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Space Science

Rover Accidentally Uncovers Mars Hydrothermal Vent 53

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the best-discoveries-by-accident dept.
The rover Spirit has been dragging one wheel around the surface of Mars for some time. One of the resulting gouges revealed a mineral deposit which was probably caused by a hydrothermal vent. This implies a large amount of water was present when the vent was active.
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Rover Accidentally Uncovers Mars Hydrothermal Vent

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  • Very Cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @04:13AM (#23525928) Homepage Journal
    Very Cool Indeed.

    Lets hope the Phoenix Lander [arizona.edu] finds something too :) Countdown is currently at 1day, 15 hrs...
  • Kudos! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by captn ecks (525113) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @04:16AM (#23525940) Homepage
    Even it's broken dragging wheel makes informative discoveries on the Martian surface. The Mars rovers are surely one of our most successful robotic missions ever. Kudos to JPL and NASA and the American Congress for keeping to fund these missions. Let's all keep our fingers crossed for the Phoenix lander this Sunday - landing is at approximately 5PM EST this Sunday on NASA TV.
    • I thought Congress recently slashed funding for the Mars rovers. I could be wrong, though.
      • Re:Kudos! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @04:38AM (#23526022) Homepage Journal
        I'm positive I remember reading something about that too...

        Personally, I think they should mass produce more of those rovers and blast them off to mars.... spirit and opportunity were sent to two very boring places on mars that were deemed as safe as possible to land after so many previous failures.

        We should be sending rovers nearer to the poles, to olympus mobs, to valles marineris... etc. Think of the fascinating stuff we'd find if we actually sent rovers somewhere INTERESTING.
        • Re:Kudos! (Score:5, Funny)

          by sarahbau (692647) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @04:48AM (#23526042)
          "Olympus Mobs?" I guess you really are a World of Warcraft addict :p
          • by DiSKiLLeR (17651)
            OMG, I can't believe I made that typo :)

            Yes, I really am a wow addict, been playing since 2004 :)

            Olympus MONS!
            • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Are you implying there are trolls in there?
        • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:30AM (#23526428) Journal
          While these rovers are pretty cool, they really do not contain that much equipment. In addition, once landed, they really do not travel that far. Instead, we would be better served with either a unique airplane or a balloon model. While they are testing the airplane idea, I would think that unless the wings can fold up, that when the infamous mars storms hit, that it will be all over. The balloon idea has the advantage of being able to fold up tight, but it can not be as easily controlled. One idea that I saw out there was to release 5-10 balloons with cameras and no ability to land. Right now, MRO has a camera that sees .3M, but an inexpensive camera on the balloon, should be able to take that much smaller due to height and far less atmosphere.

          Quite honestly, the rovers are simple extensions of pathfinder, but we now need a combination of large jumps for spot checks and the ability to do a lot more science. The balloon approach would give us the ability to jump with small tests, while the MSL will be the logical outcome of the rovers combined with polar express. The biggest item that will come from the polar express will simply be the landing under power.
          • Difficult? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by jgoemat (565882) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:16AM (#23526602)
            Would they even work on Mars? The pressure is less than 1/1000th that of the Earth, or the same pressure as over 30 miles up on Earth. The U-2 spy plane only flew about 13 miles high and the SR-71 only reaches 15 miles. High-altitude weather balloons don't get much over 20 miles up I don't think. While the decreased gravity on Mars might help with the plane idea, would it help with the balloon? Just curious, but wouldn't the decreased gravity adversely affect the buoyancy as much as it would help by making the payload lighter?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by WindBourne (631190)
              There are a number of models that are being experimented with that should work. Obviously helium AND will have a much small payload than here due to decreased density. The problem will be that the balloons will NOT go high up. That means if they hit Olympus Mons, well, it is stuck. They have also tested several wings that they are looking at for preditor type aircrafts. They are doing that work over here in Colorado.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by jmauro (32523)
                In the Martian atmosphere, Hydrogen works better as a lifting gas. It'll give more lift per cubic meter than helium, lighter for launching into space and can compress into smaller canisters for in flight transportation. All this without the corresponding dangers and safety concerns since there is no oxygen in the Martian atmosphere to mix with it and make it explosive.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by chaboud (231590)
              Minor correction, but the atmospheric pressure on Mars is generally said to be 1/150th of that of earth, or between 6 to 10 millibars.
            • Check out X-Plane MARS [x-plane.com] and test some designs for yourself. :)
          • by mollymoo (202721) * on Saturday May 24, 2008 @08:10AM (#23526834) Journal

            The biggest item that will come from the polar express will simply be the landing under power.

