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"Puddles" of Water Sighted on Mars

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the interstellar-jackpot dept.

Space 237

eldavojohn writes "Further reinforcing the theory of a wet Mars, NewScientist is reporting on what appear to be water puddles in newly taken images from the Mars rover. While these results are controversial, the assumption that these blue 'puddles' are water still has to be tested by engineers. They'll try to measure the uniform smoothness of the puddle surfaces. Analysis will also examine their apparent 'opaqueness', where in some areas observers claim to see pebbles underneath the surface of the blue areas. From the article: 'No signs of liquid water have been observed directly from cameras on the surface before. Reports last year pointed to the existence of gullies on crater walls where water appears to have flowed in the last few years, as shown in images taken from orbit, but those are short-lived flows, which are thought to have frozen over almost immediately.'"

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Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (5, Informative)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452293)

Direct link to image: http://space.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/d n12026/dn12026-2_250.jpg [newscientist.com]

Gotta say, can't think of what it could be besides water. On the other hand, aren't the images artificially colored?

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (3, Informative)

kshade (914666) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452325)

Yes they are. And water probably wouldn't look that blue ob the red planet ;)

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (2, Informative)

Scynet85 (933220) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452423)

Actually, the pancam isn't completely black-and-white: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/mission/spacecraft_inst ru_pancam.html [nasa.gov]

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (5, Informative)

MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453471)

To be more precise, the CCD in the pancam is black and white, but there are a variety of filter they can place in front of it. When they do a "true" color image they use a red, green, and blue filter and take three exposures. However the pretty "true" color images rarely support the science they are doing, so they may, for instance, shoot a picture in infrared, visable green, and UV because that best suits the science they are doing. Sometimes they arbitrarily assign colors to these frequencies of light and make a false color picture. Other times they take a picture of a color reference target attached to the rover using the same filter set they took the picture with. Since the computers on Earth "know" what colors are on the reference chart they can produce a close approximation of the colors in the scene. They photographed the reference chart with ALL of the available filters in a variety of lighting conditions, so they have a pretty good idea that the colors are reasonably accurate. So it would be useful to know if this picture was color corrected or if it is a false color image.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (1, Troll)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452481)

Water has a blue tint to it. While ponds wouldn't look blue, because the tint is so faint, oceans on Mars would be blue, even if the sky is red.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452579)

i thought that water is only blue because of the atmospheric refraction...

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (1)

Greg_D (138979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452933)

Stop drinking the Tidy-Bowl. Water has no tint of its own.

Re:Water has no tint of its own. (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453857)

Actually, this water does ... Pluto's pissed about being kicked out of the family of planets, and he's marking territory.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (2, Informative)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453877)

Water absorbs a little visible light in the 760nm region, making it faintly blue. Those small puddles in the picture, though, appear too blue for the apparent depth to be attributable to this blueness.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (3, Informative)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453945)

Here's a comprehensive range of responses from a wide selection of informed MER followers at UMSF [unmannedspaceflight.com] , ranging from "horsepucky" to "hogwash" via "ludicrous" and "bunk". I'll take UMSF over New Scientist any day.

Sad really, as skipping PE every week when I found that enabled me to skive off to the school library and read the NS (along with the other NS, assorted leftie rags of the 80s, oh and some books) was one of the things that really got me interested in Mars in the first place - that and a big coffee-table atlas with gorgeous repros of Viking Orbiter images of landscapes with obviously terrestrial analogues.

Why oceans are blue (0)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452617)

Lakes and oceans look blue on earth mostly because they reflect our blue sky. On Mars the sky is black and/or dusty.

I have a hard time imagining where the blueness on this picture comes from if it's not digitally added.

Re:Why oceans are blue (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452789)

Actually, the Martian sky frequently has a pinkish hue due to the large quantities of suspended dust grains. If you live anywhere that has wildfires (like SoCal) think of what it's like when the air is full of smoke.

Re:Why oceans are blue (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452795)

That is an urban myth. The oceans are blue because pure water is very slightly blue [lsbu.ac.uk] . In large quantities, like lakes or oceans, the blue comes out. If it was just due to the reflection of the sky then large bodies of water would by white on overcast days.

Re:Why oceans are blue (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453077)

In large quantities, like lakes or oceans, the blue comes out. If it was just due to the reflection of the sky then large bodies of water would by white on overcast days.

