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Surprising Further Evidence for a Wet Mars

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the slippery-when-wet dept.

Mars 192

Riding with Robots writes "When the robotic geologist Spirit found the latest evidence for a wet Mars, 'You could hear people gasp in astonishment,' said Steve Squyres, the lead scientist for the Mars rovers. 'This is a remarkable discovery. And the fact that we found something this new and different after nearly 1,200 days on Mars makes it even more remarkable. It makes you wonder what else is still out there.' The latest discovery, announced today, adds compelling new evidence for ancient conditions that might have been favorable for life, according to the rover team."

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192 comments

Mars, you're so wet. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214381)

Baby, we're coming. Oh yes.

Mods are the real anonymous cowards. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19215307)

EOM.

Sand? (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214391)

So... they found sand?

Re:Sand? (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214425)

It's a part of sand.

Silica [wikipedia.org] or Silicon dioxide, is the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica, usually in the form of quartz because the considerable hardness of this mineral resists erosion. However, the composition of sand varies according to local rock sources and conditions.

Re:Sand? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19215299)

Silica is also a common desiccant, as in clear kitty litter or the little packets of stuff you shouldn't eat, found with your new video card. Since it's meant to absorb moisture, I'd say the chances of finding freestanding water just went down, but at least we know to check the beaches.

Re:Sand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19215955)

Does that mean Tatooine and Arrakis used to have lots of water?

Re:Sand? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216061)

Unless it's some sort of magical sand, yeah, I guess so.

Deserts typically have internal drainage basins that accumlate and store water underground.. where the water occasionally springs to the surface, you get an oasis.

Re:Sand? (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214449)

Its not just sand, its a beach ergo there must be water.

Solvents (4, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214473)

" ...ergo there must be water."

TFA concludes that water had to be present as a solvent. I'm sceptical.
Silica is a polar molecule ( tetraheral: two oxygen atoms and two unlinked electron pairs equally spaced around a silion atom ). It ought to dissolve in any polar solvent, such as ammonia. And ammonia was almost certainly present during the formation of mars.

Re:Solvents (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214657)




TFA concludes that water had to be present as a solvent. I'm sceptical. Silica is a polar molecule ( tetraheral: two oxygen atoms and two unlinked electron pairs equally spaced around a silion atom ). It ought to dissolve in any polar solvent, such as ammonia. And ammonia was almost certainly present during the formation of mars.



Let me tell you what isn't wet. Women around you.







Re:Solvents (3, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214679)

Perhaps "ought to". But that doesn't bode well for glass bottles holding ammonia solutions.

Re:Solvents (4, Informative)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214933)

True. A good reason to put it in plastic bottles. It does dissolve, just very slowly. Stronger bases (think Liquid Plumr) dissolve it even faster, but it still is slow.

Re:Solvents (2, Informative)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215211)

...glass bottles holding ammonia solutions
That logic should equally apply to glass bottles holding water. Indeed, due to the geometry involved, water is more polar than ammonia, and thus should be the stronger solvent.

Actually, both water and ammonia should dissolve a glass bottle. At room temperature they just do it very very very slowly.

Re:Solvents (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215187)

That doesn't work. Ammonia is liquid only up to around 130 C. Water has a critical temperature of around 370 C. That means that water can disolve a lot more silica than ammonia can. And let's note that water is far more prevalent on Mars now than ammonia is (most nitrogen shows up as N2. Further, the chemical environment doesn't support prevalent ammonia. It's far too acidic IMHO.

Re:Sand? (1)

Bamafan77 (565893) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215519)

Its not just sand, its a beach ergo there must be water.
Nude beach? The answer to this question will be a key component to my theory on why life ceased to exist on Mars.

Re:Sand? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19215361)

wet farts?

captcha! fellatio!!

Looks like ... (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214393)

... that gimpy wheel was a blessing in disguise. I think those little robots have been remarkable ... especially lasting years past their estimated '90 day' lives. If only the produce in my fridge could last that long past its estimated use date.

Re:Looks like ... (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214421)

It does, you just have to alter its mission to adapt to the changes.

Re:Looks like ... (4, Interesting)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215771)

Which is exactly what happened on Mars....albeit accidentally....

