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Mars NASA Space Science

NASA Announces Water Found On Mars 281

Posted by timothy
from the so-val-kilmer-can-breathe-easy dept.
s.bots writes "Straight from the horse's mouth, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has identified water in a soil sample. Hopefully this exciting news will boost interest in the space program and further exploration of the Martian surface." Clearly, this has long been suspected, but now Martian water's been (in the words of William Boynton, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer) "touched and tasted."
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NASA Announces Water Found On Mars

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  • Mars... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:33PM (#24424097) Homepage

    I still can't believe we sent a small robot and let it run around on *Mars*. It seems so unfathomably far away that I find it hard to even imagine...

    Next stop: Bacteria.

  • "So what?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damburger (981828) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:33PM (#24424113)

    ...is what most people will think. Whilst this is of earth-shattering (well, mars-shattering) importance to a lot a scientists it isn't going to motivate Joe Public to commit any more tax money to the exploration of space, because they don't benefit from it themselves. This isn't a condition of human nature, this is a conscious choice by a significant portion of the population to never grow out of adolescent self obsession. People are told its good to be totally egotistical, and here is a product that will help you do that.

    So no, it won't boost interest in space exploration; everyone who will raise an eyebrow to this news is already interested in space. People who didn't care before now won't care now.

  • This will be remembered in the textbooks as one of the biggest discoveries in human history - and yet it will of course be presently overlooked by uninterested masses.

    Will humanity ever get past our predilections with ourselves?

    I can't fathom the significance of this event fully, and yet the public applause so well deserved is again, starkly absent.

    oh well - I think it's great at least, maybe I shouldn't care so much what the masses think or care about.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by akzeac (862521) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:37PM (#24424167)

    I wonder how many times we'll keep seeing that picture every time water and Mars are mentioned. It was fun in 2005, and it hasn't aged well.

  • by 19Buck (517176) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:40PM (#24424195) Homepage

    Seriously are we really that surprised we found water on Mars? Considering most of our galaxy is made up of the same compounds here on Earth, I wouldn't doubt if we found water on nearly all our planets, in one form or another.

    from our perspective here on earth we might seem to have an overabundance of water, but on a universal scale it's a fairly rare compound. After all, water can only exist in a limited number of states under a limited number of conditions.

  • Re:Mars... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kamokazi (1080091) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:42PM (#24424235)

    There isn't any bacteria on Mars. Earth is the only planet that God chose to bless with life.

    I mean seriously, do you realize what kind of damage control the Roman Catholic Church would have to deal with after something like that? They have way to many altar boy molestation lawsuits to deal with.

  • Re:Mars... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:43PM (#24424243) Homepage Journal

    We didn't. This is Phoenix. It's stationary.

    On the other hand, Spirit and Opportunity *are* running around on Mars.

  • by SlashDev (627697) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:46PM (#24424283) Homepage
    Wasted tax dollars? I'm sure tax dollars are wasted on many idiotic programs than the geological survey of Mars. Space exploration is so important to understanding how the universe was formed, which in turn makes us understand how the earth was formed, which in turn makes us predict many events.
  • This will be remembered in the textbooks as one of the biggest discoveries in human history

    No it won't, because water is a fairly common molecular arrangement. Electricty, atomic power, Earth being round, these are things that qualify as the biggest discoveries. In 10 years this particular incident of the rover will be forgotten, and in 100 years, the rover itself will be a historical footnote. How much do textbooks cover the Apollo program other than #11 and #13?

    Less than 100 years ago, people believed that Mars had canals full of water. Then with better optics people realized that no, those trenches, causing an extreme belief swing the other way - that Mars must be bone dry, any water having long since evaporated. Of course that ignores the polar ice caps which spectrography can easily identify.

    We've finally come into direct contact with H20 on Mars' surface rather than simply remote identification. While a milestone, it's a pretty damn tiny one. It will not be remembered in textbooks. Look how results of the Venus expeditions of the 70s are now glossed over.

  • Marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:49PM (#24424329) Homepage

    People are curious by default. But you can't make money on reveling in scientific breakthroughs. Since money is the only measure of success in our culture, R&D that doesn't directly translate into more capital is ignored and often ridiculed, though almost all real breakthroughs are performed through the state sector (through funding to universities or even directly by DARPA).

    Billions upon billions are spent convincing people to buy products they don't need with money they don't have. It's all fun and games until the currency crashes and the environment is left in ruins.

