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Mars Space Science

"Definitive Evidence" For Ancient Lake On Mars 102

Posted by kdawson
from the nor-any-drop-to-drink dept.
TheSync writes "Eurekalert reports on 'definitive evidence' for an ancient water lake on Mars. A UC Boulder research team has discovered evidence of a shoreline on Mars of a 3 billion year-old lake 80 square miles in area and 1,500 feet deep (roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain). Images came from the HiRISE instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Water carved a 30-mile-long canyon that opened up into a valley and forming a large delta during a time when Mars is generally believed to have been cold and dry. The lack of additional, lower shorelines, shows that the lake dried up very quickly. Of particular interest are the deltas adjacent to the lake. On Earth, deltas rapidly bury organic carbon and other biomarkers of life, making the Martian lake bed and delta a prime target for future searches for past life on the planet."
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"Definitive Evidence" For Ancient Lake On Mars

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  • Seriously, wouldn't it be neat if there was new evidence of water on Mars based on hi res pictures and someone would actually link to said pictures? That would be neat-o.

    Don't get me wrong, Defrosting Spots Over Polygonal Ground sounds interesting and all, but...

  • Old news? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A three billion year old lake? Geez slashdot, can't you be any quicker with your stories?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by No2Gates (239823)

      Hey mom, me an Billy are going swimming. we'll be back in about 12 years, ok?

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by grub (11606)

      God made a lake on Mars 3 billion years ago.

      2,999,994,000 years later he made earth.

      lolz
  • by CosmicRabbit (1505129) <jppequenao@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:59AM (#28390989)
    So knowing how on Earth water and life are so intrinsically associated, this seems like the perfect spot to send a future rover mission. In the past we got some inconclusive results from biochemical analysis of the soil in more arid zones of the red planet. Perhaps on this spot we can be more lucky?
    Also, the proof of early existence of liquid water on the planet also hints at a denser atmosphere and warmer temperatures on those times. This is very promising!
    • This is in fact one of four sites being surveyed for the next rover mission.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @02:32PM (#28393145)

      I still think that the best spot to send a rover to would be the most hazardous of all places to do so. That is to the bottom of the deepest part of the largest and deepest canyon on the planet, the Valles Marinaris. This canyon is deeper than the Earth's Grand Canyon. It is known that the bottom of the Grand Canyon has a microclimate all its own, wetter and warmer considerably than that of the plateau surface above it. At six miles deep, consider our own planet. The atmosphere on our planet has a pressure density at six miles above it that is not much thicker than that of Mars at it's 'mean sea level'. That is why climbers of Mt Everest need oxygen to survive for long, and at 29000 feet this is thousands of feet LOWER than the elevation distance from floor to rim of the Valles Marinaris! For this reason I state that pressure density of the Martian atmosphere at the bottom of the Valles Marinaris will be more dense than any other place on that planet. Add to this that winds on the surface of the plateau above probably have limited interchange with the air on the bottom and the inescapable conclusion is that even the composition of the atmosphere on the bottom may be quite different from that outside the canyon. If there is any surface water or flowing water on the planet it will very likely be in sheltered pools on the bottom of the Valles Marinaris. If there is refugee life on this rock, that is also the most likely place. Human visitors should be warned, however, that life even here may be ravenously hungry so should take precautions. That said, this valley should also be protected from contamination from visiting spacecraft lest the bugs it finds be our own. That further said, it is possible that assuming panspermia of sorts, life here could have originated on Mars in the first place, especially seeing Earth itself underwent several episodes of global glaciation like Mars today. How do we know that during our own global glaciation that we were not a 'red planet' as well, with red dust from volcanic eruptions covering our own water ice. So their bugs may look like OUR bugs and fool at least some of our scientists for honest reasons into thinking that contamination had taken place.....somehow. Other less scrupulous 'patho-skeptik' so called 'scientists' would probably take the same position knowing the opposite to be true for more sinister reasons: "If life was found outside Earth, then religion ON Earth would maybe fail under logical testing and cause religious wars so better to deny the fact as long as plausible deniability exists....these individuals, knowing the truth, would fiercely oppose any serious Martian exploration; or "If life was found indigenous to Mars, then this would be against the 'prevailing so called wisdom or party line' that establishment scientists were supposed to follow if they wanted to keep their careers"! Either one of these kinds of so-called 'scientists', and there are probably others that I have not thought of, in great numbers or influence could and would try to set us back progresswise for many years. They have done so before, and religious of various stripes have usually been at the bottom of it.

    • The main problem I see with trying to find evidence of life on Mars is that it lost its Mojo so long ago. Short of bacterial fossils I do not think that much will be found.

      3.5By ago, Earth had lots of single celled soup. Why would Mars be any different. It takes a long time to go from SCO(Single Celled Organisms, not a pariah to FOSS) to MCO and eventually to Vertebrates.