From the article....the dead 6th wheel's new mission is as a plow of sorts.....

"One of Spirit's six wheels no longer rotates, so it leaves a deep track as it drags through soil. That churning has exposed several patches of bright soil, leading to some of Spirit's biggest discoveries at Gusev, including this recent discovery. "

Re:Looks like ... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214447)

Heh. If the engineers who made your fridge knew that if they told the higher-ups that it would last 3 years they would never get funding to build it, they probably would have said it would only last for 90 days too.

Re:Looks like ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214947)

Teachers should make note of this and use it with the old adage "every failure is an opportunity to learn". Students maybe bored with the old penicillin discovery or similar stories, but today's kids should find robots interesting.

Re:Looks like ... (5, Informative)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215233)

... that gimpy wheel was a blessing in disguise

While this does appear to be an interplanetary bug-as-a-feature, the rovers' wheels were actually designed to be able to scrape off the top layer of soil and expose what's underneath.

Obviously, not to the degree this disabled wheel has, but still, they very much had plans to scratch below the surface of Mars.

- RG>

Quaid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214399)

He awoke and wanted Mars...

Ok great... (4, Insightful)

lamegovie (1055366) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214415)

Now how about looking in places that will show us the existence of LIFE on Mars....like say in the polar ice caps or subterranean caverns? I dont think even MORE evidence that there was water on Mars would be that shocking...

Re:Ok great... (4, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214465)

I think this means more.

Ice on the poles, a given. Easy. There are even some moons who're thought to have it. This, though, means that there was water there, liquid water, in larger quantities, far from the poles. And this water could have been the engine for life. Long, long time ago, granted, but still.

It's not that there was water, it's where they found it.

Re:Ok great... (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215033)

You give the engineers too much credit. Just look at things like the DARPA challenge [darpa.mil]

We can't even get a car to DRIVE across habitable terrain... how in bloody hell do you think we can engineer a robot to crawl subterrainian caverns and search for life?

Re:Ok great... (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216013)

Not to mention...

If they can get a signal from inside a subterranean cabin, I do believe cingular owes me money.

Banth and mad Zitidor tracks (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214431)

I am not supprised at all be the rovers discovery of multiple sets of Banth tracks. I had expected this.

I really was expecting Thoat prints, as they have been assumed to be much more common in both wild and domestic species.

I hope the next rover mission lands near the lost sea of Korus, where the mysterious river Iss empties.

Cheers

Re:Banth and mad Zitidor tracks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19215327)

...but I thought Sand People ride single file to hide their numbers? *shrug*

There's no crying in baseball! (4, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214483)

The newly discovered patch of soil has been given the informal name "Gertrude Weise," after a player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, according to Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, deputy principal investigator for the rovers.

No offense to Gertrude Weise, but -- huh?

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214527)

Appearantly the NASA is suffering from the MMORPG phenomenon when naming their findings: All the good names are taken already.

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (3, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214745)

...So I figure I'll google "Gertrude Weise" and see if I can get some info to see if there's some reason that they picked the name or are they just coming up with names. I run into Spirit Mission Manager Reports: [nasa.gov]. It catches my eye for these two quotes, taken entirely out of context:
  • "[...] Spirit backed up over Gertrude Weise [...]"
  • "Spirit acquired full color 13-filter images of Gertrude Weise [...]"
It's not clear whether Spirit took the pictures before or after backing over Gertrude Weise--if it was after, it may have been done for insurance purposes...

By the way, in reading the article, I notice that Spirit is near something that NASA is calling "Home Plate." So I assume that's what the baseball references are. There's also a "Virginia Bell" [baseballhistorian.com] (not be confused, I assume, with this Virginia Bell [javasbachelorpad.com]), "Kathryn Beare" [baseball-reference.com], and "Janice O'Hara" [baseball-reference.com].

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215019)

  • "[...] Spirit backed up over Gertrude Weise [...]"
  • "Spirit acquired full color 13-filter images of Gertrude Weise [...]"
Hey, Spirit is a slashdotter! Only a slashdotter will spend the time with his date making backups and taking 13-filter images!

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (0, Flamebait)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214751)

There are many possible interpretations, but they're all highly sexist and/or insulting. Right about now, the team should be sharpening up their spiked boots to walk all over the NASA guy who came up with the name.

