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NASA Mars Space

NASA Finds Evidence of Recent Flowing Water on Mars 238

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the some-bound-to-claim-theory-is-all-wet dept.
SonicSpike writes to mention that Scientists are claiming that they have evidence of water flowing on Mars within the last five years. From the article: "Subsurface aquifers or melting ground ice were floated as possible sources of the water. One of the springs even appears at a fault line, according to Malin, just as they often do on Earth. The shortness of the gulleys, which seem to flow for but a few hundred yards, might be accounted for by a process similar to a volcano's eruption on Earth, with water instead of magma building up underground, and ice, instead of fire, characterizing the resulting flow."
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NASA Finds Evidence of Recent Flowing Water on Mars

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  • I bet.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xx01dk (191137)
    they are going to be looking at a lot of before / after pictures now. I'm looking forward to as well. Very interesting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:14PM (#17136614)
    Keep your pants on:

    "Nothing in the images, no matter how cool they are, proves that the flows were wet, or that they were anything more exciting than avalanches of sand and dust," Allan Treiman, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston said in an e-mail.

    nuff said.

    Get your ass to Mars

    • Yesterday on Technocrat there was an announcement [technocrat.net] about the upcoming NASA press conference. NASA has kept nerds in suspense for utterly minor announcements before, so I wasn't expecting much from the announcement. Indeed, anything as important as the discovery of life (or, rather, the discovery of fossils of life) would probably have leaked out before and be all over the news.

      But this announcement is cool because it means that Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] , undoubtedly the most i

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      True. Alternatives are *possible*. However, the trick is, the deposits do look different from other, known deposits produced by dust avalanches elsewhere on Mars, and, furthermore, the erosive channel systems above the deposits look consistent with a water interpretation and seepage from underground, rather than a "dry debris flow" interpretation (e.g., the channels converge at the top in tributary systems and meander towards the bottom on lower slopes, which is more characteristic of fluids than dry flow
    • by Chelloveck (14643) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @06:31PM (#17137940) Homepage
      "Nothing in the images, no matter how cool they are, proves that the flows were wet, or that they were anything more exciting than avalanches of sand and dust," Allan Treiman, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston said in an e-mail.

      Well, yes, but according to the scientists at the press conference all disturbances of the martian soil so far have shown up as darker than the undisturbed soil, not lighter as these images show. Also, the shapes of the light spots are more consistent with those a relatively thick muddy liquid would make than with what you'd see in a landslide. They did allow that yes, these images could be showing some previously unseen dry phenomenon, but that the shapes and color are both indicative of liquid.

  • Oops. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560)
    Um, that wasn't water. I had had a lot of juice earlier, and there wasn't a gas station or anything to be found... sorry about that.
  • by StarKruzr (74642)
    Not just scientists, but Scientists with a capital S!

    This looks like the real deal. It appears that it's being reported everywhere; CNN, etc. When I saw the original article I was slightly skeptical, but NASA ain't screwing around, it appears.
  • by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:17PM (#17136678) Homepage Journal
    It would be cool if NASA could keep a few micro-probes in reserve in Mars orbit that could be de-orbited as needed to investigate these kinds of phenomenon as they are discovered. Nothing large and complicated like a rover, just a very hi-resolution camera and some very basic devices to measure the local environment. The real trick would be getting pinpoint accuracy on the landing. To save weight and increase simplicity they need not even be designed to survive landing, just to deliver a high speed data squirt to an orbiter as they collect the most relevant and valuable data on their way down by parachute. If they do survive the landing they only need enough power to last long enough to send a few more surface condition measurements -- again the emphasis on cheap and expendable.

    At the other end of the scale we need to develop landers that can investigate hard to get to locations like the very bottom of Valles Marineris. I assume this is where what little atmosphere there is would be the most dense, warm, and possibly moist. This would also be the most sheltered location on Mars from all forms of ionizing radiation.
  • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:18PM (#17136692)
    In related news, Starbucks announced it is booking passage on the next flight to the Red Planet. "This enables us to continue our mission of providing coffee to the races of the solar system," said its CEO. "I look forward to asking our first Martian customer, 'Would you like a double mocha latte, Mr. Xzart'FooKniznak?'
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CRCulver (715279)

      Reminds me of Conan O'Brien's "In the Year 2000" skit where he foretells:

      In the year 2000, McDonald's will be forced to close its restaurant on Mars, due to the high cost of shipping acne to its workers.

