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Mars NASA Space Science

Mars Orbiter Finds Buried Dry Ice Lake 96

Posted by timothy
from the hip-cocktails-all-around dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found a giant buried deposit of dry ice, which could be evidence that Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and was able to have more water on its surface. The orbiter's ground-penetrating radar found the dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide, near the planet's south pole. The scientists think that when Mars' axial tilt increases, the carbon dioxide turns into a gas, thickening the atmosphere. The result would be more intense dust storms, but also a wider range of areas where liquid water could exist."
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Mars Orbiter Finds Buried Dry Ice Lake

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  • Re:Wowza (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:03PM (#35902800) Journal
    Probably the easiest(in terms of being comparatively low-tech, easy to scale, and having numerous positive side effects), is a time-tested technology we call "Plants".

    Given a few nutrients, a supply of CO2, and their favorite flavors of photon, those suckers are pretty efficient at turning CO2 into O2 and assorted carbon compounds, many with structural or culinary applications(and pretty easy to turn to straight carbon, if you prefer).

    A hypothetical exploitation of these dry-ice deposits would presumably involve underground greenhouses(for protection from dust storms and insulation) lighted by LEDs emitting the correct bands for optimal plant growth, and provided with a moisture and CO2 rich environment by some sort of melting mechanism, probably mirrors or a radiothermal unit.
  • by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:05PM (#35902812)
    Doesn't that also mean that solar radiation is a cheap and abundant source of power? Is there the possibility of a surface-based Dyson-Harrop type system?
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Friday April 22, 2011 @09:02AM (#35905642) Journal

    Carbon dioxide is not the key here. After all, Mars and Venus are both primarily CO2 atmospheres (Earth:Nitrogen). However the two planets have vastly different temperatures, even after accounting for Venus's increased solar radiation. What I think is the key here, is pressure at the surface. Releasing more CO2 on Mars won't increase the greenhouse effect (diminishing returns), but it will make the surface atmosphere denser, which means higher surface temperatures, at least until it gets stripped away by the solar wind, because Mars does not have a protective magnetic field.

    Which brings in my model of how it all got there. After the magnetic field died, the solar wind stripped the atmosphere until it wasn't dense enough to maintain liquid water... Then the same came true for gaseous CO2. Logically it accumulated in the first place it started to get cold enough to solidify. I doubt we'll see it get released due to 1) still not mag field and 2) its in the last place to heat up.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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