            They landed the Vikings that way over 30 years ago, it's hardly new.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)
          "We should be sending rovers nearer to the poles"
          They are solar powered... I don't think they would too well at the pole.
          Now if they put a SNAP on one that would rock.
        • by Tablizer (95088)
          Personally, I think they should mass produce more of those rovers and blast them off to mars.... spirit and opportunity were sent to two very boring places on mars that were deemed as safe as possible to land after so many previous failures.

          I agree, a bunch of Sojourner-sized rovers (without the lander pod) should be sent to higher-risk areas. The "ice-trees" [members.shaw.ca] and "ice-tubes" [xtl-ak.com] would be additional cool places to visit besides the ones you listed. If they have a dozen or so, scientists & engineers would b
      • Re:Kudos! (Score:4, Informative)

        by captn ecks (525113) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @04:54AM (#23526058) Homepage
        No, that was a mistake by over zealous accountants - NASA Administrator Michael Griffin quickly corrected that and promised continued full funding for both rovers as long as they continue to operate.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Megane (129182)

          NASA Administrator Michael Griffin quickly corrected that and promised continued full funding for both rovers as long as they continue to operate.

          That's good to know (I hadn't heard that anywhere), though Spirit is essentially out of commission for a few more months due to winter weather, unless it gets its solar panels cleaned off by wind. Right now it's having a hard enough time just keeping warm. [nasa.gov]

    • Re:Kudos! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <[moc.loa] [ta] [yuGhceTcoHdA]> on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:17AM (#23526372) Journal
      Put another way, learning from a broken, dragging wheel clearly demonstrates how very little we know about our neighbor.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      I imagine a time hundreds of years from now when our civilization has fallen and been reborn and we are studying Mars and scientists are getting excited by the strange patterns they're seeing drawn onto the surface of Mars. Weird geometric lines that must mean that intelligent life has lived on Mars - quite forgetting the time we drew the lines ourselves with a messed up rover.
  • Uh oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Drenaran (1073150)
    Oh my... so many possibilities for "accidentally uncovers thermal vent" come to mind. God knows I'm going to try and make some sort of joke and at least one girl I know is going to slap me. I suppose you can't really worry too much about the inevitable though...
  • Oops (Score:5, Funny)

    by Magdalene (263144) <magdalene@NOSpAm.lightspeed.ca> on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:16AM (#23526368) Homepage Journal
    It is certainly amazing that the rover is still running well after original mission end date and altogether amusing that, much like most other brilliant advances in science, the hydrothermal vent evidence was discovered completely by accident.

    Chance; 'the powers that be'; chaos; coincidence; divine intervention; flying spaghetti monster or just the universes' subversive perverse version of humour; you get the feeling that if it weren't for an infinite amount of insanely improbable accidents, not only science but life as we know it just wouldn't have happened.

    Come to think of it, The *Big Bang* probably happened because Chaos and God were up in God's room with Chaos' new chemistry set and they were arguing over who got to light the Bunsen burner when they accidentally knocked the "NEW INSTANT UNIVERSE!" out of the box and onto the floor.

    (read instructions carefully. some assembly required. very fragile. may explode if dropped. do not unpack near open flame, spark or antimatter. Batteries not included. your results may vary. not responsible for damages incurred by improper implementation of instructions. universe may be damaged by improper handling. )

    They were probably grounded for 240,000 years.
    • New Instant Universe!

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      • by Magdalene (263144)
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  • Meta Comment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Number6.2 (71553) * on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:28AM (#23526412) Homepage Journal
    Come on, Editors. This is big Geek news. Surely this deserves an expanded box on the main page and not just a single freaking line.

    (or is that just the way it looks with my preferences? I'll accept brick-bats if I've done something stupid. However...)

    • Come on, Editors. This is big Geek news. Surely this deserves an expanded box on the main page and not just a single freaking line.
      I agree. The story also wasn't listed in the RSS feeds.
  • Old new (Score:3, Informative)

    by jgoemat (565882) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:22AM (#23526632)
    You all know this occurred a whole year ago, right? Compare the pictures in the linked article to the pictures in the article linked to by this slahdot article [slashdot.org] from May 21, 2007...
  • why is this consigned to a substory and yet a stupid song about some basic maths a full one.
  • ...if we break enough rover parts, we'll discover the cure for cancer.
         

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