  • coast 2 coast (Score:3, Informative)

    by deft (253558) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:20PM (#17136726) Homepage
    Richard Hoagland (sp?) was talking about this last night on coast 2 coast... the radio show normally infested with funny alien abductees and anal probe recipients.

    He apparently had seen this stuff in mars rover pictures and predicted it.... guess nasa has finally came to the same conclusion.

    I bet they were just more thorough or cautious in their analysis before declaring anything.
    • Re: (sp?) (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You, in fact, did spell his name incorrectly. The correct spelling of his name is as follows:

      W-h-a-c-k J-o-b

      • No kidding!!! If i hear him say "hyper-dimensional" one more time, I'm going to kick HIS ass to Mars.

        He's a nut... But on a more serious note, he's just some public has-been seeking to recapture the lime-light he once had in the past. In any case, it's sad to see someone's reputation degraded to that of nut. He has no one to blame but himself.
    • by dr_dank (472072) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:44PM (#17137162) Homepage Journal
      He apparently had seen this stuff in mars rover pictures and predicted it.... guess nasa has finally came to the same conclusion.

      Actually, the water is really the face on Mars [nasa.gov] crying.

      Probably because of something you did.
    • I bet they were just more thorough or cautious in their analysis before declaring anything.

      NASA is more cautious than anal-probe radio-show guy?

      What a bunch of pansies! That's no way to do science.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)
      The possibility of water on Mars was confirmed in 1971 when Mariner 9 discovered ancient river valleys at several places on the planet. Since then, the conjecture was always how long ago did Mars have liquid water on the surface of the planet.
    • To find out more about this crackpot, check out Bad Astronomy [badastronomy.com]
  • by moehoward (668736) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:21PM (#17136750)

    For water to flow, it has to have gotten to the source of the flow first. So, there has to be a mechanism for transport back to the source of the flow. Like rain moves water on Earth back to higher ground. The article offers no speculation on this transport mechanism. I would, of course, suspect evaporation and then dew/frost. But, that would be picked up easily from our probes and even from Earth-based observation.

    What am I missing here?
  • Move over... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BinarySkies (920189)
    Move over, Dasani, Poland Spring, and Evian... Here comes Lunar Liquid!
  • Funny (Score:3, Interesting)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:23PM (#17136812)
    There's been pictures indicating recent water flowing for years. Guess the evidence got overwhelming. There's been also strong evidence of seasonal darkening as if the ground was damp during summer months. I found a camera shot years ago that showed the ground next to the rover that seemed to show a patch of water maybe the size of your palm. The ground around that was dark. NASA definately suffers from dogma. The current dogma had been for a dry Mars. Just glad they are surrendering finally and accepting the evidence. Given the resistence to change I think it'll take samples brought back from Mars to prove life. There was evidence as far back as Viking but still no missions looking for direct signs of life. I'd love to see that resolved during my lifetime but I have my doubts. It may have to wait for the manned mission and even then there'll be debate for years if something is found if NASA brought it there themselves.
    • Re:Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:32PM (#17136964)
      I don't think NASA suffered from Dogma - more of an abundance of caution. Even know, I don't know how they can tell that the structures seen in the pictures are actual water, and not just sand that behaves similarly to a liquid.

      Personally, I'll believe the H2O theory when someone actually pokes one of those areas, and they find water in either ice or liquid form.
      • I'd say they're just being overly cautious. Announcing the discovery of water on Mars is big news. Having to retract that and say, "Oh, nope, it's just...really odd dust." would really suck from a PR perspective. Better to say, "Well, we might have water, but we're not positive." right up until a probe goes and picks some up in a sippy-cup and sends it back home.
    • by GreggBz (777373)

      NASA definitely suffers from dogma. The current dogma had been for a dry Mars.

      This, of course, is why the focus of every recent mission has been to find the water they suspect exists??!!?

      I'm not sure they support either a "dry Mars" or a wet one. It seems to me, they support good science, or at least try to in this instant gratification, pseudo-scientific alien abduction craving society. You don't publish your theory until there is damn good evidence to support it.

      Newton really was [wikipedia.org] wrong about physics, ev

    • The difference here is the definition of "recent". There is evidence of tens of thousands of gullys that have evidence of flowing water, for the *geological* definition of recent. In the sense that "It is obvious what happened here, this is what it looks like after water flows across the surface". "Recent" to a geologist means "within the last million years".