      If anything resembling a virus or SCO is found I'd be amazed, if they find higher order life I'd suspect the sources.

      $0.02.... that

  • How is definite evidence different from regular evidence?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MadLad (1331393)
      Definitive (adj.): supplying or being a final or conclusive settlement.

      Which proves beyond doubt that of which it is evidential.

      As opposed to ye olde ordinarey evidence which merely contributes to the probability that something is likely.
    • How is definite evidence different from regular evidence?

      It is different from supposed evidence. Remember, we have not gotten their yet, so until someone pulls up something wet there are varying degrees of "evidence".

  • is somewhere around 435 square miles, and 400 feet deep. In which way are the two alike?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      I believe they were talking about volume, though they didn't specify.

      Champlain is 30% larger than this lake by volume, but this lake is about 80% the size of Champlain by volume. Using the second figure, with a bit of hyperbole you can say "roughly equivalent". They like to do that kind of crap when describing stuff on Mars and other earth-ish sized solar and planetary satellites.

      Not the most accurate description, but it gives a rough idea of volume at least.

      • by Jstlook (1193309)
        I don't understand.
        How many football fields is this?
        How many Libraries of Congress fit in this lake?
        Standards! We must follow standards, or how else can we communicate?!
    • But Martian gravity is lower. When you normalize by the accelecration due to gravity the numbers will work out.
    • ...and, more importantly, did the Mars lake have a monster [wikipedia.org]?

  • I used to get excited about all of these Mars jazz... when I was a kid; after every other Popsci mag I used to read blathered about new evidence for life/water/robots on Mars, I started getting tired of it. Years later, they're still blathering about it; frankly, I'm tired of it. Come back when you splash land a rover into a giant pool of water which is then eaten by Mars sharks, then I'll be more enthushtaotiblastic.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:35PM (#28391495) Journal

      then I'll be more enthushtaotiblastic

      Dude, you're bitching about the fact we haven't encountered Martians yet, but you're speaking their fucking language.

      Gorblobberschnart, man, relax... the martians are there, "they" just don't want us to know about them. ("They" meaning various 3- and 4-letter government agencies).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        then I'll be more enthushtaotiblastic

        Dude, you're bitching about the fact we haven't encountered Martians yet, but you're speaking their fucking language.

        Not only that, but he left out the second 'e'. "Enthushtaotibelastic" means excited and interested, "enthushtaotiblastic" is a form of shark sushi. Honestly, people, this is first year stuff in Kiiwohl School. Grammar matters on Mars - if he'd said that to the local Gringkel, he'd be a steaming plate of enthushtaotiblastic now.

    • by geobeck (924637)

      Come back when you splash land a rover into a giant pool of water which is then eaten by Mars sharks

      The Mars sharks eat the pool of water? Then I suppose they tell the probe "Take us with you, man, 'cause we ain't got no water left! And besides, we'll shoot you with our frickin' laser beams if you don't!"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    For some dumb reason University of Colorado at Boulder is called CU Boulder, not UC Boulder. I just moved to Boulder and get corrected all the time by people.
    • For some dumb reason University of Colorado at Boulder is called CU Boulder, not UC Boulder. I just moved to Boulder and get corrected all the time by people.

      It's called Colorado University, not the University of Colorado, so it would be kind of dumb to flip the acronym. That and you'd create a bit of confusion with the massive University of California system, which goes by UC.

      Also, this isn't a big deal. Calm down.

      • Actually it is the University of Colorado. Several regional schools follow the same switch in abbreviation including KU, MU, NU, and OU. Each are the "University of" their respective states.
      • by 2short (466733) on Friday June 19, 2009 @01:23PM (#28392151)
        "It's called Colorado University, not the University of Colorado, so it would be kind of dumb to flip the acronym. "

        Almost as dumb as correcting people about things you have no knowledge of and are, as it happens, wrong about. The University of Colorado goes by CU. Colorado State University goes by CSU. "Colorado University" doesn't go by anything, because it only exists in your head.
        • Actually, Colorado State University has not gone by CSU since mid 90's. It wants to be known as ColoState. The problem was the CSU is used by California State University.
          • by 2short (466733)

            The top Google hit for "CSU" is www.ColoState.com, but the content of that page uses "CSU" extensively (and never mentions "ColoState"), so I don't know how badly they "want" to be known as ColoState. They call themselves CSU, just like everyone else.

            What's the point of "ColoState" anyway? It's not short enough compared to including the "rado".

            "The problem was the CSU is used by California State University."