Not necessarily. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214853)

Until you hear what the guy actually says, would you back the fuck up? Don't assume something's sexist based only on the interpretations of it that come to your mind. That's not feminism, it's closed-mindedness.

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215103)

Who knew Imus was working at NASA?

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215315)

Well, since they're sending him up on the manned Mars mission, they obviously wanted him to have a look first at where he was going to cra..., uh, land.

Re:There's no crying in baseball! (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214897)

No offense to Gertrude Weise, but -- huh?

they give a name of every single geological landmark they find. and given that the definition of "landmark" is very broad (pretty much anything bigger than a sizable rock), they're just burning through names.

Still more evidence... (5, Insightful)

jmtpi (17834) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214533)

...that robot/space telescope exploration gets you a lot more bang for the buck than trying to put a man back on the moon. Hopefully the next President will kill off this return to the moon business and start putting money into stuff like this again.

Re:Still more evidence... (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214753)

A man on mars would do more science in 2 days than the rovers have done in 3 years.

Re:Still more evidence... (2, Insightful)

Bad D.N.A. (753582) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214999)

A man on mars would do more science in 2 days than the rovers have done in 3 years.

After we dusted the surface with the first few manned missions where insertion didn't quite work as planned (like many of the robotic missions have done), then perhaps. Just start with the cost of the rovers and start multiplying by tens, lots of tens. I doubt your "science" advancements as well. I think we would be looking at golf balls being hit off the Valles Marineris, numerous flag-postings, and speak-with-a-scientist-live-on-Mars photoshoots before one stitch of science was even contemplated.

You don't send men until you know for sure that there is something there, and know for sure exactly where it is. Then and only then can you justify the (powers of ten) cost.

Re:Still more evidence... (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215255)

Yep. I definitely didn't mean to suggest that sending humans to mars to do "good science" was the point of sending humans to mars. Nor should it be. I'd be terribly happy if no-one ever mentioned science the same sentence as the manned space program ever again.

Hopefully the costs of manned space flight are coming down. alt.space is that crusade. Then all these heady justifications for why we need to spend so much tax payer money will go away too. If we're lucky, NASA's role in manned space flight will be completely transformed and science will finally be recognised as the secondary motivation that it always been.

The purpose of manned space flight is not science. It's not spin-offs. It's not pork projects. It's not "national pride". It's not communications. It's not even about the limits to growth on our tiny planet.

All that stuff is just reasons we make up to keep the population paying for it. We need these justifications to explain why someone who barely has enough money to make rent should be paying for a space station.

The purpose of manned space flight is human unity. It's the global selfless dedication to a goal greater than all of humanity. It's what we learn science and build surplus economies to achieve. It's the purpose of being alive now. We need to get off this rock right now. We need to be more than just one planet. We need this so that we can look up at night and know there are people up there. Not just a scientist or two.. but an entire civilization.

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

Bad D.N.A. (753582) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216173)

I frequently agree with your comments so I'm not trying to be derogatory but:

Manned space flight == "It's the purpose of being alive now"

is simply "pie in the sky"

I am alive because my parents were successful in procreation. My purpose is of my own making.

There is no higher power that can issue an edict declaring the purpose of my (or anyone else's) life.

I apologize if I've taken your comments beyond what you meant.

There is a fine line between the arguments for manned space flight and the definition of a Boondoggle

Re:Still more evidence... (2, Funny)

gregleimbeck (975759) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216327)

After we dusted the surface with the first few manned missions where insertion didn't quite work as planned (like many of the robotic missions have done), then perhaps.
Then most of us decided that dating was a waste of time, and we should just go back to reading Slashdot.

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215637)

A man on mars would do more science in 2 days than the rovers have done in 3 years.

But putting a man on Mars requires a huge infrastructure to provide food, water, habitable temperatures, earthlike atmospheric pressures, shielding from radiation, so on and soforth. Plus, it all has to have double or triple redundancy, or the risk will become too high to be acceptable to the public, which increases the complexity, mass, and expense of that stuff accordingly. And then it all has to be hauled to Mars, and back.