As a matter of fact, the ocean looks gray on an overcast day. In other words, it's the same color as the sky.

You're confused. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453333)

My red baseball cap looks black in the dark. Does that mean it's not really red? No, of course not. It just means there's not enough light for the color to be seen.

Likewise on overcast days there is not enough light for the blue of the ocean to reveal itself. If you were correct and the ocean was just reflecting the gray of the clouds, it would appear white on many overcast days (when the clouds are white), but it does not.

Re:Why oceans are blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453337)

As a matter of fact, the ocean looks gray on an overcast day. In other words, it's the same color as the sky.

Large indoor swimming pools also have a slightly blue tint.

Re:Why oceans are blue (1)

MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453501)

This is true. Glass is also slightly green. Looks transparent when you look from the front, but look into a thick pane of glass from the edge and it's green. Just gotta stack enough of it up to notice. Nothing is perfectly transparent.

Re:Why oceans are blue (2, Interesting)

MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453541)

This is consistent with the picture. Depending on the filter they took the picture with, it might look VERY blue. They commonly represent the image obtained from the UV filter as "blue" when they want to produce a color image from the pancam, but have not used the true blue filter in the image set. Give the absorption spectrum, that would make it look bluer than usual because water absorbs UV even better than blue. Notice that the lowest point of that graph is just outside the visible range to the left of blue. That's UV.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (3, Interesting)

Darkfred (245270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453889)

Here is a picture of it in its original b&w glory from another angle.
With the rover driving over that area.

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/n/285 /1N153484776EFF37MIP0757R0M1.JPG [nasa.gov]

It does look a lot like track prints in mud.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (1)

chanrobi (944359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452427)

Gotta say, can't think of what it could be besides water.

The smoothness and transparency of the features could suggest either water or very clear ice, Levin says. "The surface is incredibly smooth, and the edges are in a plane and all at the same altitude," he says. "If they were ice or some other material, they'd show wear and tear over the surface, there would be rubble or sand or something."
Karma whoring? Check

Didn't RTFA? Check

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452667)

Karma is so easy. Why whore it? No one would whore around for pennies? Air? I think I might write a script that will try to gain Karma for me. Candidate rules would include:

1) Use proper html to make lists.

2) Do a google/wikipedia search for the Nouns in TFA and link those into the page.

3) If its a science article use Google Scholar, and use citations.

4)Don't post first, but do post near the top, anytime a noun is close to your topic withing a semantic network dog->mammal->cat.

5) use joke repository indexed by subject and post when subject matches..

Profit.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (4, Interesting)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452503)

Yes, they're colored, and lots of things don't look quite normal under the lighting conditions on Mars. Right off the bat I have a lot of reservations about this work.

1. His analysis method is based on stereoscopic image reconstructions of a height field. His claim essentially seems that there was no solution everywhere the picture was blue, so it must be flat. Unfortunately, this technique is pretty lousy for extracting height fields. It's noisy, and contrast issues cause it to fail frequently (I know, I've done it myself).

2. He has no spectral data or any other data to back up his claim. Granted, he's a Lockheed engineer and may not have access. But I have a hard time believing the vast team of scientists analyzing the data overlooked something so obvious.

3. And finally there's Mr. Levin's history of publishing rather dubious claims regarding water on Mars in the Proceedings of the SPIE but never once a full paper in a peer-reviewed journal that covers planetary science. Not that I want to make a personal attack, but this isn't the first time he's made a dubious claim that was never verified.

So, while it's intriguing and might be worth a second look, I'm still firmly in the skeptic category on this one.

two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453067)

alien piss

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453143)

I agree that the images are artificially colored. The liquid looks more like liquid C02 runoff from the underground Katari reactor installed in that region 50,000 years ago by the Zebnor tribe. It should be clear, not bluish in color...

Ice, Ice, baby. (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453907)

Looks like ice to me. The lighter strip along the edge of the left "fork" looks similar to the microfracturing that happens when ice on the surface of a puddle expands and pushes against a steep edge. And in the middle of the photo (the right "fork"), the angular darker lines look like stress lines, also caused by ice expanding as it freezes.

Re:Well, admittedly, the image is interesting... (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19454159)

Gotta say, can't think of what it could be besides water. On the other hand, aren't the images artificially colored?

Shoot, it does look like water, a flowing river even, which reflects the blue sky and clouds on Mars.
Which it doesn't have.