      In this instance, we actually have photographic evidence, with one picture in 2001 and another in 2005 showing an actual change over the course of y
  • Not 100% (Score:5, Informative)

    by silentounce (1004459) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:25PM (#17136832) Homepage
    Not all scientists are convinced that it was actually water.
     
    "Many scientists believe the gullies were carved by liquid water, although others have argued they are due to avalanches of carbon dioxide gas or rivers of dust," from The New Scientist [newscientist.com].
     
      Also, here [nasa.gov] is the NASA release from their site.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:25PM (#17136852) Homepage Journal
    If you look at the high res images (from NASA here [nasa.gov])
    You can see the flow emerges from the side of an impact crater.
    The water was most likely locked underground (as expected by the briney moist soil effect the rovers noticed just under the surface)

    Its like diggign a hole in the sand at the beach, eventually water will start to seep in.
  • If they have found water on Mars this could send the price of water down.
  • What's that white stuff around the crater's rim? Is that just a trick of the light? If it's not could whatever it is be the same material as the 'flow?' It has a similar intensity to the light-colored 'flow.'
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:36PM (#17137050)
    "Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen that means we can breathe." -- Dan Quayle, 8/11/89
  • Would you buy water from mars at $10,000 a litre? If the rich and famous spend thousands on a diamond encrusted mobile phone, would they spend that sort of figure on a bottle of space pop [marshydro.com]?
    • Forget not the special plumbing you'll need to handle the resulting "space wiz."

      "Remember folks, when you drink Olympus Ale, the special Martian molecules must be processed by our extra special Deimosian Commode, yours for only $85,000. Also try our Baldet Bidet, made from 75% Baldet Crater clay, pumping fresh streams of Martian Melt for your refreshment."

  • by olden (772043) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:57PM (#17137400)
    A photo that Nasa published over a year ago already unquestionably demonstrated the existence of water on Mars, see http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050401.html [nasa.gov]
    (And if you're still not convinced you can even try this at home...)
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @06:01PM (#17137464) Homepage
    This sounds like every party, ever.

    "Aw man, I can't believe you left our chess club bash last night. FIVE MINUTES after you left, the entire cheerleader squad stumbled in and started making some unconventional moves with the bishops!"

    "Dude, you JUST missed it. The keg floated FIVE MINUTES ago, and the stores are all closed now."

    "Man, I'm telling you, the water was just here FIVE YEARS ago. What took your ass so long to get here?!?"
  • Actually on closer inspection its sewage run-off. Definetly clear evidence of little green men living underground. ;)
  • by eebra82 (907996) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @06:18PM (#17137722) Homepage
    Great, who's couch is Tom Cruise going to ruin this time over this finding? Maybe Scientology was right after all.
  • Keep in mind that MGS is now off-line and presumed "end of mission".

    Looking to the near future, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Mars Reconnaissances Orbiter (MRO) [nasa.gov] delivers a more clear picture of whats going on up there...

  • Now all we have to do is locate and turn on the alien machine, to melt the glacier, that will make Mars habitable.
  • by jespley (1006115) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @06:45PM (#17138176)
    For what it's worth, I should point out that this is perfectly consistent with the story that's been gradually developing over the years. We know that there are substantial amounts of hydrogen in the first few meters of most of the Martian crust (cf. the MO Gamma-ray spectrometer) and hence there is likely water ice there. We know that in the distance past large quantities of liquid water flowed on the surface to carve the fluvial geomorphological features we see (cf. MGS MOC images). We know that liquid water sloshed in at least some areas to form certain minerals (cf. MER results). We've seen gullies on the sides of craters that looked recent (cf. MGS MOC images). And now this study which shows gullies being created over the timeframe of a few Earth years. Basically, this is just one more little increment in our understanding of the distribution of water on Mars. This is how science usually works but sometimes press releases unduly hype things.
  • but it was a washout.
  • Is this Artesian water? Or perhaps, Martesian water..


    Thanks, I'll be here all week!

  • NASA PR (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solanum (80810)
    Who is controlling NASA PR these days, and who decides to put these stories out? A few years ago there was the 'bacteria in meteorites' tale and they've been desperate to imply running water on Mars, with a pile of puff pieces over the last couple of years.

    Now I have the highest respect for the NASA scientists and I don't doubt their work, but both in the 'bacteria' case and in this one there are far more likely scenarios, which are supported by plenty of good scientists. They publish in the media anyway

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