about the possibility of water on Callisto.

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Re:Why is it always water? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193091)

there have been some planetary scientists who speculate that the features seen by Malin (Science, 30 June, 2000) could have been formed by no water at all (dry debris flows) or by debris flows fluidized by carbon dioxide. sorry no references off the top of my head. i'll look them up and post them later.

Re:...as recently as 100,000 years? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193092)

Evidence of water on the surface 100000 years ago makes it very likely that there's water elsewhere (eg, a bit deeper than the surface) still. Like you said, it's short in a geologic sense -- it's almost impossible for there to have been water 100000 years ago and have it all gone by today.

Re:...as recently as 100,000 years? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193093)

i think the major interest in the recent equatorial water is its implication for (near) modern life-supporting habitats. makes the existence of martian life (perhaps even extant life) look more promising.

Just as predicted... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193094)

Dan Quayle was right! Remember when he said that there were canals on Mars, filled with water? And that they were probably used to irrigate "potatoe" fields?

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193095)

my reading of the press release is that the brown u. researchers are claiming cyclicity in the martian climate. this climate would allow conditions ca. 100 ka ago that allowed ice to be stable. also, i would need to think a bit more about this, but i would imagine that the soil and dust mantle could have a stabilizing effect on the ice, making it possible for it to not immediately sublimate, even at pressures and temperatures outside of the stable p-t field for solid and liquid water.

Water water everywere and not a drop to drink. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193096)

If you jump over to the BBC there reporting something like enough water to cover the planet upto 25 centimeters. It's all trapped in ice just a few meters below the surface. I guess we really won't know until Odyssey reaches the planet to scan it with THEMIS [nasa.gov]

nasa selling *.mars tld (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2193097)

In related news, NASA has also released an offer to bargain with commercial entitities who may wish to deal in the MARS TLD. ICANN, logically, has contested this.

Re:In Other News... (1)

shogun (657) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193098)

That must be some pretty good imagery they have considering almost the entire planet is rust coloured anyway...

Re:Does it help us or does it not (1)

shogun (657) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193099)

Its the short sightedness of people like you that is dooming the human race.

Re:Constraints Exceed Current Technology (3)

shogun (657) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193100)

You haven't been paying much attention to the latest on in-situ propellent production that has been pushed by Zubrin. Basicly you only carry the fuel required to get you to the destination and when you are there you start a small chemical plant that creates the required return propellant out of chemicals present in the martian atmosphere. It is a proven process however its the kind simple and elegant solutions that don't seem to sit to well with today's NASA.

I know where it came from! (1)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193102)

Looks like the remnants of the ice comet Brennan sent crashing into Mars to me!

I'm glad we don't have to worry about those dangerous Martians anymore...

(For those who don't get the reference, read Protector, by Larry Niven)



--

Re:I'm a space geek, but... (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193105)

Most current Mars missions are being sent at about one-quarter to one-half the price of a single shuttle launch. A manned mission is another story, but all the current unmanned Mars missions are amazingly, incredibly cheap.

Something liquid is visible on Mars (1)

IowaBoy (14068) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193106)

If there's no liquid on the surface of Mars, water or otherwise, then what is this stuff? [usgs.gov] . People examining the high-res surface pictures coming back from Global Surveyor have found literally hundreds of "stains" that sure look like current or recent liquid flows. And suprise!, they are clustered around the equator [qwest.net] in an area of upthrust called the Tharsis Rise.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

The_Sock (17010) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193107)

Actually, there are 3 bills up that claim will "blast open the closed door to a national space economy".

Private investment may allow things to happen faster then you think. Read up at
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=378 [spaceref.com]

As opposed to... (3)

Wee (17189) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193109)

...carbon dioxide ice or methane ice or ammonia ice or some such. They mean frozen water. One or molecules composed of 2 hydrogens and one oxygen which fall some place on the left-ish side of this graph [sbu.ac.uk] .

After all, ice doesn't necessarily have to be water.

-B

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193110)

Dude I don't know where you've been, but a lot has happened since 1975.

'Course, nothing on the scale of Kennedy's aspirations, if you're thinking of national efforts.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193111)

This article neglects the abuses of the National railroad act that were to follow.

In essence it is a confirmation that corporations must occasionally be sanctioned as a matter of necessity.

Re:Um, liquid H20... White Mars (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193112)

What a stupid, unscientific, web-site.

It ignores much when it is convenient to its lousy hole-ridden theories.

Shame on you.

Re:Constraints Exceed Current Technology (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193113)

oh man, that'll piss Cheney off real good!

Re:In Other News... (1)

mefus (34481) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193114)

Are you kidding? Quite a life???

Imagine being penned up with Billy Pilgrim!