Also: "Puddles of Water Sighted on Mars". Damn it, Slashdot! What's wrong with that article title? Tell me.

You forgot the damn question mark is what it is! How many times do I have to repeat: when posting dubious speculative claims that are most likely false, never forget the damn question mark!!!

As about water on Mars, if anyone's so interested, there you go [leoprieto.com] . Hope you're happy.

Slashdot users... (0, Flamebait)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452297)

Seriously, fuck you guys.

.|.

Stop it scientists (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452307)

You're making Dan Quayle [quotationspage.com] look good!

Re:Stop it scientists (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453313)

My God!!! Someone IS dumber than Bush!!

Goatse sighted here! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452311)

Re:Goatse sighted here! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452337)

Warning. Warning. Danger. Danger. Warning. Warning.
Loser sighted. Loser sighted.
Warning. Warning. Danger. Danger. Warning. Warning.

I had a great shag last night ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452385)

... with your mom.

That's nothing (5, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452361)

We have puddles of water right here.

Re:That's nothing (1)

newnerdyuser (191770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452431)

I'm sure there is water there too, I'm also sure it's water we have taken there, non indigenous.

Re:That's nothing (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452517)

Why oh why, would we take water to Mars? There is no one there to drink it.

Re:That's nothing (1)

newnerdyuser (191770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452603)

Not deliberately, but our space vehicles were made on a water soaked planet, somehow some water went along for the ride, no matter how small, it's still water. If you don't believe me, go up and check.

Re:That's nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453031)

Call him a no one? You will make http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_the_Martian [wikipedia.org] verry verry angry.

Re:That's nothing (4, Funny)

naoursla (99850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452593)

Whoa! How did you get on Mars, dude?

Re:That's nothing (1)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453807)

Fellow Oregonian?

Looks like they drove right over top of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452369)

Is there some kind of delay in processing the images?

Why didn't they just stop and turn on the spectrometer?

And in interplanetary news ... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452377)

... the water system in Mars' Endurance Crater was polluted today by a leak in the rover Opportunity's RAT tool hydraulic system today. NASA scientists were quoted as saying "D'oh! Better luck next time". In other news, the inanimate carbon rod was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel today ...

Mirage (3, Funny)

rezac (733345) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452381)

Even the Mars rovers are starting to see mirages after 3 years on a desert planet.

Can't be (2, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452399)

Isn't the Mars Rover in an area where there couldn't be free flowing water? Last I checked the temperature and pressure were far from the conditions needed for liquid water to flow freely on a surface.

And as someone mentioned earlier the images are artificially colored. It's probably just a mineral deposit or something.

Re:Can't be (2, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452441)

If it is water, then perhaps there is something present that has increased the surface tension of the water.
According to this article [ucalgary.ca]

Certain inorganic salts (called strong electrolytes) that readily dissolve and completely dissociate into their separate ions in water can raise the surface tension by modest amounts. For example a 10.5 mass percent solution of sodium chloride in water will have a surface tension that is raised by about 3.3 mN/m from the pure water level (at room temperature). That is, the surface tension goes from about 73 to about 76 mN/m. Some organic solutes can have a similar effect (sucrose, for example). There is also some evidence that some kinds of highly charged particles, when well dispersed, can raise the effective surface tension.

Re:Can't be (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452449)

the articles discusses this issue, fucktard. why don't you read the fucking article instead of making a complete ass of yourself? why do you try to come off as insightful when you can't even be bothered to read the opinions of scientists who actually work in this area instead of a pizza boy, junior college drop out like yourself?

go shove a fist up your ass, it's as close to enlightenment as you'll ever come, fucking fucktard asshole. learn to fucking read instead of drawing stupid fucktard faggot assumptions.

fucking shithead.

WTF? (2, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452401)

Why did the image in the article have an enlarge feature? They made it about a whole 2% larger. I feel ripped off by shit like that on the web.

In any case, this is an interesting find.

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

armando_wall (714879) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452439)

"They made it about a whole 2% larger. I feel ripped off by shit like that on the web."

Are we still talking about images here?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453993)

That could be the funniest comment in www history... Been a long time since I spit Coke all over the monitor.

Arghhh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452437)

Consarn it! Enough of the bloody "Water on Mars?" stories already! Unless someone at NASA actually drinks some of that water to make sure it's real, I don't want to hear about it!

