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Mars Space Science

Underground Water on Mars? 109

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the well-well-well dept.
WaltonNews wrote in with a story about possible underground water on Mars. The article begins: "The Mars Express spacecraft, from the European Space Agency (ESA), has indicated to scientists that the dry atmosphere and surface on the planet Mars does not necessarily mean Mars is dry underneath the surface. In fact, a huge storehouse of water and carbon dioxide could be found in underground reservoirs."
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Underground Water on Mars?

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  • 404 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Any Web Loco (555458) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:39AM (#17766796) Homepage
    No water after all?
  • Lowell was right? (Score:3, Informative)

    by BTWR (540147) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {3robignacirema}> on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:40AM (#17766802) Homepage Journal
    Maybe there are canals on Mars, lol...
  • http://science.slashdot.org/ahref= [slashdot.org]

    Any way. Sign me up. I'll gladly run a drill rig for NASA or what ever. I've got skills. Just get me off this war torn planet.
    • Re:format (Score:4, Funny)

      by Paulrothrock (685079) on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:44AM (#17768240) Homepage Journal
      I'll take a one-way mission, too. Hell, imagine never having to wear bug spray anymore. No more poison ivy. No more dimwits trying to push their religion on you by force if necessary. And you'd be spending your life building a new world. That would be a wonderful place to die.
      • Re:format (Score:5, Interesting)

        by OriginalArlen (726444) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:38AM (#17769178)
        I have a deeply unpopular opinion round here which is that, even if humans actually walk on Mars in our lifetimes (I'd put the chances of that at 5/1), the chances of any permanent settlement are nil, zip, zilch, nada. You have to understand how much it would cost, and that there would be no economic benefits at all apart from the teflon/tang/spacepen type spin-offs; and if that's the aim, there are plenty of much more useful projects that could be run which would have just as many technological spin-off benefits. You have to understand how hard it would be to get there and maintain life support in such a hostile environment. How long would the US settlers have lasted if they'd had no natural resources apart from lots of very very salty / acidic dusts and regolith, a dim sun, low gravity, and had faced instant death in the event of a loss of air pressure / failure of any of several thousand literally "mission-critical" systems? Oh wait, for some of those failure modes, death would be slow, lingering, and unpleasant. And we'd all have to watch it on TV every night. *shudder* no, thanks.

        See, I said it was unpopular. Bye-bye karma, I barely knew ye ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Bye-bye karma, I barely knew ye

          Don't try to second guess the mods. It's as likely to provoke as to mollify. If you're actually fearful of being modded, just post AC.

          You have to understand how much it would cost, and that there would be no economic benefits at all apart from the teflon/tang/spacepen type spin-offs; and if that's the aim,

          Of course that's not the aim. The Moon will be more than enough of a technical challenge. The reason to go to Mars is pure science; to explore, and in the (very) long

          • But we can do an awful lot of science without humans, for the forseeable future anyway. How do you quantify whether it's worth spending $200B for some applied science that's not going to tell us anything of direct relevance to us here on Earth? I've been following the MER rovers for the last three years, watching the raw data at the Exploratorium - there's more raw data from those two rovers than there are planetary scientists available to work it over thoroughly. There's plenty of stuff these rovers can't
            • by 1u3hr (530656)
              But we can do an awful lot of science without humans,

              Of course. Sending humans is justifiable only as leading to colonising, for its own sake. Basically, a biological imperative. Otherwise we'd still be chipping rocks in Olduvai Gorge.

              • We have to spend hundreds of billions on a massive white elephant because it's in our genes?? Ten out of ten for originality, minus several million for realism. "We have to grow a second brain on top of our existing ones so that we become much smarter! If we don't, we'll still be living in caves." Do you not know circular logic when you see it?
                • by 1u3hr (530656)
                  We have to grow a second brain on top of our existing ones so that we become much smarter! If we don't, we'll still be living in caves." Do you not know circular logic when you see it?

                  But do you know a stupid analogy when you make one?