Robots don't need food, or water, or oxygen. Then can operate at extreme temperatures, in vacuums, and exposed to high levels of radiation. And they're expendable, which means you send lots of robots with high individual failure rates and still accomplish your mission. And if the robot fails, maybe Jay Leno makes a joke, but you don't have a national week of mourning and put the entire program on hold. At the end of it, you don't have to bring them back, so you don't have to engineer and pay for a return mission. The end result is that robots are orders of magnitude cheaper, simpler, and faster to send to Mars. Yes, that man on Mars could accomplish as much as the robots have done. But given the years of research and development time and the billions of dollars that it would take to put that man on Mars, the robotic exploration program could probably accomplish hundred times as much science, and that's where the comparison falls flat.

The other factor is technological change. Right now, robots are a better investment of your space research dollars than humans, but in the future, robots will be able to do more and more, and cost less and less. So the cost/benefit analysis will favor robots even more strongly than it currently does.

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214765)

So you're saying that a golf cart with a few scientific instruments on it can do more research than a base manned with scientists?

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215173)

no, but the several hundred, possibly thousand golf carts, and other motorised toys you could drop on every side of the planet for the same cost of sending a whole base, a team of scientists and then keeping them alive there, just might.

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215265)

but the several hundred, possibly thousand golf carts, and other motorised toys you could drop on every side of the planet

That sounds more like littering than exploration.

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216031)

It'd be a lot cheaper to set up a base manned with a bunch of golf carts and a couple of golf cart repair robots.

Re:Still more evidence... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214781)

Sure, but a man on Mars could do a whole lot more research a whole lot faster than this rover can.
 

Re:Still more evidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214915)

but it would take decades to get him there.

Re:Still more evidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214823)

Yeah, what's the point of putting intelligent life out there?

I'd rather have rocks anyday.

Discovery (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214581)

My dick is from Mars

Mars is wet? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214645)

Mars has a vagina?? OMG lolz

Martian walks into a bar (3, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214653)

A Martian walked into a bar, and ordered a glass of water.

Bartender said, "We're a bar, we just serve alcoholic drinks."

Martian said "Well, since I'm not an alchohol-based life form, could I just have a glass of water instead?"

And that, friends, is why Mars is Dry.

Re:Martian walks into a bar (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19214945)

Kill yourself. Do it now.

Hardly surprising ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214661)

It makes you wonder what else is still out there.

Well, I mean, you know ... it is a whole planet, after all.

No Proof Here. (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214693)

This isn't proof that there could be life on Mars. Can't you see that something this obvious must have been planted by the martians?

Oh, nevermind...

Let's hope we don't find actual life there (4, Interesting)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214721)

According to the Great Filter theory [gmu.edu], our chances of colonising other worlds before we go extinct would be diminished with every world we discover that contains life forms; and the higher evolved those life forms, the worse for us.

The theory in a nutshell: There are a handful of steps life must go through, to the best of our knowledge, before a rotating disk of star dust can bear intelligent life that colonizes space and thus ensures its survival. The reason why we don't see life everywhere around us is that one of these steps is so improbable or difficult that only very few, if any, aspiring colonizers of space make it past that crucial step and go extinct. The question is, are we, homo sapiens, already beyond this step? If we never find alien life, chances are we have passed this point. For every life form we do discover, the probability that we yet have to reach this point increases.

Re:Let's hope we don't find actual life there (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215663)

Why can't them be a lot of slightly rare steps? I think it is not that hard, since we can't even estimate the probabilities of most of them.

If so, we may have few hard steps at future. Or may have already passed through all of them.

Re:Let's hope we don't find actual life there (2, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216129)

> may have already passed through all of them.

Well, since we don't have any self-sustaining colonies off of the Earth, I'd say there is at least ONE difficult step we haven't passed yet.

Gee, what a consolation prize (1)

loqi (754476) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215881)

You really hope we're alone, just to "bolster our odds"? So it's eventual extinction and a chance to find life outside of our terrestrial family, or eternal life in a barren universe? I'll take mortality/company over immortality/solitude any day.

Re:Gee, what a consolation prize (4, Interesting)

Jerf (17166) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216215)

Bah, stop parroting nonsense and think for a bit. If humanity does survive another thousand years and spread across the stars with full mastery of genetics, biology, and technology, in nothing flat cultures will be so mutually alien in every way that it'll make Star Trek look like parochial, small-minded garbage, what with 100 little humanity clones running around.

