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Mars Space Science

A Third of Mars Could Have Been Underwater 167

Posted by timothy
from the younger-hotter-ocean-that-is dept.
Matt_dk writes "An international team of scientists who analyzed data from the Gamma Ray Spectrometer onboard NASA's Mars Odyssey reports new evidence for the controversial idea that oceans once covered about a third of ancient Mars. 'We compared Gamma Ray Spectrometer data on potassium, thorium and iron above and below a shoreline believed to mark an ancient ocean that covered a third of Mars' surface, and an inner shoreline believed to mark a younger, smaller ocean.'"
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A Third of Mars Could Have Been Underwater

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @09:43AM (#25801311)

    Scientists studying spacecraft images have a hard time confirming âoeshorelineâ landforms, the researchers said, because Mars shorelines would look different from Earthâ(TM)s shorelines. Earthâ(TM)s coastal shorelines are largely a direct result of powerful tides caused by gravitational interaction between Earth and the moon, but Mars lacks a sizable moon. Another difference is that lakes or seas on Mars could have formed largely from giant debris flows and liquefied sediments. Still another difference is that Mars oceans may have been ice-covered, which would prevent wave action.

    So it's a long shot, but what we know is that water definitely existed on Mars, so it's not that much of a long shot. We may have in our possession, evidence that a global calamity destroyed Mars in the way that the Earth will be destroyed in the galacticly near future. Perhaps the planets are getting closer to the Sun with each passing year? Whatever caused the devastation on Mars, could be avoided on Earth with the correct approach to discovering the truth.

  • Re:To prove it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:25AM (#25801813)
    Wait until we find signs of human civilization there and discover they made a last ditch effort to escape their destructive lifestyle by migrating to a new planet they called Earth.
  • by Mandelbrot-5 (471417) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:44AM (#25802041)

    The reason the people are researching this is intellectual curiosity, and for the grant money that pays the scientists bills. This information may or may not have any use to anyone alive today, but it is a part of the puzzle of how the universe works. Perhaps in the distant future, this information and countless other data points will help humanity solve some problem. Or it may be just a useless piece of trivia. The point is, we do not, nor can can we know what things we learn about our universe will be useful down the road. Better to collect all the observations we can in hopes that it will be of use.

  • by PolarBearFire (1176791) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @11:27AM (#25802745)
    Why controversial in the first place? Was there strong evidence that water never existed on Mars before? This is science, not religion. We believe whatever the data indicates, and if we are proven wrong, no biggie, science is served either way.
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @01:17PM (#25805029) Journal
    The question is why Mars would have oceans then and not now. Put water on the surface today and that which doesn't freeze will evaporate due to the low atmospheric pressure. The atmospheric pressure is low because Mars doesn't have that strong a gravitational field to sustain an atmosphere. So the question becomes, how did Mars ever manage to have an ocean in the first place? It's not likely that it was more massive earlier on so it's not likely to have ever had an earth-like atmosphere that recycles the water back to the oceans. Sans gravity, you don't get a steady-state atmosphere. Sans atmosphere, you don't get to keep your water. Bottom line - it's a problem full of paradoxes. Weird.
  • Re:To prove it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sorak (246725) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @01:58PM (#25805903)

    How much terraforming would you have to do to remove all evidence of an advanced civilization and a world war?

    If a nuclear bomb went off in New York City, and we wanted to pretend there was nothing there, we would have to knock down every building, melt down the metal, and place it back in the ground, find some way to convert plastics back into petroleum, plant a forest over the entire city, remove all the pollution and radiation from the air, dig up every corpse and remove items such as cell-phones, watches, and anything that is not biodegradable. Now, imagine doing this, with every city in the world...

    Couldn't they come up with a simpler cover story that allowed for an advanced civilization to wipe themselves out? Honestly, my point is that, for most notions, such as this, you have to ask yourself, how much effort, control, and sheer genius would be needed to hide a secret this big, and then ask, what are the odds of someone pulling it off?

  • Re:To prove it... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @02:19PM (#25806305)
    To quote someone else's sig here:

    Atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.
  • Re:To prove it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @03:45PM (#25807801) Journal

    He claimed that: the Moon is empty inside

    How does he account for the gravity?

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