          • The payoff in this case depends greatly on initial funding and even more so upon sticking with the damned funding for it in the first place. Oh, and selecting the right goal... which sure as hell isn't the Moon or Mars, it's NEAs and the resources in them. Moving one of them to where we want it is a much less daunting challenge, initial resource expenditure-wise, than lifting the equivalent materials out of Earth's gravity well. We even possess all the tools we need to do such a thing right now...

            S
        • You know, I was going to write a long post debunking your opinion. But you know it's unpopular, so why ruin your day and waste my time debunking you?

          I'd suggest, however, you reads "The Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin. He lays out a, well, case for going to Mars and explains why it won't be nearly as expensive as not going.

          • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

            by OriginalArlen (726444)
            Sure, and some nice gentlemen called at my house the other day to lay out a case for Jesus and explain why my immortal soul would be grateful forever. Sorry, Zubrin's a nutter with a penchant for wishful thinking that makes a Star Trek convention look like a meeting of the Realist Society.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by stevesliva (648202)

          How long would the US settlers have lasted if they'd had no natural resources apart from lots of very very salty / acidic dusts and regolith, a dim sun, low gravity, and had faced instant death in the event of a loss of air pressure / failure of any of several thousand literally "mission-critical" systems? Oh wait, for some of those failure modes, death would be slow, lingering, and unpleasant.

          Even in the relatively temperate climate of North America, there are plenty of ways to die.

          Regardless, I've a

          • by misleb (129952)

            Regardless, I've actually thought along the same lines about colonization, and it has a lot to do with the economic rationale for going in the first place. Once there is one good reason to establish a population, everyone else follows to support that population. Columbus thought that we'd settle to get gold and silver, at Jamestown it was tobacco (eventually), in New England and Atlantic Canada it had a lot to do with just leaving Olde England and perhaps a very little to do with cod fisheries and fur trad

            • Once it becomes cheap enough to visit Mars with regularity, be it for simple science or tourism, it would actually make sense to establish a permanent base, rather than bringing everything along each time.

              You're extrapolating an aweful lot from an analogy that only has superficial significance.

              It's not extrapolation. (Nor was it my analogy in the first place) I believe that once the cost of the trip is reasonable, people will choose to stay on the other side. What you are saying is that the cost wil

              • by misleb (129952)

                It's not extrapolation. (Nor was it my analogy in the first place) I believe that once the cost of the trip is reasonable, people will choose to stay on the other side. What you are saying is that the cost will never be reasonable

                I'm saying that nobody knows what things will be like that far into the future and any talk about it is pointless speculation unless your're a sci-fi author.

                This is like--to continue the analogy--stating that in 1493, that no average joe will *ever* sail west across the Atlantic

          • Once it becomes cheap enough to visit Mars with regularity,...
            What makes you think the laws of physics are going to change?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by WindBourne (631190)
          Actually, your opinion matches up with a number of folks. Of course, most of them believe that ID is real.

          Thank god that it is not likely to win. Simply put, it is no where near as expensive as NASA or even you believe. Why? Because of NASA's and RKA (USSR/Russian space agency ) precursor work of figuring out what works.
          1. Launch will be provided by any number of transports. My belief is that spaceX and scaled composites will capture the bulk of this within another 4 years.
          2. Bigelow's stations will be used
          • You're either out of your mind, or have no clue what you're talking about. let's look at (1):

            Launch will be provided by any number of transports. My belief is that spaceX and scaled composites will capture the bulk of this within another 4 years.

            Scaled composites are going to build an orbital vehicle out of carbon fibre and powered by tyre rubber and kerosine, are they? No, of course not. You realise SS1 just went straight up and straight back down again, not, like, "round and round", yes? You realise one takes 27,000mph whilst the other barely required Mach1? I'll do you a favour and stop there. I suggest you do, too.

        • Yep, the obvious makes Mars pretty unfriendly, but I think the biggest problem mankind would face would be the radiation. Good ol' Earth here is set up with a convient magnetic field that keeps the solar radiation out. Mars doesn't have one of these. Even if you can, say, terriform Mars to have a breathable atmosphere, get a greenhouse effect going to make it warm, ect., the lack of protection from the solar radiation would strip it all away in time, and boil all the water to vapor, which would also be s
        • by Tablizer (95088)
          the chances of any permanent settlement are nil, zip, zilch, nada. You have to understand how much it would cost,...You have to understand how hard it would be to get there and maintain life support in such a hostile environment.