Beer? (2)

ajs (35943) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193116)

What about the space beer [slashdot.org] ? As others pointed out, there's simply evidence of fluid due to erosion... I say it's space beer! ;-)

--
Aaron Sherman (ajs@ajs.com)

Re:have to land near the martian equator? (1)

HerrNewton (39310) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193117)

You actually answered your own question :-) If you land on the equator, you get the boost on takeoff. That extra push from the planet means you don't have to carry as much fuel, letting cut overall weight or put in more science.

----

Re:Water, water everywhere.. (1)

ShoeHead (40158) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193118)

It will never be done. Informative my butt.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193120)

Ok. I think trying to get a mission to Mars going is just too hard (politically). How about another tack though. Try arguing for a mission to the moon. After all if the US could do it 30 years ago it should be a cinch now .. right. Of course once a shuttle is given extra fuel to go round the moon .. people are gonna say ... if that guy could go up as a tourist then then next tourist could whiz by the moon and maybe even we could rig something up to land ... after all we're so much further along now than then ... or are we ?

So if you get missions to the moon then a mission to Mars suddenly looks more desirable because people can once more get into space exploration with the vanishingly faint but non-zero probability of tourists going there.

Pete

Re:"They" are already here.... (1)

Ghengis (73865) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193122)

Could you please point me to some sources of evidence on this? I've heard some of the theories about bacteria from meteorites and what-not bringing life to the planet, but i wanna know more... Enguiring Minds wanna know..

It's not just Budget (2)

Ghengis (73865) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193123)

It's not just budget problems that hold NASA back... its a lack of the enthusiasm we once had for the space program. We once had a president who directly challenged the space program to reach new heights (like the MOON), and we once had a sense of competition with the USSR challenging our space ego. Since then, the last man to set foot on the moon is a senior citizen and our rate of progress has GREATLY diminished. The budget isn't to blame. If a mass, genuine interest were shown (not just by us techies, but by our elected officials, and the general public as a whole) in reaching new goals in space, the budget would be there and it would get done. Hopefully with the talk of Russia re-entering the race, something of merit will get done... something more than just crashing a robot into a nearby planet.

Re:'The Possibility' 'We Can' 'Some Day' 'Maybe' (1)

jonwiley (79981) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193124)

Moreover, the initiative to travel or occupy another planet or moon would likely not ever be based on intelligent astronomical or planetary curiousities but, rather, it would likely be based on human's animal instincts to survive.


Actually, we'll probably go for money before circumstances necessitate a survival situation. Money has long been the driver for exploration and expansion. There's a lot of money to be made in space, it just takes a considerable amount of investment to jump-start the cash machine.

To paraphrase Carl Sagan: Extraordinary returns require extraordinary capital.

Re:Why is it always water? (2)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193125)

IANAG, but I imagine water is the most probable liquid to be found for the non-extreme kinds of temperatures that Mars has. What other liquid could be flowing in large amounts enough to erode the ground? I'm sure it's not oil, or we'd already be there digging it out. Maybe it was Pepsi? :)


----------

Why is it always water? (4)

stevens (84346) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193126)

IANA Astronomer/Geologist/whatever, but why, when evidence of erosion patterns is found, do they always assume it was water that made them?

Why couldn't it have been some other fluid? Why don't they say it's evidence of some sort of luquid or fluid?

Can any knowledgable geologists help me out?

Re:oh my god, it's the giant claw (1)

geekster (87252) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193127)

I bet it was trying to tear out the eyes of our beloved cydonia! (what! that's not cydonia?)

Drinking water (2)

geekster (87252) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193128)

Some posts are talking about using the water for drinking...
Well I don't know.
I've been warned about just drinking the water in a foreign country and now you're talking about drinking water from another planet?
I sure would hate to be spending my time on mars on the can.

In Other News... (5)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193129)

Recent satellite images of Mars reveal rust colored spots which scientists believe are Amelia Earhart's crashed airplane. "We believe Mrs Earhart was abducted by martians," said one scientist, "we think she had quite a life on mars and finally decided to try to fly her airplane around the planet. However she was unable to make it all the way around and crashed somewhere near the equator."

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

garoush (111257) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193131)

$20 to $100B? This is easy for Bill Gate to fund the project so that he can be as far away from the goverment as possible.


---------------
Sig
abbr.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

emir (111909) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193132)

actually lots has happened in last quarter of 20th century. for every year there is a more money being invested into r&d than the previous one. offcourse now we dont have any high-profile projects (star wars?) so its harder to notice improvements. i believe that most money nowadays goes into it and biotechnology. now that hugo project has been finished we can except huge influx of new medicine.

also it takes for a new technologies between 10-20 years to become widespread thus we mostly see applications that have been developed during 70-ies and 80-ies (minidisc, cd, mobile phones...)