Drinking Martian Water (2, Funny)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453017)

Drinking Martian water is not something to be done without careful consideration... Martians place a very high value on the sharing of water. If you're going to do it, you mustn't do it without understanding the full implications of doing so - the cultural significance and the implicit promises that accompany water ritual.

May you never thirst...

Re:Drinking Martian Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453347)

I don't grok, what are you talking about?

Right, be a team player! (1, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452445)

Come on you scientist nerds. Keep examining photographs until you find a face -- no, water. That's it, we must find images that match our preconcieved notion of what it'll take to get a bigger budget, more subordinates, etc.

Re:Right, be a team player! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452539)

And I suppose you would rather have the money go somewhere more "useful", like religion or war?

Beside helping feed the sick and hungry, this is the best way to spend money, science.

Fuck no. (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453387)

Well, sadly, war is often useful, but anyway...

How about landers on Venus, Mercury, or any of the dozen interesting moons around Jupiter and Saturn? How about trying the Mars Polar Lander again, getting it right this time, so that we can study the frost?

We might learn quite a bit if we did any of that. But no. We go back to the SAME DAMN PLACE. It's familiar and easy.

Really, we don't get good science payback from YET ANOTHER toy driving around on the warmer/flatter part of Mars. Exploring is about going to NEW places. Going back to the same place, when there are reachable unexplored places remaining, is only excusable after a couple decades of technology advancement.

Re:Fuck no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453597)

How about landers on Venus, Mercury, or any of the dozen interesting moons around Jupiter and Saturn?


Materials science has not been able to produce materials that would survive long enough to make a viable lander in the conditions on Venus or Mercury. Additional funding would help.

Jupiter and Saturn's moons? I'm all for it.

Re:Right, be a team player! (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452569)

If only we had given them an extra billion dollars to add a pebble throwing arm we'd know for sure if it was water.

If humanity is destroyed by some comet a couple of years before terraforming of mars is far enough along to be habitable, then my great-great-great-grandchildren and/or clones are going to be pissed.

Troll? (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453743)

Whoever keeps marking people as troll is indeed a troll themself.

bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452455)

Levin is the son of the Levin loonie who has been insisting since the 70's that the Viking landers found life. NOT an objective person. And the photos are obvious bull.

JPL's original pictures (5, Informative)

mrcgran (1002503) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452473)

It seems that the colored composite picture [newscientist.com] shown in newscientist's article [newscientist.com] was derived from these [nasa.gov] two [nasa.gov] original left-right pictures from Opportunity's navigation cameras on day 285 [nasa.gov] . There are many more similar pictures around day 285, with these flat paths around the flat stones. In the 'Burns Cliff' Color Panorama [nasa.gov] (high res) [nasa.gov] , the newscientist's image is just a fraction of the cliff: it's in its very center, where you can see a V and the steepness of where it is located.

1) The surface just seems a bit too steep to me to accumulate any liquid water in such amounts for a pond, since it's facing up the border of the crater in the original pictures. The rover was taking the picture from the bottom up, so also the material wasn't in the lowest part of the terrain.

2) In the original JPL's pictures, you can see the same 'watery' material all way up to the border of the crater: it's distinctly darker. In the panorama [nasa.gov] , it's interesting to note that it doesn't go all the way down to the bottom of the crater, where you can see a brighter dust covering everything.

Does this darkness means humidity? I fail to see streaming water, maybe flat thin ice sheets from a humid surface but this seems to be explicitely discarded when the author says that "If they were ice or some other material, they'd show wear and tear over the surface, there would be rubble or sand or something." (btw, sand on this steep cliff?) A very thin dark powdery sand looks more likely, but someone needs to go there and poke it to be sure. Any ideas about this? I'm unable to find the original paper to have a look at it.

Can anyone explain how they came up with the bluish hue in the composite picture, since the original pictures do not seem to have any filter information? (the 25th character in their names is 0 instead of some specific filter frequency [nasa.gov] )

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452665)

Can anyone explain how they came up with the bluish hue in the composite picture

Photoshop(tm)??

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

Weeg (1113503) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452677)

There is a series of images from the Panoramic camera on Sol 290 which closely match Levin's image, including this one [nasa.gov] . These do have filters on them, but I think Levin has his own ideas about Martian colors.