  • Re:Mars... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:51PM (#24424359) Journal
    I think he's talking about sending Earth bacteria to Mars to let them run around.
  • Not so much (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:51PM (#24424367)
    It is momentous only because it finally proves that sustainable human life is possible on Mars. However, since Mars is sadly lacking a Magnetosphere, the fact that water and oxygen are available there isn't as useful as we would like it to be. Hmm... how hard is it to build a dome that blocks out all harmful cosmic radiation, yet still lets in the sunlight necessary for photosynthesis? Since any Terran originated life on Mars would require a pressurized dome anyway, how big a win is a Martian colony over a lunar or asteroid belt colony? Seems the only advantage of Mars is earth-like gravity, which is also a disadvantage if you ever want to leave the colony...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:54PM (#24424417)
    That's Carbon dioxide ice, you insensitive clod.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:01PM (#24424505) Journal

    True, but that's one gawdawful pipeline you gotta build to get at it, dontcha think?

    (...and I don't even want to know how what's gonna happen once the Sierra Club crowd finds out...)

    (yes, I'm being facetious).

    /P

  • Re:It's not "real" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by treeves (963993) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:02PM (#24424531) Homepage Journal
    "Humans and all other organisms have a built-in feel for H2O." So do FTIR spectrometers, TGAs, Karl Fischer titrators, and other instruments. You're obviously not a chemistry geek.
  • Re:Big deal... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:03PM (#24424547)
    The modders DID click on the link, they just realized that modding it "funny" would spoil the surprise... I was going to post the same comment myself, but somebody else beat me to it. True, it is only funny the first time you see it, so it is an old joke to 90% of slashdotters.
  • Re:Not so much (Score:3, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:06PM (#24424599)

    It is momentous only because it finally proves that sustainable human life is possible on Mars.

    It proves no such thing. It only hints at the possibility.

  • Re:"So what?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turiacus (1316049) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:20PM (#24424819)

    I'm sick of these constant attacks on "Joe Sixpack". When was the last time you were consulted on NASA's budget ? Ordinary folks have no control over this.

    And what did you personally do to encourage congress to spend more of space exploration ? Probably nothing. (whining on slashdot doesn't count).

    I also disagree with the idea that nobody cares. I care, and I bet a lot of people here care too. I remember the record number of visitors pathfinder's website had at the time. You are certainly not alone in finding a robot driving around Mars more exciting than a bunch of guys bicycling in orbit. But I guess having a superiority complex is fun.

  • by the_weasel (323320) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:23PM (#24424863) Homepage

    For example, we don't know much about our own oceans and those are far more important to us as a source of food, minerals etc.

    [sarcasm]Absolutely. We should immediately stop space research entirely and focus ALL of our efforts on the oceans. I can't believe no one is looking into this subject already.[/sarcasm]

    I care if there is water on Mars. With the advent of nuclear and biological weapons, we now have the power to significantly fuck up our living space. Hell - one of these days there will be another asteroid strike.

    It would be nice to know if humans can be self sufficient in places other than earth. That won't happen tomorrow, but it won't happen at all if we don't research it.

    I don't know if you have looked up lately, but it turns out the universe is an awfully big place. We should probably look around a bit.

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:30PM (#24424955) Homepage Journal

    Must... resist... Iraq... comparison...

  • Re:Significance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rhennigan (833589) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:32PM (#24424991)

    I firmly believe that extraterrestrial life does not exist (and never has)

    Around here we tend to rely on evidence and not beliefs.

  • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @07:17PM (#24425493)
    from our perspective here on earth we might seem to have an overabundance of water, but on a universal scale it's a fairly rare compound.

    On the contrary: I'd guess that water is the most common compound in the Universe.

    The most abundant substance in the by far in the visible Universe is hydrogen. The second most abundant is helium. The third most abundant element in the Universe is oxygen, but in the presence of elemental hydrogen oxygen is unstable and reacts exothermically to produce water. Probably most of the oxygen not locked up inside stars is in water molecules.

    Liquid water is rare, I'll grant. But the Universe is absolutely riddled with water vapour and with ice.

  • by rronda (1139207) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @08:26PM (#24426217)
    But it means that if you are planning a manned spaceflight, you only need to carry enough water to get there.
  • by CraftyJack (1031736) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @08:44PM (#24426375)

    Devil's Advocate: Then pay for it your damn self.

    In that case, I for one would like my Iraq money back so that I can transfer it to NASA.

  • Re:"So what?" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @09:21PM (#24426813)

    As long as you are mistaking "to" for "too", you ought not be complaining about the spelling in other posts.

    As long as you think vagoogoo is a simple mispelling you ought not to be posting in the first place.

  • Re:"So what?" (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @02:22PM (#24437615)

    I'm sick of these constant attacks on "Joe Sixpack". When was the last time you were consulted on NASA's budget ? Ordinary folks have no control over this.

    I don't know about you, but I'm consulted on the first Tuesday of every other November, like clockwork. Beyond that, I also can call up Joe Congressman whenever I want, and even if he wants to ignore me, he can't entirely escape my opinion if enough people share it.

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