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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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  • Hurray! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inotocracy (762166) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:30PM (#24424049) Homepage
    Now what?
  • Are we surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:31PM (#24424061)
    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.
  • It's not "real" (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Sybert42 (1309493) * on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:31PM (#24424065) Journal
    I'm a geek and all, but this is all inferred through instruments. I know the taste and feel of water. Humans and all other organisms have a built-in feel for H2O.
  • Re:Big deal... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smolloy (1250188) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:40PM (#24424201)

    I love that this has been moderated "+5 Interesting" :D

    Obviously lots of people moderating without clicking on the link.

  • Quantum Fingerprints (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:44PM (#24424265) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if we'll someday be able to look at the quantum state of the molecules, atoms and subatomic particles making up even pure water, to learn about its history. The way that we look at the chemical composition now, with more familiar instruments.

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:47PM (#24424295)

    The Viking landers observed frost in the 70's. Mars obiters found huge amounts of water underground. Ice is clearly exposed in many photographs. Knowledge of ice and water on Mars goes way, way beyond "suspected". If detecting ice is all this mission yields, it's a big waste of money. This mission was intended to give detailed information about what's in the ice and soil, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

    The question for the last decade or two has been whether there is liquid water on Mars. Despite the low air pressure, even pure liquid water can exist in some places and times: aquifers, briny puddles and lakes, lakes enclosed in ice, etc.

  • Science education (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:50PM (#24424345)

    In the meantime, Chinese kids and other kids from developing countries are looking with awe and go on to study math and science.

    A generation from now, when they are the leaders of the World, our children will wonder why they're sweeping up after the assembly robots - Chinese will move their manufacturing over here because of our cheap labor. After all, they'll be busy inventing things and exploring space while we're watching the latest reality shit on TV.

    I blame the educators for making such a fascinating subject dull and harder than it has to be. Why, I really didn't understand derivative and integral calculus until I took Physics. A derivative is velocity?! Cool! And its derivative is acceleration?!? Awesome! And the integral of velocity is distance?!?! I have a hard-on!

    Why does it have to be taught on its own? Calculus was invented for science and teaching it as a separate subject just makes it completely abstract and a mechanical wrote type of process.

    That's just one example of how science education is this society needs to be updated, revamped, or whatever you want to call it. And I'm really glad that girls are being encouraged more to enter those fields.

  • Human condition (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:50PM (#24424351)

    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.

    Actually, I'd rather spend the majority of my resources on my children, which is probably a trait shaped by evolution to become part of the human condition. If you can send a mission to Mars without impacting my kids' education, future debt, or well-being, I'd completely support it.

  • Significance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3 AT phroggy DOT com> on Thursday July 31, 2008 @05:57PM (#24424453) Homepage

    Is there any particular scientific significance to the discovery of water on Mars that isn't related to the possibility of discovering extraterrestrial life? I firmly believe that extraterrestrial life does not exist (and never has), so everybody else's excitement about it gets a little old after awhile. Is there another reason I should be excited about this?

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:18PM (#24424797)

    Bullshit. The Viking lander saw water frost, as evident from the temperatures:

    http://www.solarviews.com/cap/mars/frost.htm [solarviews.com]
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1990/89JB03428.shtml [agu.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_2 [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Mars... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:40PM (#24425081) Journal
    I know you are trolling, but here is the truth: here is the truth [reuters.com] about the Church and Extra Terrestrial Intelligent life forms.
  • Re:Not so much (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:42PM (#24425113) Homepage Journal

    "How hard is it to build a dome that blocks out all harmful cosmic radiation"

    You don't build a dome. You dig a cave. You use nuclear or solar power to light lamps and let plants use that light instead of sunlight. You could also use mirrors, but you would need a lot of them because Mars is farther from the Sun than we are and Earth plants evolved for earthly amounts of light.

    Alternatively, if you really want a dome, you could build two and fill them with water. Then, if you are really clever, you can build the two domes in a way that concentrates the sunlight in a smaller area giving the plants both light and radiation protection. Sounds like an interesting architectural project.

  • Re:Water? Big Deal! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Oktober Sunset (838224) <sdpage103@NOSPAm.yahoo.co.uk> on Thursday July 31, 2008 @07:23PM (#24425571)
    I was going for funny, I thought Slashdoters were dedicated pun connoisseurs.

    And as far as corectness, that's a matter of perspective. Crude oil is just a mixture of hydrocarbons with a large enough formula to be liquid, and natural gas is hydrocarbons with a small enough formula to be gas. The fact that ethane, propane, butane, and pentane are in both just goes to show the distinction is arbitrarily based on phase. Unless you know some special reason why all the hydrocarbons are counted as crude oil, except the ones that are gasses?
  • Re:Hurray! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mjwx (966435) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @08:35PM (#24426283)

    Now we move to mars.

    Get your ass to Mars.

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @08:43PM (#24426359)

    Pure liquid water was never sampled by the Viking missions.

    So? Who said it was? The new mission hasn't found "pure liquid water" either.

    The frost you refer to I assume are the pictures from the Utopia taken by the #2 lander. That wasn't pure water.

    Of course that was "pure water". What do you think it was?

    The average air pressure in Mars is about 7mb, which is comparable to the top of Everest.

    No, it's not. The pressure on top of Mt Everest is about 260mb. The boiling point of water on to of Mt Everest is 69C. On Mars, it's about 10C (meaning water doesn't just sublimate, it melts first).

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