          What I see as more likely would be living in underground caverns. Some process would have to be devised to fill them with breathable air.
                 
          • Lots of O2 up there. Lots of iron that is easy to work with. Nice thing that by doing a cave in the ground, it should be possible to line it with metal and then do an insulation layer (think aerogel). The only real issue on Mars will be power. Without lots of power (much more / person than even America uses), and the idea of living of the land becomes impossible. Nuclear technology becomes paramount.
            • by Tablizer (95088)
              Although the sun is further away there, solar power is still a fairly good idea because there are almost no clouds to block the sun. Well, maybe an occasional dust storm.
      • I'll take a one-way mission, too. Hell, imagine never having to wear bug spray anymore. No more poison ivy. No more dimwits trying to push their religion on you by force if necessary. And you'd be spending your life building a new world. That would be a wonderful place to die.

        How much fresh water, oil, and labor do you think it takes to just keep you fed? To supply you with clothing? To make a single computer chip? There are no supermarkets on Mars, no Chinese sweat shops, no Best Buy. In fact, those "d
        • Yeah, because people walked around naked and hungry before we learned to tame the wild supermarket and shopping mall.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952)

        I'll take a one-way mission, too. Hell, imagine never having to wear bug spray anymore.

        No need to imagine. I live in NW Oregon. No bug spray needed... even out camping in the lush forests. It is pretty great, actually.

        No more poison ivy.

        Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater...

        No more dimwits trying to push their religion on you by force if necessary.

        Can't say that happens to me here. The only time I ever come into (virtual) contact with a religious freak is if I opt to visit some forum or

      • If you plan to take any other people with you, that dream goes out the window. Sure, there might not be any bugs o poison ivy, but there will still be people, and that means dimwits trying to shove their religion down your throat and wild-eyed theophobic dimwits. In other words, same shit, different planet
        • That's the great thing: The folks who I'd be going with will be like me. Sure, some religious freaks might go, but they'll be on the other side of the planet.

          I'll just have to make sure I land on the western hemisphere, cause it's the best one.

    • by misleb (129952)

      Any way. Sign me up. I'll gladly run a drill rig for NASA or what ever. I've got skills. Just get me off this war torn planet.
      Trading a "war torn planet" for a barren wasteland. A little desperate, are we?

      -matthew
  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by celardore (844933) * on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:46AM (#17766860)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:47AM (#17766864)
    Got a link to the article? Or do I have to go to Mars and see it for myself? I'll pack thermal underwear and a shovel.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let us all call it a dupe! :-)
  • Not a new result (Score:4, Informative)

    by amightywind (691887) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:08AM (#17767040) Journal

    This is not news worthy in the least. It has been several years since groundwater seeps have been observed by the MOC camera [msss.com] on Mars Global Surveyor.

    • Re:Not a new result (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nwbvt (768631) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:13AM (#17767088)
      I think the point of the research being referenced (though the link is bad, so its hard to tell) is that new experiments show the water loss rate should be much lower than they previously thought, which means all that water that used to be there must have gone somewhere.
    • by idlake (850372)
      This isn't about the occasional seeps, it's saying that there may be vast quantities of water locked up because water is being lost much more slowly than previously thought.
  • by iiii (541004) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:10AM (#17767052) Homepage
    Beneath the surface of the desert planet we will find huge stores of water and the spice melange, which will allow us to see into the future, which will enable us to travel among the stars. It's actually the poop of some giant monster worms creatures, but who cares, let's eat it anyway.
    • Actually, it's the "poop" of the "little makers". I only got half way through "God Emperor", and there was no mention of the waste of the great worm up to that point. But if I know the Fremen, they're collecting and using that, too.

      -Peter
  • Speculation... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:17AM (#17767124) Homepage
    Why does this make news? It's speculation. Can I make the /. frontpage by saying "There might be miniture Giraffes under the surface of mars"?

