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Mars Space Science

Half of Mars May Have Ice 66

Posted by kdawson
from the submerged-oceans dept.
Ixlr8 sends in a BBC story suggesting that up to half of Mars may have ice at varying depths below the surface. Quoting: "Up until now, scientists had been able to search for water deposits using a spectrometer fixed to the orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft. However, only readings that are accurate to within several hundred kilometers can be obtained. By comparing seasonal changes in thermal infrared patterns, detected by the same Odyssey spacecraft, [scientists] can make readings accurate to within just hundreds of meters."
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Half of Mars May Have Ice

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  • by tinkertim (918832) * on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:00PM (#18974833) Homepage
    The TFA is just long enough to piss you off that its not longer and more detailed. You walk away with a picture of lakes and possibly oceans iced over and covered up by a few million years of space dust.

    Apparently, instead of using a spectrometer, he's comparing seasonal changes in thermal infrared patterns. It doesn't mention if he's comparing AGAINST spectrometer data, it doesn't mention how he's able to determine depth, and it doesn't mention why its any more accurate than just using a spectrometer.

    I could tell that someone who knows much less than I do about how to find water on mars wrote the article, and I know next to nothing on the subject. After reading TFA, I still know next to nothing on the subject.
    • by uab21 (951482) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:45PM (#18975493)
      Try Space.com on the same story (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070502_mars _ice.html [space.com]). for a slightly more meaty version. Evidently using data from a new bird with higher resolution combined with assumptions on effectiveness of soil insulation.
    • by malsdavis (542216)
      BBC News is a mainstream news organization, they're hardly going to start providing detailed scientific analysis of the comparison methods used and quite frankly, I'm very glad they don't!

      Even as an academic, I often don't want to read 20 pages of boring scientific detail and on the frequent occasions that I DO want to research the topic further I go to a suitable website specializing in that field or even try and get a look at the research paper.

      The motto of the story is: Pick the right tool for the right
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tardyon (1068838)
      I read (some of) the Nature article. They are not using the spectrometer data at all - except by way of saying "there really is ice there". What they are doing is measuring, using infrared cameras only, how quickly the surface changes temperature due to seasonal changes. Water (ice) has a huge specific heat capacity, so it changes temperature more slowly. The more ice mixed in with the dust/rock, the more slowly it changes temperature.

      To get depth, they note that the surface temperature changes first, then
    • The day they extract any significant amounts of water from mars is the day I'll care. This is simply propaganda for more funding. It is extremely low of NASA to stoop to the level of playing on people's emotions and primal need for water for more funding. This is an absolutely disgraceful thing for NASA to do. But it shows you the state of the world we're living in. People will do just about anything to make money, just look at reality TV. I really don't know what else to say, but that this is low, dis
  • Let the other half eat cake.
    • You see, this is the problem with Mars: One half has all the ice and the other half has none. There should be an equitable sharing of the ice. We need to get some Marsxists up there ASAP.

      Either that, or the other half of Mars needs to get some ice quickly. After all, we cannot have an Ice gap...

  • by jcgf (688310) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:08PM (#18974953)
    Could we push off a meter of dust and get to the ice to build a skating rink? The pioneers will need something to do for fun once the colonies begin.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by R2.0 (532027)
      "pioneers will need something to do for fun once the colonies begin."

      I'm sure they will do the same thing settlers did in every colonozation waze in human history.

      Fucking. Lots and lots of baby making.

      Sign me up.
    • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:55PM (#18975661) Journal
      If we've colonized the place, then we'll have the capability of generating ethanol. Combining that with Martian ice should let you make margaritas, or at least dacquiris, which should take care of what you need...
  • You need all that ice to create a breathable atmosphere [wikipedia.org] on Mars!
  • by rambag (961763)
    I say that the glass Mars is half empty of ice.
  • Too bad... (Score:3, Funny)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:44PM (#18975475)
    Unfortunately, the other half has all the beer.
  • by rubberbandball (1076739) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:00PM (#18975749)
    Coming summer 20(xx): D4: Ducks on Mars. Emilio Estevez, amazingly still alive; reprises his role as coach of the district 5 hockey team. Even more amazing, no one on the team has aged and they are all in peak physical condition since the last film in the series. Also, the old man who runs the store is alive. The team travels to Mars to compete against some nation who is vastly better in at hockey in every way than the USA in the first Interplanetary-No-One-Cares-About-Hockey Tournament. Along the way, they find out the true meaning of friendship and family; and much to the dismay of NASA, the girl who plays the other goalie in the 2nd and 3rd movies has sex with everyone on board except Goldberg. I for one, cannot wait.
  • Since the water is so widespread and the mapping is accurate, why not send the existing robots spirit and/or opportunity to investigate this evidence?
  • All you have to do is activate the reactor to melt it to release all the oxygen. Watch out for Benny, he's not who he seems.
  • It doesn't matter how much ice is present on Mars. The planet lacks a sufficient mass for holding an Earth-like atmosphere. You can terra-form all you want, pump loads of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen into that atmosphere... it's just going to be lost on the solar wind.

    Sure, we could probably get a little in-door civilization going there. Just don't plan on going for a walk around Victoria crater.

    • Meh, people spent plenty of time living in caves and tunnels during the last ice age. Why not on Mars?
    • You could spend a few centuries building up an atmosphere that's good for, say, a few hundred thousand years -- nothing in planetary time, but a long time in human terms. Repeat as desired. It can be habitable for as long as we want it to, as long as we maintain it.

      Not that it's necessarily the best use of our resources.
    • by Ihlosi (895663)
      The planet lacks a sufficient mass for holding an Earth-like atmosphere.

      Actually, lack of a magnetic field similar in strength to Earths is also a big issue.

      You can terra-form all you want, pump loads of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen into that atmosphere... it's just going to be lost on the solar wind.

      This is a veeeeeery slow process, though. It would take a couple of million years (really, that's nothing on a planetary timescale) for an atmosphere similar to Earths on Mars to get blown away into s

  • It's just a new advertising campaign for that Will Ferrell, John Heder ice skating movie.
  • by obeythefist (719316) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:58PM (#18982393) Journal
    A large console underneath the surface of mars, with a funny looking handprint.

    When discussing with chief scientist/agent Douglas Quaid, he commented "Two weeeeks". Then he put his hand on the console, melted the ice, got blown outside and his face puffed up and burst.

    True story.
  • Half of Mars May Have Ice

    Wow, and to think that they say we have an ice [wikipedia.org] problem here! ;)

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