Re:JPL's original pictures (2, Informative)

Weeg (1113503) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452787)

I meant to add: There are more shots of the same scene on the Sol 279 [nasa.gov] page. These are from a different angle, and if you cook up a way to view stereoscopic pairs ( I used MS Paint ) you can see that the "water" surfaces are far from flat, as well as being inclined, of course. Try this left [nasa.gov] and right [nasa.gov] pair, which shows the top part of Levin's image viewed from the right side. The horizontal blue portion of Levin's "puddle" on the upper right is seen to have significant relief in this pair. You can actually see this by looking back and forth between the left and right images of the pair, if you don't feel like going to the effort of stereo viewing.

Re:JPL's original pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453303)

It looks like running water to me (or at least some form of liquid)

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452877)

People tend to ignore it as a consideration, but we'd be very wise to include within the range of possibilities that this is a fulgarite-type of material. The Martian blueberries, the Martian spiders, the cleansing of the rover solar panels and the apparent enigmatic fields of geysers that appear at Mars' South Pole can all be explained by various electrical explanations in addition to the ideas that have been proposed so far. We've seen quite clearly dust devils burn the surface of the planet with luminous lightning bolt cores. We've seen that leading and trailing edges of massive dust storms consist of filamentary "streamers" (ie, armies of dust devils). We can create Martian blueberries and domed Martian craters using nothing more than a plasma gun within the laboratory (see CJ Ransom's work).

This past week, I witnessed a very simple demonstration of Martian Spiders by an amateur scientist (Zane Parker) that involved nothing more than an old CRT monitor, fiberglass dust and a human finger. By spreading fiberglass dust upon this charged surface, it is possible to create Lichtenberg-like figures that precisely mimic the primary features of Martian Spiders. This paper has been submitted to IEEE for consideration, but it remains to be seen if it will be accepted.

It is my personal belief that NASA scientists have made a huge mistake in brushing aside arguments for large amounts of electrical terra-forming on Mars. Many of the observations that superficially appear to support the notion of water on Mars' non-polar regions can also be explained in electrical terms. Scientists investigating these phenomenon would be very wise to read and consider the interpretations found in the Picture of the Day Archives at www.thunderbolts.info. Just because these explanations are less popular than those involving water does not require that they are so wrong that they should not be considered as a possibility. Anybody who fully investigates the science behind plasmas and the features of Mars will quite clearly see that the Thunderbolts crew's explanations may possibly have merit. It's very unfortunate that people have allowed themselves to ignore the fact that these people have had some success (where others have clearly failed) in duplicating these features within the laboratory.

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

DrunkenTerror (561616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453233)

Crank.

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

Ranger (1783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453087)

The original pictures do look like they are on a slope and it does look like sediment in them. Plain water can't stay liquid for very long at Mar's near vacuum. So the question is what water solutions can stay liquid at that temperature and pressure and for how long? Mars is by no means wet. It is mostly dry, but that doesn't mean it's not damp in spots.

Looking at the very hi-res version of the panorama [nasa.gov] reminds me of damp soil. If it were shallow liquid the shadows would look different in them I think. There are a few spots that looks like a thin layer of water flowing across sand, but that's what my experiences tell me, so it doesn't necessarily translate into Mars geology, er areology.

It'll be interesting what the explanation turns out be. I would start of with the assumption that it's an artifact of the photo manipulation, and that we'd like it be a water solution of some sort. Then we must do what we can to eliminate our prejudices and artifacts to get to the real story. Whatever it really is will be far more surprising than we can imagine.

Re:JPL's original pictures (2, Interesting)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19454015)

Plain water can't stay liquid for very long at Mar's near vacuum. So the question is what water solutions can stay liquid at that temperature and pressure and for how long?

The triple point of water is around 0.01 C and 0.006 atm, which tells you that even plain water can be liquid at surface conditions that can exist on Mars. Salt solutions can exist in liquid form over a much wider range of conditions.

See also here:

http://mars.spherix.com/spie2/spie98.htm [spherix.com]

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

sabernet (751826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453627)

looking at those two left and right camera pics, it doesn't even look like water if viewed stereoscopically. It may look a bit like wet sand, but definitely not water 'puddles'.

Re:JPL's original pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453961)

What are all those round green balls everywhere on the burns cliff high res image? They seem to be attached to the the stones, evenly spread out? Reminds me of some earth based life forms that attatch themselves to stones. Strange but I supposed there is a reasonable explaination for them?