    It'd be a fascinating article if they had found water under the surface, but this?...Come on...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by delt0r (999393)
      A large majorty of interesting science is speculation and about 100% of popular science is halfway between speculation and fabricated. This is /.
    • This just in! A commentator on the popular technology site "Slashdot" (who very well may be an expert) claims to have definitive proof that miniature giraffes dwell in subterranean Martian ice mines. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the giraffes will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new long-necked overlords.

      More at 11.
  • MARSIS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nuffsaid (855987) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:18AM (#17767130)
    Don't know where the link was supposed to go, but some (not really new) information can be found here [esa.int], along with a nice section of Mars North Polar Cap obtained with the remarkable Italian MARSIS [esa.int] instrument. Nice to see another world studied by geologists with just the same techniques used here on Earth.
  • In fact, a huge storehouse of water and carbon dioxide could be found in underground reservoirs.

    ...just waiting for Arnold Schwarzenegger to "get his ass to mars" and put his hand on some funky alien 3-fingered button and push, which will entirely replace the planet's atmosphere with an oxygen/nitrogen mix at roughly standard Earth pressure in a matter of seconds, just in time to save him and his girlfriend from asphyxiation on the surface, but a little too late for the bad guy to survive.

    • Four fingers actually, you forgot the thumb.

      Next time on "How to Tell You're a Nerd": Reacalling the number of fingers on the switch to an alien device in an 80's Schwarzenegger movie!
  • This is obligatory, have to show the world we've already spotted it on this NASA probe image.

    http://home.online.no/~feldt/wateronmars.jpg [online.no]

  • by Speed Pour (1051122) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:40AM (#17767366)
    Seriously...there's been a decent number of sightings of ice water on Mars including European Space Agency [esa.int] and again recently with NASA [nasa.gov].

    There's nothing new here. Stating a theory that perhaps less water has disappeared than previously thought? What's expected? Ice is known to have a lower planetary dispersion rate.

    To add to all of this, it's scientifically reasonable to assume there should be fairly large quantities of water under the surface. Logic applies, we've seen landforms that support the belief of water having once been on mars, and we've got recent pictures to show some (likely a lot) is still there. Guess what, anybody who knows anything about dessert geography also knows that water naturally burrows below the surface. This is just putting 2+2 together.

    What are they going to report on next, the discovery of Magnetic Fields and how they might exist on other planets?
  • Look - it's very simple. Either there are *usable* amounts of water on Mars, or there aren't.

    I understand that the geologists (areologists, whatever) can get excited about the possibilities of trace amounts of water because it will help explain planetary evolution etc. And I share their enthusiasm, if not their expertise. But what I and thousands of other space enthusiasts want to know is; "Is there water on Mars?"

    If we are ever going to have some sort of (semi-) permanent presence on Mars, we must have wat
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rbanffy (584143)
      We did. It was called Beagle 2.

      It was supposed to dig down a little bit and try to take some underground samples.

      Keep in mind that most mining equipment is not very portable, if at all. Taking it to Mars and landing it safely is beyond our current capabilities.

      OTOH, we could smash a block of something and analyze the resulting plume. There is no better way to dig a crater that smashing a 1 ton bullet traveling at a couple kilometers per second.

      There is, but try smuggling a nuke to space these days...
    • If we are ever going to have some sort of (semi-) permanent presence on Mars, we must have water.

      Well, yeah, but that's like saying "if we're going to have a human colony on the surface of the sun, we must have a way to survive temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees". Of course we're not going to have permanent colonies on Mars; the idea's preposterous to everyone who got over being 13 and reading too much bad science fiction. Oh, wait, this is Slashdot... Delusion Central. My mistake, sorry, mind you don't trip over my karma on the way out.

    • by AJWM (19027)
      But what I and thousands of other space enthusiasts want to know is; "Is there water on Mars?"

      And the answer is the same as it has been for decades: YES. You can see it from Earth, if you have a good telescope.

      The permanent Martian polar caps are water ice. In the winter hemisphere they get bigger because of the CO2 ("dry") ice on top of the water ice

      Sheesh. The only thing exciting about water elsewhere on Mars (geological history implications aside) is that you won't have to haul it as far.
  • Can NASA satellites or other satellites currently orbiting Earth detect our Aquifers? If so, perhaps the same instruments can be used on a probes sent to orbit Mars. If not, perhaps they should determine the method of detecting Earth's groundwater first, from orbit, and then export such tech to Martian probes. Just my 2 cents.
    • Sure they can detect aquifers on Earth. Some of them "antennas" are actually dowsing rods!