Re:I'm a space geek, but... (1)

emir (111909) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193133)

But is a 100,000 year of water basin worth a costly mission to confirm it

you are missing the point. we are not sending manned mission to mars to confirm water. importance of liquid water existing on the surface of the mars is that our future manned missions are going to be much cheaper (we dont have to take water with us) while we are not going to have to be confined to polar regions of the mars.

Re:have to land near the martian equator? (1)

emir (111909) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193134)

actually i wander about this one too. as far as i know most of the mars mountanious regions are located on equator. shouldnt this make landing harder ?

Re:Constraints Exceed Current Technology (1)

j_w_d (114171) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193135)

The only real difficulties in sending a manned expedition to the moon are human (i.e. money and psychology). The simplest and most direct method is simply to build a Mars lander similar to the lunar landers and provision it adequately to lift off from Mars, even if there is no suitable chemical source on Mars (unlikely). This approach has been kicked around since the days of Werner von Braun and became demonstrably possible from an engineering point of view as soon as we landed men on the Moon. Throw enough resources and money at the problem and the trip is engineering child's play. The martian gravity well is nowhere near the problem the earth's is. The trip could even be staged with fuel sent ahead by slower orbits while the crew waited for more optimal transfer possibilities and for the fuel and gear to arrive ahead of them.

The real pinch is assembling the talent and funding. The current climate would lead to profoundly idiotic questions from the White House and the lamer members of congress about cost and whether it would be good for business.

The other human issue is how well a crew could stand the mixture of isolation and inability to avoid their fellow crew on such a trip. The situation could become a pyschological pressure cooker that could put new meaning to "going postal."

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (1)

Agthorr (135998) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193137)

The article isn't crap. The Slashdot poster is just misleading. The article says there is evidence for water ice near the surface, not liquid water. The article says there may have been liquid water 100,000 years ago, which is recent compared to many other estimates. From this, mkasei stated that there is evidence of "recent" liquid water.

-- Agthorr

Re:Does it help us or does it not (2)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193138)

Well perhaps we should spend the money on education to teach people like you how to spell!

Hacker: A criminal who breaks into computer systems

have to land near the martian equator? (1)

Thu Anon Coward (162544) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193139)

I noticed the /. blurb mentioned making the mission easier because the liquid was near the equator? what does this have to do with it? how does it make the mission easier? I understand lifting off into space is easier from the equator, but landing?




Re:Constraints Exceed Current Technology (1)

StudMuffin (167171) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193141)

Throw enough resources and money at the problem and the trip is engineering child's play. The martian gravity well is nowhere near the problem the earth's is. The trip could even be staged with fuel sent ahead by slower orbits while the crew waited for more optimal transfer possibilities and for the fuel and gear to arrive ahead of them.

If it was childs play, what happened to the last three martian probes? (yes, I know what HAPPENED, my point is that it happened at all...) Sending fuel and food ahead in a slower orbit is only usefull if it actually GETS there. And I seriously doubt our ability to get it there with enough reliability to stake a mission on it.

Then again, missions without risk gain us nothing. So, if you can find folks willing to starve to death on mars, I say go for it.

Manned mission a pipe dream? (3)

StudMuffin (167171) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193142)

With budgets being slashed and Nasa having trouble getting robots to land, what does everyone think the reality of a manned mission in our lifetime is?

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (5)

Viadd (173388) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193143)

Wrong.

-53C is the global average, rather than the equatorial average. Mars gets as warm as 27 C. The pressure is also dependent on the altitude, just as it is on Earth, and Valles Marinaris is 7 km deep. The highest pressure is up to about 9 millibars, well above the 6 millibars of the triple point of water. (See the nine planets [arizona.edu] for a handy reference).

In low-lying equatorial regions, you can temporarily get conditions that support liquid water.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (3)

duber007 (180719) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193144)

I don't think a manned mission will happen any time soon, but with technology seeming to stagnate (compared to the periods of quick and important advances in the first 3/4 of the 20th century) we need something to "light a fire under our asses". Aside from a major world war, nothing helped improve the rate of technological advancement more than the space race of the 60s. There hasn't really been any monumental discoveries/acheivements (besides the genome project) in the last 20 or so years - just refinement of current technology. Just the fact that Moore's Law for computing power is still relevant attests to this.

Since we don't want another world war, a good old fashioned space race would do wonders for all the R&D guys out there - increased funding, less pressure to make projects financially viable, etc.

Only problem is finding someone to race against.....don't think the Russians can handle it anymore - maybe the Chinese?

Old News from the fringe (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193145)

Some of the fringe sites have been talking about this [enterprisemission.com] since july 2000 [enterprisemission.com]

Of Course, being the fringe, they have alot of other weird things as well.