If we do survive and thrive, diversity will be the least of our problems.

The old "loneliness of the stars" bit is as out of date as, well, Star Trek, as out of date as the idea that "crossing the stars" will be done in tin cans carefully coddling our meat sacks. That may have made sense to 1950s science, but it's obvious nonsense to anyone who uses 21st century science. It's going to be way stranger than Star Trek. You will pine for the days when it was as simple as Star Trek.

But where are ... (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214723)

the Leather Goddesses of Phobos?

Re:But where are ... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214993)

the Leather Goddesses of Phobos?

Well, I would hazard a guess that they're orbiting Mars on one of the two moons.

Re:But where are ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19215039)

But where are the Leather Goddesses of Phobos?

on Phobos.

duh.

Excerpt lacks details? (1)

the_enigma_1983 (742079) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214735)

Is it just me, or does the excerpt posted by Riding with Robots lack any sort of detail? It reads to me like "Hey, we found something important. Really important. Now come to our site to find out what". Surely it wouldn't be too hard to mention that they found a concentrated silica deposit, which would require water to create.

This is a remarkable discovery. (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#19214931)

It would have been more remarkable if it hadn't been about the 36th piece of evidence for water on Mars in the last couple of years.
And it still doesn't come close to competing with my `wet Earth` conjecture, either. I'm like *that* close to formal proof.

What more compelling evidence do you need? (0)

jpellino (202698) | more than 5 years ago | (#19215181)

I thought this whole thing was settled when Spirit snapped a picture of this... [foodservicedirect.com]

OK. Let's man a mission to mars (2, Funny)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215369)

All we have to do is tell the TSA that there may have been liquids on mars. NOW it's a homeland security issue.

European probe proved life likely in 2004 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19215411)

Hi Folks.
This "Life on Mars" is so funny !
A European probe closed the case years ago :
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/Pr_51_2004_p_EN.html [esa.int]
Not only there's water, but its presence is geographically correlated with methane.
i.e. great probability of life, to be found under the sand crust.
But national pride at the NASA is badly hurt and they'll make announcement over announcement to overshadow the truth.
It's just like the space station that has no other purpose than making us forget that every meaningful experiment was already done on MIR, over 20 years ago.

The space news have shifted.
Now, one should watch China re-using old soviet technology, Japan having its own vector...
And water found on exoplanets.
Life on mars....
It's SO has-been !

BTW, this rovers are just great !
Amazing !
I told you the electric car is the best ! /bm/

Everything on Mars is Boinga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19215571)

Apparently I've been watching too much Backyardigans with my son. Whenever I see an article on mars, that damned song pops in my head!

Finding new things is surprising? (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215577)

We still find new and interesting things here on Earth after a couple of million years of hominids running around. I fail to see how *anything* short of walking talking Martians would really be a shocker on Mars given how little we've covered of it.

Re:Finding new things is surprising? (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216305)

I fail to see how *anything* short of walking talking Martians would really be a shocker on Mars given how little we've covered of it.

Standby to be shocked! [google.com]

I'm no rocket scientist, but... (2, Interesting)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#19215911)

how do they know that this didn't come from some comet that happened to have a lot of silica in it? I mean, maybe they know it didn't, but let's say you've got a comet (lots of ice, some of it presumably water ice, and dirt) and it hits Mars and a chunk lands a few hundred feet away and spills silica all over the ground.

I mean, I'm not saying it's not Martian in origin, but it just doesn't seem like there's any question that it's Martian and I'm curious as to why. But of course, they ARE rocket scientists and geologists, so I suspect they've looked into this possibility.

Why so surprised (4, Insightful)

TekPolitik (147802) | more than 6 years ago | (#19216289)

I don't get why people keep being surprised that there's water on other planets. I would be surprised if there wasn't. With hydrogen and oxygen being two of the three most common elements in the universe with only helium in the middle, you have a simple compound made up of the two most abundant reactive elements in the universe. Given that hydrogen is so abundant, oxygen stands a good chance of finding hydrogen to bond with, and if it finds hydrogen it doesn't take much to get them to bond. Earth really isn't as special as people seem to want to make it out to be.
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"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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