Re:JPL's original pictures (1)

solitas (916005) | more than 7 years ago | (#19454195)

STFU Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452497)

I'm sure there have been over 100 front-page articles on Slashdot claiming that water has been found on another planet. Yet somehow...water has still not ever been found on any other planet. Editors-- please note that no one likes the bullshit headlines, and they don't make us want to read /.

If an article deserves to be front-paged, it will stand on its own merit, without needing to sensationalize and LIE.

Re:STFU Editors (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452581)

Maybe, in the future, human physiology could be altered to allow Mars explorers to subsist on water which has a 25% chance of being water. Obviously, those explorers would need to consume four times as much of this water.

Re:STFU Editors (0)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453241)

There already is a breed of humans like that. They're called "Americans", with the substance being Budweiser. ;)

not flat, part of Burns Cliff (4, Informative)

J05H (5625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452499)

MarsRoverBlog.com is discussing it, this isn't a flat area, but on a 20-30 degree slope. It is part of Burns Cliff in Endurance Crater.There is plenty of evidence for water on Mars, just not in these images. There is evidence of something other than dust, probably water seepage from underground, at Meridiani and Gusev. Orbital images have shown water in the polar caps and probably a frozen sea in Elysium. There are what appear to be ponds and flowing rivers in some images, especially the first Mars Express image released a while ago.

http://www.marsroverblog.com/discuss-mars-rover-fi nds-puddles-on-the-planets-surface.html [marsroverblog.com]

This "puddle" however, doesn't stand the test.

the burden of proof (2, Insightful)

bwy (726112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452687)

The burden of truth typically lies with the person asserting the positive. However, in this case it would be interesting and useful to hear other explanations for this photo, because it *does* appear to reveal something of interest.

Is there any experimental validation? (1)

sonikbeach (939185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452753)

The article states "Levin and other researchers... have published calculations showing the possibility of 'micro-environments' where water could linger, but the idea remains controversial". Has anyone ever produced such a 'micro-environment' in a lab, and then tried to store water in it?

What the heck is a micro-environment, anyway? Am I being too cynical in thinking that it's an environment, just with a sexed-up name?

Re:Is there any experimental validation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453141)

What the heck is a micro-environment, anyway? Am I being too cynical in thinking that it's an environment, just with a sexed-up name?

A micro-environment is just like the corner of your bedroom in the environment of the rest of your bedroom and your house or apartment building. It can have unique conditions compared to the rest of your habitat. It's a very small part of the whole.

It just might be a sexed-up term when using it to describe conditions on Mars, but when attached to a Slashdotter's bedroom... Well, it breaks the metaphor badly there.

Much Better Image (5, Informative)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19452801)

Re:Much Better Image (1)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453567)

Thanks for the link - after doing the cross-eyed thing (I left my anaglyph glasses at home, with my old SI Swimsuit Issue...), the resulting image clearly looks like a greyish silt, as mentioned by others (uh-why do I have two keyboards?).

'opaqueness'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452919)

Opacity. HTH.

No surprises this year... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19452935)

The picture of the puddle is similar to something Ive seen on Richard Hoaglands site, some time ago... I just cant find it at the moment.. But Ive seen the blue puddle well over a year ago...

This definitely looks like mud... http://www.enterprisemission.com/_articles/04-13-2 004_Methane_on_Mars/Laney-Magic%20Carpet.jpg [enterprisemission.com]

And on the flows from the walls of craters... this was seen years ago:
"Reports last year pointed to the existence of gullies on crater walls..."

Try reports from 07/19/2000:
http://www.enterprisemission.com/press-water.html [enterprisemission.com]

Sure Hoagland claims the end of the world every so often..... Take the good with the bad. He was so right about current water on mars, long before NASA would publicly state anything like him.

Can't they tell? (1)

khendron (225184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453009)

Does anybody else find it odd that they can't tell whether or not this is water? I mean, were they so positive that they wouldn't find water on Mars that they didn't include any way of testing for it?

Re:Can't they tell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453325)

Uhhhh, yes. I do find that odd...

Not this again (5, Informative)

orangepeel (114557) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453019)

Am I really the only one here who actually played in the dirt as a kid?

Originally an outwash plain during the final ablation phase of a glacier, the 5+ wild acres I grew up on as a kid had a variety of clay, soil, and silt types. This "OMG, there's water on Mars!" reaction has come up at least once before here on Slashdot, after someone posted a link to a photograph that showed dark plumes spilling down a small incline. Some of the reactions here depressed me back then too. Have so many people really become so disconnected from the earth that they can't recognize ultra-fine silt when they see it?