The way I look at it, when you turn up the sensitivity on the radar, you tend to get more noise along with extra advanced warning.

It comes with the territory.

Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/pressure (4)

SlushDot (182874) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193146)

Anyone who has seen a phase transition diagram of water [sbu.ac.uk] and is familiar with Martian surface temperature and pressure [ucl.ac.uk] , will tell you that this article is pure sensationalist tripe. Liquid water cannot exist on Mars. Period. Ye canna change the laws ah physics, kiptain!

Earth's atmospheric pressure is 1 atm or converting to kPa [chromatography.co.uk] , 100 kPa. Martian atmospheric pressure is about 1% of Earth's or about 1 kPa (10^3 Pa on the chart). Average Martian surface temperatures at the equator are -53C or 220K. Now looking at our chart again, we see that at this point, water cannot exist as a liquid, but only as a solid (ice). As day/night termperatures shift, water will alternate between solid and gas only, never even passing through the liquid state, and once a gas, not likely to collect on the ground, but remain suspended as ice crystals high in the air. So for now, the collecting frozen water from near the poles, storing it in canisters , and transporting those to any camps remains the only realistic wat of getting water on Mars.

Re:sig (1)

psyclone (187154) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193147)

I thought it was a cool sig as well and played around with it for a bit. It appears that h36 is the optimal number, instead of h38 -- has to do with the length (see camel book).

fortunately, it's just executing a print statment, however, you could easily replace "print" with "system" and your encoded command.

Re:"water ice"... thanks (1)

psyclone (187154) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193148)

that makes total sense considering other forms of ice seem to be much more common in our solar system.

Hand? (1)

SparkyMartin (206236) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193149)

Looks like a giant bony hand is submerged in the sand. Wait until the "Face on Mars" supporters get a hold of this pic...they'll enhance the image and find evidence for a wedding ring, nailpolish, wrinkles.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (1)

SparkyMartin (206236) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193150)

The Omni Future Almanac of 1980 predicted by 2000 there would be 10000 people working in space and on the moon.

I think the biggest hurdle facing a manned mission to mars is how to coop-up 5-10 people for 2 years in a tin can with the living space of an apartment without them going bonkers and killing each other. Until they find a way to shorten the trip down from months to weeks a manned flight isn't too likely.

Re:Why is it always water? (1)

Fenris2001 (210117) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193151)

Interesting thing is, the carbon's not primal - it had to be made by other processes later on. The only primal elements are hydrogen (75%), helium (25%), and a very small amount of litium (0.001%, if that). All the other elements were made from reactions between these three.

So somehow these clouds had to form from hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, then be blown into interstellar space, but not hard enough to break them down. I wonder if anyone has done an analysis of these to determine the isotope ratios....
---------------

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (4)

Fenris2001 (210117) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193152)

Not quite.

Liquid "water" is possible on Mars, in the form of brines - essentially, salts dissolved in water. Mix a bunch of table salt into a glass of water and put in in the freezer - some may freeze, but as it does, it concentrates the salt in the liquid portion until equilibrium is reached. Remember that pure water is rare, it is much more likely to have salt in it (Earth's oceans).

So, instead of looking only at the phase diagram of water, take a look at the binary or ternary phases diagram of water and various salts - some brines are liquids at -53C.

And there are other ways of making water on Mars - the atmosphere contains a few parts per million of water vapor. Yes, vapor, not ice. Run that past a zeolite bed, an extreme dessicant, and the level drops to a few parts per billion. Eventually, the zeolite absorbs about 20% of its mass in water. You then close the container, heat it up, and the water vapor is driven off to be collected and liquified. We don't have to go to the poles for water. The energy balance on this scheme works out to around 10 kWh per kilogram of water produced, quite doable with a few radioisotope thermal generators.

I recommend to every one Robert Zubrin's excellent book, The Case for Mars. You can buy it from the Mars Society, linked below.
---------------

What's difficult about the poles? (1)

Z4rd0Z (211373) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193153)

From the article:
"Maybe we don't have to go to the poles to find water ice. It's easier for a spacecraft to survive at the equator," Mustard said.

Does anyone know why it's easier for a spacecraft to survive at the equator? Is Mustard (I love that name!) just referring to colder temperatures?

Re:Washboards? (1)

kenbr (211392) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193154)

The how and why of washboard [alaska.edu] roads.

So what? (1)

ROBOKATZ (211768) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193155)

I don't understand. So what's the big deal? It's just water. I know, everyone is hoping that Water = Life. But there are many other components necessary for life. The presence of water does not mean life exists or ever existed. In fact, frankly, the chances that life has ever existed on any "water" planet are pretty low. This article is just NASA pushing out more propaganda trying to save its funding.