      They consult an astrologer to interpret the data.
  • soda! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    " In fact, a huge storehouse of water and carbon dioxide could be found in underground reservoirs."

    water + CO2 = carbonic acid, or soda water.

    Mars is a big soda!

    considering its red color, I'm guessing either Dr Pepper, or Cheerwine
    • Re:soda! (Score:4, Funny)

      by CptNerd (455084) <adiseker@lexonia.net> on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:38PM (#17770294) Homepage
      So, all we have to do is drill holes all over Mars and drop huge Mentos candies down the shafts, and voila! Instant atmosphere and oceans! Plus, if we time the drops right, we might be able to nudge Mars into an orbit closer to the Sun!

      • by mbrod (19122)
        Or increase the mass of Mars moon. This will start the inards of Mars churning again (like the Earth's inards are churning from the effects of our big moon), and free up gas and water thus creating the required atmosphere on Mars.
  • Now as soon as they find oil I can move to mars and start bottling the water
  • Huh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I hit the link and got a /. URL, a 404. I looked at the links; one was a mailto and one was a bad /. URL (explaining the 404).

    So if any of you want to actually RARFA (Read A Real Fucking Article), I suggest you try here. [newscientist.com] I saw this yesterday, I was very interested.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:23AM (#17768956) Journal
    I recently attended a presentation by a geologist (areologist?) investigating the gullies [nasa.gov]. She argued convincingly that many of these are caused by liquid water erupting horizontally from aquifers about 100m underground. This water would lie about 100m below plateaus and the water would emerge from the side of steep faces. This is exactly where the gullies appear in photography and the 100m is consistent with the pressure and temperature required to keep wtar in a liquid state. On emerging to the surface the water would only last a few minutes before boiling and freezing. This is consistent with the length of the gullies. From what we know of the temperature of Mars these conditions aren't suitable for liquid CO2. The sinuosity of the gullies is inconsistent with landslides.

    This is quite different from evidence from radar. We're talking about water that may have flowed in the last couple of years. (Not geological time. A few years here means less than ten.)

  • For the damned Mars Mineral water brand to hit Earth shelves...
  • Hollywood got this right in 1964: http://imdb.com/title/tt0058530/ [imdb.com]

    Not only is there water, you can heat the rocks to get oxygen, and there are edible psychedelic plants. Oh, and aliens with flying saucers.

    Ah, Mars. Is there anything it DOESN'T have?
  • by Chacham (981)
    My company SpongeNoMore will be entering the sponge removal phase soon. The plan is to rocket them to Mars, and nukle 'em with my TeslaWave OvenRay.

    They better find water, 'cus i don't want to be responsible for making Mars into the black planet.
  • I agree with most on this topic that this is extremely old news. Several years ago Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to locate that thingamajig that penetrated that whatchamacallit, which instantaneously spawned a new, Earth-like atmosphere. Now there are trees and grass and bodies of water and snow-capped mountains and clouds and all sort of other nature for us all to enjoy... Don't you remember? I mean, his eyes are still a little bugged out, but for the most part he is back to normal.
  • Old News. Pass it on.....
  • As in many other things, it's now common to prove things by disproving everything else. Now by disproving the existence of any water on the surface, they're convinced of a huge storehouse of water underground.
  • They just keep on hoping. We haven't found any sign of it anywhere yet (secondary evidence like erosion channels means little unless you actually see them being created), so let's say it must (might) be here where we can't look at all yet. Impossible to prove a negative.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:01PM (#17779978) Homepage Journal
    1973: There MAY be water on Mars.

    1977: There MIGHT be water on Mars.

    1997: There is POSSIBLY water on Mars.

    2004: There is PERHAPS water on Mars.

    2007: There COULD be water on Mars.

    I am beginning to see a trend here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
  • Of course there is underground water on Mars......don't you remember Total Recall? The guvenator has known about this for quite some time.....

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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