            So they've learned from their CU brethren that the key to looking like a nationally prominent schoo
            • The choice was made back in mid 90's. The university keeps trying to go to it, BUT, others fight it. Basically, ColoState is new coke. The top ppl push it for a marketing ploy, but just about everybody fights that. That stuff happens all the time. "Invesco field at Mile High" name replaced Mile High Stadium, and other name for it; Diaphragm stadium. Oddly, it was the employees of Invesco that pointed it out and nick named it due to the same waviness and curvature of one.
              • by 2short (466733)
                I was just responding to your statement:

                "Actually, Colorado State University has not gone by CSU since mid 90's."

                This is false. It has gone by CSU all along, and continues to do so, including in all marketing materials I can find.
        • "Almost as dumb as correcting people about things you have no knowledge of and are, as it happens, wrong about. The University of Colorado goes by CU. Colorado State University goes by CSU. "Colorado University" doesn't go by anything, because it only exists in your head."

          I am honestly trying to be kind here. UCCS is the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. There is also a campus for Colorado University that exists in Colorado Springs. I say this as a resident of Colorado Springs.

          Respectfully,

          strike

          • by 2short (466733)
            "I am honestly trying to be kind here."

            That's cool. My comment, honestly, was trying to be snarky.

            "UCCS is the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs"

            Good to know. The University of Colorado at Boulder is CU. I've also heard CU applied to the University of Colorado system generally.

            "There is also a campus for Colorado University that exists in Colorado Springs."

            Do you mean Colorado State University, i.e. CSU? I've honestly never heard of an institution called simply "Colorado University", and even di
    • by osu-neko (2604)

      It could be worse. "CERN" is short for "European Organization for Nuclear Research". Even when you account for the French-English word order flips (the french version is "Organisation Europeenne pour la Recherche Nucleaire"), it still doesn't quite work.

      This was part of a plot by Werner Heisenberg to spread uncertainty, no doubt... :p

    • Probably to avoid confusion with University of California.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:16PM (#28391227)

    So where is the evidence that the lake was made of water? could be any liquid really... epic fail

  • Why are we still putting quotes around 'definitive evidence' ?
  • "Eurekalert reports on 'definitive evidence' for an ancient water lake on Mars. A UC Boulder research team has discovered evidence of a shoreline on Mars of a 3 billion year-old lake 207 square Km in area and 457 m deep (roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain). Images came from the HiRISE instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Water carved a 48 Km-long canyon that opened up into a valley and forming a large delta during a time when Mars is generally believed to have been cold and dry. The lack
    • Oh, you mean, "Standard Units" for scientists or countries that don't use the imperial system.
      • by Ractive (679038)
        Yes, Scientists outside Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States. Which are the only countries that do not state the metric system as their official system of measurement.
        • by PPH (736903)

          I can't speak for Myanmar or Liberia, but its been a few decades since I've seen a scientist in the USA use the Imperial System.

          Construction and the engineering to support it is still done in archaic units. Manufacturers in the USA have to build what the world will buy, which is largely metric.

      • by daem0n1x (748565)

        No, these are really standard [wikipedia.org].

        scientists or countries that don't use the imperial system

        Oh, you mean the whole world? The imperial system was abandoned decades ago.

      • by feandil (873841)
        which is pretty much the whole word, except for backward USA
      • by eclectro (227083)

        Oh, you mean, Standard Units" for scientists or countries that don't use the imperial system.

        You know, socialists.

  • UC Boulder (Score:3, Informative)

    by bobs2pacsvegaswirled (578500) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:38PM (#28391535)
    All of the original Big-8 schools without a "state" in their names reverse their initials. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are CU, MU, NU, and OU respectively. There is no UC Boulder. It is CU Boulder.
  • ... its a shoreline? By the old boat launches and bait shops?
  • Just a note that the University of Colorado at Boulder is abbreviated as CU not UC.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday June 19, 2009 @02:13PM (#28392867) Journal
    there. The reason is because Mars CAN be terriformed by plummitting a a few ammonia based asteroids from further out as well as a couple of ice based asteroids. It obviously would not occur overnight, but, once vasmir occurs, I would not be surprised to see us sending exploratory missions to locate resources on these asteroids. BUT, once life is discovered there, the west will not proceed with that (though I suspect more than a few other countries would push for it regardless of the life).
  • There is some atmosphere on Mars and 3 billion years is a long time. Shouldn't all signs of an ancient shoreline have eroded by now? What am I missing here?
  • Way too long ago to matter tho. Initially they sent a rover to earth and found no life here then, and that it was uninhabitable for them, so they went off to another planet far far away. The rover they sent here contained bacteria from their planet, some of which adapted and became the first forms of life here - thus we are all descended from martians. Not many of them left to go to this new planet - many of them didn't believe the planet was going to end, and the birthrates dropped there so the populati
  • Define "Definitive".

  • You know, like methane, or anything that is liquid at those temperatures.

    But is *absolutely MUST be water*!!!!1!!11one, mustn't it?

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