Re:...as recently as 100,000 years? (1)

ignavus (213578) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193156)

ice in the soil was once present as close to the equator as 30 degrees and as recently as 100,000 years

100,000 years ago?

Was that when the last Martians left to colonise Earth?

Going to Mars (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193157)

I think we should definitely get a manned mission to Mars as soon as possible.

When I was born, we had just made it to the moon. I wish I could have been alive to witness that moment. In my 30 years, there hasn't been a single truly amazing technological accomplishment like reaching the moon. Sure, things have gotten smaller, faster, and cheaper. But nothing Earth-shattering has happened that just makes us sit down and say "Wow!"

We've been on cruise control for 32 years. That's bad. Any country--and indeed all mankind--needs a goal. Something to shoot for, keep the scientists thinking, keep everyone dreaming. Just waiting out the recession and waiting for profit reports for the next quarter isn't sufficient motivation for mankind to continue advancing in meaningful ways. Not only do we need to create wealth, we need to continue scientific advances. Humans have always explored "the next frontier," be it out of greed, curiosity, or necessity. There is plenty of room on Mars for all of these, eventually.

Apparently the Russians are planning a manned mission [space.com] to Mars by 2020 and are asking for international cooperation. That's fine, but I hope America takes the lead as it has in the past. Especially considering Russia's financial situation there's really no way they're going anywhere unless they get a ride with the rest of the world.

In any case, I'd much prefer my tax dollars to be spent on meaningful scientific research that gets us to Mars or a colony on the moon rather than our many entitlement programs. If we'd even spend 1/5th of our entitlement budget on scientific R&D we'd have an outpost on the moon followed by a manned mission and outpost on Mars rather than paying people to stay at home and watch TV instead of working.

i wanna go (1)

gergi (220700) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193158)

i wanna taste the water the little green men drink...

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193160)

Agreed. The BBC article is much more reasonable. It doesn't however provide any details with respect to the theorising of the existance of ice crystals binding together dust on the surface of mars - a much more reasonable hypothesys.

Re:oh my god, it's the giant claw (1)

The Z Master (234139) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193161)

The area the hand is located also looks like an eye socket, with the nose in the middle of the picture.

very freaky

Coupled with the Mars "Human Face" mountain... (1)

TroyFoley (238708) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193162)

that was debunked years ago as a play of light, is anyone else freaked out by a hand that looks like it was torn off of Predator in this picture: http://www.spaceref.com/redirect.html?id=0&url=ima ges.spaceref.com/news/2001/01-006a.jpg

Water, water everywhere.. (2)

perdida (251676) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193163)

I smell an economic bottleneck.

We live on a water based planet and have a water based economy.. this was not necessarily clear when water was plentiful enuf to be free, but now as it becomes scarce we see how much of our society is undergirded by it.

Hence we are going to Mars with water technology.. water as the base for hydrogen fuel and oxygen for a manned mission. And we wish to terraform Mars, taking hundreds of years and quadrillions of dollars to conform a planet to our needs.

Why don't we do the quicker thing and conform ourselves to the planet's needs?

Consider that we have broken through cloning technology, genetic engineering, etc. before having solved the long distance space transport problem to the degree that would suit the human biology. In other words, it's historically and technologically easier to adapt *ourselves* to Mars, rather than vice versa.

We should engineer carbon-breathing people, able to breathe rarefied Mars air and survive under cold and heat and low gravity..although this would necessitate a fundamental revision of the ATP cycle and other biological processes, in generational terms it may be easier than basing everything on water, which is very rare in the universe. We may benefit here on Earth by reformatting our biology, as we have been steadily destroying the ecology that created us.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (2)

bahtama (252146) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193164)

What NASA needs to do is claim that they have discovered huge oil reserves on Mars and George will have us there next week! :P

=-=-=-=-=

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (2)

imipak (254310) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193165)

This is an unpopular opinion here, but frankly: I think the chances of a manned mission in our lifetime (well, say, before the end of the century) is NIL. And - strap yourselves in - I think that's a good thing. Even the most swivel-eyed Destiny of Man is Beyond This Earth lunatics concede that the most drastically trimmed down, everything-works-first-time mission with hopelessly optimistic assumptions about private industry, producing food and fuel in situ mission - one where they're trying desperately to get the cost down as low as possible - would cost 30 billion dollars. And for what? Basically, it all boils down to "it'd be cool!!". Sorry folks, no matter how cool the pictures, no-ones going to spend that kind of money on something so risky with such small returns.
--

I'm a space geek, but... (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193168)

