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Mars Space Science

New Images Reveal Pure Water Ice On Mars 179

Posted by timothy
from the grab-a-bag-on-your-way-home dept.
Matt_dk writes "Images of recent impact craters taken by the HiRISE Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed sub-surface water ice halfway between the north pole and the equator on Mars. While the Phoenix lander imaged subsurface ice where the top layer of soil had been disturbed at the landing site near the north pole, these new images — taken in quick succession, detecting how the ice sublimated away — are the first to show evidence of water ice at much lower latitudes. Surprisingly, the white ice may be made from 99 percent pure water."
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New Images Reveal Pure Water Ice On Mars

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:12PM (#29534193)

    The recent dogma has been okay I guess there is water but it's too saline for life to exist. 99% pure is more than adequate for life. The rational will be the pure formations are tiny droplets but there's no reason to believe that pools of relatively clear water haven't formed below the surface just like here on Earth where most of the water isn't fresh. It's funny how the dogma is so heavily slanted against possible life but one by one the conditions are being established for life. Surface life, unlikely but a large percentage of life on Earth is below the ground.

  • Re:Whoa (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:28PM (#29534337)
    Anon cause I moderated.

    Read Zubrin's [wikipedia.org] The Case for Mars [amazon.com]. Water is all we really need.
  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:54PM (#29534579)

    This is IMHO powerful evidence for recent warm wet Mars :

    'The other surprising discovery is that ice exposed at the bottom of these meteorite impact craters is so pure,' Byrne said. 'The thinking before was that ice accumulates below the surface between soil grains, so there would be a 50-50 mix of dirt and ice. We were able to figure out, given how long it took that ice to fade from view, that the mixture is about one percent dirt and 99 percent ice.'

    'The ice is a relic of a more humid climate not very long ago, perhaps just several thousand years ago.'

    Dr. Bryne talks about making this ice through 'frost heave,' but it sounds to me like Arcadia Planitia may have been considerably warmer during the geologically recent past.

    Remember, Mars has climate cycles, they cause the sublimation and freezing of both water and Carbon Dioxide, and both water vapor and Carbon Dioxide are powerful greenhouse gases on Mars. (As is methane, which is also present in the Martian atmosphere from unknown sources.) Presumably this ice dates from an earlier part of the climate cycle, when there was higher humidity. Higher humidity implies higher pressure and temperatures. Higher pressures could put the surface above the triple point of water, so that liquid water is possible.
    In that case, if the temperature gets high enough, liquid water become inevitable. That would (upon the next change in the climate cycle) freeze as very pure ice.

    The Europeans keep talking about sending a rover with a drill to Mars. I think we have now found a good place for it to go.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:55PM (#29534583)
    Yes. Allow me to reiterate that, yes.

    I would kiss my children and young grandchildren goodbye. Wave to the ex-wife. Kiss my main squeeze goodbye and squeeze her ass a little.
    Wave goodbye to all of them, and get my ass on the craft.

    And while I'm up there, I'd find my way up to the Martian Arctic, and find the Phoenix [planetary.org]. And decode my sons name engraved on the DVD.

    Did I say HELL YES!
  • Re:Lets colonize! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:57PM (#29534625)

    Ah, fair nuf. I was thinking a more general purpose fueling point that just getting up off the surface. I was under the impression that it was difficult to use H as a rocket fuel though. In theory it has a high thrust/weight ratio but in practice it's so hard to keep it contained and cold enough to stay liquid that the extra equipement negates any advantes that it has. Doesn't mean that it's impossible of course, just difficult.

  • big deal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ascari (1400977) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:18PM (#29534879)
    "pure water". It would be a lot more interesting if they found seriously contaminated water, with lots of organic compounds. Heck, raw sewage on mars would really make my day!
  • Re:Lets colonize! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Excelcior (1390167) <excelcior@all e y l a m p .com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:19PM (#29535427) Homepage
    Water = Hydrogen + Oxygen. Both make terrific fuels. While it's not necessarily the most expedient process on earth, Electrolysis is a simple and relatively fast method to separate the two using only solar power & a bit of salt (to boost conductivity).
  • Re:99% eh... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @09:16PM (#29535729)

    FYI, Raw sewage is also 99% water

  • Re:Lets colonize! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @10:40PM (#29536171)

    Well, oxygen makes a better oxidizer...

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