Ok, so fine ... let's assume you don't have first hand experience with how liquid-like dry silt can be. Just today I read an article on Nasa's site [nasa.gov] that got me thinking about this topic. It's about how one of the rovers has again had its solar panels cleaned off by wind. If Martian winds can pull that trick off, clearly wind erosion must be ongoing on Mars, and has been going on for what, BILLIONS of years? Now...

without any liquid water...
without any biological activity...
without any volcanic activity...

...but with that wind erosion, what would be the lowest limit for particle size on the Martian surface?

Let me put this another way: there has been an erosional force running on that planet for a billion plus years, to this day, and no force (at least on the surface) is present to conglomerate or cement those particles back together. This, to me, means that all surface particles must be being eroded down to some lower limit in silt particle size. I bet there's all kinds of weird and wonderful physics going on down at that level, but I'm digressing.

Folks, as apparently the only person here on Slashdot who's ever played with dry silt, I have some sad news for you: I would be shocked if there weren't patches around that didn't look a heck of a lot like liquid.

Here's another story to contemplate: do you remember when one of the Mars rover's got stuck? The NASA engineers went off to the hardware store to recreate the soil conditions, and picked up things like dry cement powder and diatomaceous earth. And you have to remember that Mars' gravity is what, 1/3 that of Earths? Come on kids ... it's nice to dream and all, but what we're dealing with here -- again, at least on the surface -- is one very dry surface that has a heck of a lot of ultra-fine silt lying around in a low gravity environment.

Mars: where a dry surface flows like water.

cant be water (4, Insightful)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453043)

ok, i'm no trained profesional in hydrophysics, but where i'm from, water obeys the laws of gravity. if you look closely at that picture, you see what is claimed to be "water" in a configuration that it could not hold, and/or would not end up in on any surface. especialy a sloped one. (short runs both up and down the "slope" and runs in oposite direction of what apears to be "primary flow" it looks like extermely fine blown sand to me. blown sand on rock.

Is it cold on Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453055)

It's cold on Mars. Ergo, the puddles are full of FOSTY PISS!

Definitive proof (2, Funny)

Asgerix (1035824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453213)

Why are they still arguing about the existense of water on Mars?
Definitive proof [nasa.gov] was found long ago!

great (1, Funny)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453279)

add re-plumbing to colonization cost

This looks really lame (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453385)

If you look at the colored pic next to the original black and white, it looks like someone was just bored in Gimp and did some coloring. The whole side-hill in the blacknwhite pic must be water if the colored pic is true.

http://img370.imageshack.us/img370/6572/39317433nj 5.jpg [imageshack.us]

If... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453447)

...a democrat were in office, we would already have people up there anyway, it's only because of Mr. Stupid there and all the money we're spending on his war that we don't have money for more important things for humanity

Yay! Another ad for NewScientist! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453459)

God dammit, what a load of populist crap that site is. They should not be allowed to use the word scientist in their name. Their content is far from science. I guess someone at slashdot is getting paid well for the proliferation of links to that site.

Re:Yay! Another ad for NewScientist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453709)

It's zonk, what do you expect? Look on the bright side at least it's not Piquepaille.

Those aren't puddles... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453481)

They're canals!

We've known about the Martian canals for decades!

This is news?

FLXp cock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453573)

user5 of NetBSD

Contradictory Statements? (1)

eyebits (649032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453701)

In one place it says, "...the Mars atmosphere is essentially a vacuum..." In another place it says, "The problem is, there are winds on Mars..." If it is essentially a vacuum, what is the composition of the wind?

budweiser on mars? (1)

freeasinrealale (928218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453745)

looks like American beer. Wet cold and flat.

Re:budweiser on mars? (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453803)

but tastes like a Heineken

Not on Space.com (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19453755)

If its not on Space.com then its not real space news. This false color photograph is showing something but its not water.

life forms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19453899)

What are all those round green balls everywhere, attached to the the stones, evenly spread out? Reminds me of some earth based life forms that attatch themselves to stones. Strange but I supposed there is a reasonable explaination for them?

but (1)

pwntang (902080) | more than 7 years ago | (#19454105)

but do they have any oil?
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