I just can't get excited about 100,000 year old lakes on Mars. I'm not sure why. Hubble, ISS, Voyager, stuff like that - really cool. But is a 100,000 year of water basin worth a costly mission to confirm it - maybe - but I guess I'd rather see the money spent on things like ISS expansion, better weather sats, comm stas, etc, etc. I think spac exploration is great, but folks calling for new manned or unmanned missions to mars everytime a new sign of old water is found seem unrealistic. Don't get me wrong - the robotic camera that sent back panoramic views of Mars was incredible. But we've been there, done that and have awesome pics of the surface. DO we really need to spend billions finding out what the red dirt is made of? I guess you can say that about any mission, but I support most of them. It just seems like Mars missions are stretching teh realism of current space budgets

Re:Something liquid is visible on Mars (1)

tantrum (261762) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193169)

If there's no liquid on the surface of Mars, water or otherwise, then what is this stuff?.
That sure did look like a fake to me...what is all that shade doing there? Is it supposed to be clouds or something? I'm no image expert, but I did not really get any new knowledge from that picture

Water on mars (2)

theeds (300421) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193171)

CNN.com is running running basically the same story [cnn.com] -Theed

"a giant leap..." (1)

vulg4r_m0nk (304652) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193176)

A 7-Eleven spokesperson added "This profound discovery will shave years off our plans to offer Slurpies(R) on the Martian surface, and represents a giant leap toward the goal of ubiquitous instant refreshment." While current plans include only the popular Coke and grape flavors, an insider confirmed that the 7-Eleven R&D department is already hard at work creating flavors unique to the Red Planet, such as "Extreme Exfoliating Sandstorm Fury", and "Cup of Dirt and Rocks".

Re:Water, water everywhere.. (2)

vulg4r_m0nk (304652) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193177)

sounds cool, but you're missing one very important cost involved -- changing human societies such that we could accept variations like the one you describe. We still struggle with issues of race and gender; how could we even begin to deal with differences on the scale required for a person to live comfortably on Mars due to genetic modifications?

Furthermore, a human being engineered to live on Mars would have very little choice about his/her future, as the modifications would likely prohibit a life on Earth. We would be intentionally depriving these people of their autonomy.

Taken together, this represents a significant cost in human terms, even though the financial gains might be promising.

Interesting geological feature©©© (1)

Teechur007 (305420) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193178)

Lookie in the middle of the picture at the hand-like formation©©©think the Cydonia "face" people will make something of it? The unfortunate thing is that if it IS an alien hand, it looks pretty threatening©©©what with the claws and all©©© : Teacher007 ~~Keeping the adolescent world safe from themselves~~

Re:Missions to Mars (1)

tbone1 (309237) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193179)

On the other hand, if they asked for people to send in money so they could send NStynch and the Backdoor Boys to Mars, sans life support, you'd see parents and older siblings reach straight for their wallets/purses.

Re:Water, water everywhere.. (1)

tbone1 (309237) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193180)

Also sprach perdida:

We live on a water based planet and have a water based economy.. this was not necessarily clear when water was plentiful enuf to be free, but now as it becomes scarce we see how much of our society is undergirded by it.

Scarce? Water is becoming scarce? Explain that to my friend whose sump pump quit working while he was on vacation.

I sometimes think that the reason that many environmentalists get their knickers in a twist over water is that many of them live out west where water is scarce. Here in the Midwest we have the opposite problem, which is why we have to build levees, reservoirs (to hold the excess), etc. People tend to project their own local experiences when the "think globally", and this is not meant as a flame, merely a datum. I admit that I do this as well.

Re:So what? (1)

Geekwad (309774) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193182)

Precisely. I think the idea of life on mars has pretty much been abandoned at this point (Or if not abandoned, at least shoved over in favor of finding resources for our boys when they get there) and the fact that water is there means that that is one less thing to bring with you.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (4)

Eryq (313869) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193185)

1 in 1, if:
  • ...you tell George Bush that they discovered oil up there.
  • ...you tell Bill Gates that none of the Martians are running Windows 2000 yet.

Re:Um, liquid H20... White Mars (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193186)

Check out the White Mars [latrobe.edu.au] hypothesis.

While there certainly frozen water at the poles, an argument can be made that most of the "water" features seen across Mars were made by carbon dioxide in a process comparable to pyroclastic flows from Earth's volcanos.

NASA has a vested interest in finding water on Mars, and while it's understandable there's no excuse for ignoring valid alternate hypotheses.

Re:have to land near the martian equator? (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193187)

Water + sunlight + solar cells = oxygen and rocket fuel. Less to pack.

It's probably all meaningless anyway. There's likely never been any significant amount of water [latrobe.edu.au] on Mars. Once Mars Surveyor [nasa.gov] gets there and fails to find anything this whole discussion will start to seem laughable.

Re:have to land near the martian equator? (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193188)

Sheesh. If I could post and mod at the same time I'm mod my own post down. Misread your question. Sorry.

...as recently as 100,000 years? (2)

NaturePhotog (317732) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193190)

From the article:

... ice in the soil was once present as close to the equator as 30 degrees and as recently as 100,000 years

I realize that's a very short time in geologic time, but that's an awfully long time to consider there's still useful amounts of water anywhere near the equator:
Astronaut 1: Where's the water?
Astronaut 2: Water?
Astronaut 1: You know...for drinking, creating fuel for the trip home...that sort of thing.
Astronaut 2: Oh, that! I dunno...it was here a 100,000 years ago!

Still, it's interesting data about the changes on Mars.

Beer (1)

Yorrike (322502) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193191)

If only they'd discovered recent flowing beer on the surface of Mars.

Imagine the good press you'd get from that!

----------------------------------------

oh my god, it's the giant claw (2)

janpod66 (323734) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193192)

Now, in addition to the face of Cydonia [mt.net] , we have a giant claw [spaceref.com] (just look at the bottom of the picture): four fingers with opposable thumb. It looks like it was trying to reach up to the cliff and slipped. What other body parts are we going to find???

Re:Does it help us or does it not (1)

Uttles (324447) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193193)

I agree, we have other things we could spend the money on. However there is something called the advancement of Man that we must not neglect. Without such programs deemed "not necessary" we would not further our technology and our understanding of the universe, and we would therefore be stuck, which would eventually kill us. The space program has provided earth with many advancements which have saved countless lives and bettered life in many ways. I know it would make more readers of "Seventeen" happy if we handed out free food to poor people, but I think the money is being well spent.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re:It's not just Budget (1)

Uttles (324447) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193194)

Hell yeah! Can I get a "Amen!" ???
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193197)

I think the biggest hurdle facing a manned mission to mars is how to coop-up 5-10 people for 2 years in a tin can with the living space of an apartment without them going bonkers and killing each other.

Well, a few hundred years ago they used to coop up dozens of people in a wooden barrel with the living space of an apartment and send them on journeys that could last for years. I guess a few of them probably killed each other, but it didn't seem to deter them.

Re:Why is it always water? (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193198)

Why couldn't it have been some other fluid?

I vote for beer. (Which is consistent with both H2O and CO2 hypotheses, BTW.)

Re:Water on Callisto? (1)

mgarraha (409436) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193199)

I remember hearing that about Europa, another Jovian moon, but not Callisto. Scientists do seem to get excited about new indirect observations of things they can't observe directly.

Who said anything about a manned mission? (1)

mgarraha (409436) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193200)

This story is not about space travel; it's about geology and climate change. The scientists saw some terrain features that looked like the result of glacial processes, with a latitude distribution suggesting a global advance and retreat of ice.

Many planetary scientists think they can learn more about Earth by studying other worlds. They probably see manned missions only as a way to get better observations.

Some of us astronaut wannabes should pump some liquid water from the Earth's crust and take a cold shower. Then the air within 3 meters will be a little cleaner, mitigating the urge to evacuate the planet.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (4)

s20451 (410424) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193202)

what does everyone think the reality of a manned mission in our lifetime is?

It depends on a couple of things:

  • Cost. This is probably the big one. Estimates for the cost of a manned Mars mission range from $20 billion to over $100 billion; bearing in mind that estimates for the cost of the Apollo project drastically undershot the actual cost, the mission would probably cost $200 billion or more with existing technology. Meanwhile, NASA is working on single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) technology, as well as "living off the land" technology - producing propellant from Martian gases, etc., which if successful will cut the cost of launch by an order of magnitude. With a price tag of hundreds of billions, there probably won't be a mission for 30 years or more. However, if the cost goes down to around $10 billion, a mission could happen within a decade. If a dramatic increase in technology reduced it to around $1 billion, I can imagine private investors funding the mission -- imagine Larry Ellison or Bill Gates as the first man on Mars!
  • Reason to Go. Right now the reasons to go include "because it's there" and "because we might find evidence of life". The Apollo missions happened as quickly as they did due to political competition; that's unlikely to be repeated. However, if compelling evidence of Martian life is ever found, along with the region of Mars in which it is most likely to be located, I expect that will dramatically increase interest in a manned mission.

Re:Manned mission a pipe dream? (4)

s20451 (410424) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193203)

I think the biggest hurdle facing a manned mission to mars is how to coop-up 5-10 people for 2 years in a tin can with the living space of an apartment without them going bonkers and killing each other.

Aren't they doing something like that on Fox this season?

Re:Why is it always water? (1)

psych031337 (449156) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193207)

If you fly there for two years straigt you at least *want* to believe in a chance to take shower upon arrical.

Also, if they replaced the terms "water" and "H2O" with "alcohol" or "ethanol" it would lead to a dangerous surge in civilian manned space exploration (read: rednecks building rockets).

(And yes, clouds of "alcoholic" compounds have (supposedly) been found in space. This is significant in a way as it tells us that there isn't just Hydrogen and Oxygen out there, but on occasion you can also find Carbon... primal soup anyone?)

'The Possibility' 'We Can' 'Some Day' 'Maybe' (2)

idonotexist (450877) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193208)

I, for one, am sick of stories related to how humans could, one day, occupy or travel to another planet or moon. As well all know, since the walk on the moon during the cold war, no nation or community of nations has taken a substantive step to occupy or physically visit another planet or moon.

If such an event has yet to occur, then I doubt to see it during my lifetime and I doubt any user at /. will see it. Generally, humankind does not prepare for such a monumential undertaking unless it is threatened or if a catastrophe has occurred/is about to occur. In other words, unless a meteor hits earth or some other horrible event occurs, I doubt humankind will be motivated to do nothing more than talk the talk. By then, it would probably be too late to save mankind by moving/finding a new planet.

Moreover, the initiative to travel or occupy another planet or moon would likely not ever be based on intelligent astronomical or planetary curiousities but, rather, it would likely be based on human's animal instincts to survive. If this was not true, then does mankind not currently possess such intelligent curiousities and the technology for a substantive developments?

Re:So what? (1)

RobYoung (451535) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193209)

The big deal is that when NASA lands manned spacecraft on the planet, there will already be a water supply. The poster mentioned this.

Also, pressure variations are extreme on Mars. (1)

deathcow (455995) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193210)

The surface pressure on Mars varies seasonally, because about 20% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere freezes out at the poles in winter. Although the amount of water vapor is very low (0.03%), it is actually close to saturation for the thin, cold Martian atmosphere--thus the atmosphere of Mars is actually very wet. In terms of relative humidity, it is even wetter than that of Earth!

Compared to Earth, the atmosphere of Mars is very thin. On Earth the average pressure exerted by the atmosphere on its surface is 1,013 millibars (mbar), but on Mars the average surface pressure is only 8 mbar, less than one hundredth that of Earth. The atmosphere of Earth is predominately nitrogen (78.1%) followed in abundance by oxygen (20.9%), which is due to the activity of photosynthetic organisms such as algae and plants. Earth's level of carbon dioxide is so low (0.035%) that some algae and plants are limited by their ability to obtain it for photosynthesis. In contrast, the Martian atmosphere is largely carbon dioxide (95.32%), followed in abundance by nitrogen (2.7%), argon (1.6%), and oxygen (0.13%).

Water on Callisto? (1)

tsarina (456482) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193211)

I heard about the underground ocean in 6th grade! Honestly, this is nothing new. Maybe the editors are posting extra stories to divert all the traffic on the Sklyarov story and 511 comments.

Re:"water ice"... ? (1)

tsarina (456482) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193212)

They use the term to differenciate from ammonia ice, etc. There are numerous other elements that form ice, and those are found on other planets more commonly than water.

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (1)

YanIsa (460789) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193214)

Hello,

I recommend to every one Robert Zubrin's excellent book, The Case for Mars.

while we're at the recommendation stage - I heartily recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy which combines scientific fact (yes, it answers the water/pressure/ice question) with an excellent story.

Red Mars at Amazon [amazon.com]
(the other two books are Green Mars and Blue Mars)

Yan

Gilina: "I can't believe you're not Sebacean."
John: "Human. It's kinda like Sebacean, but we haven't conquered other worlds yet, so we just kick the crap out of each other."

Farscape, PK Tech Girl

So the obvious solution is... (2)

Paintthemoon (460937) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193215)

...to sell the broadcast rights to Fox to finance the mission.

Re:Um, liquid H20 impossible at martian temp/press (2)

Izmunuti (461052) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193216)

Uh, I suppose that's why the article used the word "ice" as in the hard, decidedly non-liquid form of H2O.

Ground control to Major Tom (1)

sifter128 (470589) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193217)

If there is life on Mars, I bet it's scared of us.

Does it help us or does it not (1)

casualtie (470950) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193219)

What would be the porpourse of spending millions of dollars to send someting to a forien planet to study it when it will do know good to us here on Earth?Why not spend it on something worth our wile like buying computers,books for schools reparing the shit for roads everyday.What is your opion?

Re:Does it help us or does it not (1)

casualtie (470950) | more than 13 years ago | (#2193220)

Yes that is true. But i think we need to focus on the problems we have here first.We are worried to much on our neibors firieng misiels at us.WE need to unite togeather as one and stop worrieng what the other guy is doing.We do not have the technaglie to venture out to space yet it takes 2 years to get to the red planet.and it is right next to us.We need the technaglie to put a man on another plaet not a machiean.
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