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Mars Science

Despite Clay Minerals, Early Mars Might Have Been Dry 105

Posted by timothy
from the but-omg-mars dept.
astroengine writes "Early Mars may not have been as warm or wet as scientists suspect, a finding which could impact the likelihood that the Red Planet was capable of evolving life at the time when it was getting started on Earth. A new study presents an alternative explanation for the prevalence of Mars' ancient clay minerals, which on Earth most often result from water chemically reacting with rock over long periods of time. The process is believed to be a starting point for life."
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Despite Clay Minerals, Early Mars Might Have Been Dry

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  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @06:47PM (#41283417) Journal

    This isn't new news, but the scientific establishment that gets the budgets to conduct space exploration is selling us Mars because they know it is doable within the context of current budgets and technologies. Mars is pretty much way too dry and has been. It also lacks a magnetosphere and despite *one lame little plate* any hint of past large scale plate tectonics. Mars is interesting for sure, but it would be nice to also have a real base on luna with which to assemble a vehicle to take us on to Mars and with which to test technologies with the intent of sending humans on to Mars. Europa and even Venus deserve attention as well, but it seems Mars is in our comfort zone so we keep going back....

  • by udachny (2454394) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @07:24PM (#41283589) Journal

    Mars has no magnetosphere, it's has 89% less mass, it is half of the Earth's diameter. Mars could never really sustain a breathable atmosphere with oxygen and nitrogen just because of those characteristics, those gases would simply fly off into space, there cannot be enough density and pressure on the surface of Mars to hold a breathable atmosphere.

    Of-course living organisms can survive in various other types of atmosphere, for example carbon dioxide, but even that gas cannot be held by Mars in enough density for anything to breath it.

  • by spaceplanesfan (2120596) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @08:22PM (#41283911)

    Titan [wikipedia.org] disagrees with you.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @09:16PM (#41284161)

    2) It currently costs tens of thousands of dollars to put a single kilogram of mass into space. If you're going to get any kind of industry up there, it's going to cost trillions of dollars.

    It's currently around $5,000 per kg for the Russian launch vehicles. SpaceX threatens to halve that cost.

  • by udachny (2454394) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @09:28PM (#41284227) Journal

    Mercury too has an atmosphere, but it's also not breathable.

    It's possible to have very heavy chemicals as an atmosphere on a smaller planet than ours, sure, at very different temperatures, very heavy compounds.

  • by udachny (2454394) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @09:32PM (#41284245) Journal

    Oh, and by the way, Titan is inside the magnetosphere envelope of Saturn.

    So does it still disagree with me?

  • Re:Tunnel vision (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @06:31AM (#41286111)

    "There is no proof that the water features were caused by water."

    Yes there is. There is no known other way to make complete delta systems with meandering channels and point bars, such as the ones found in Eberswalde Crater [wikipedia.org]. It isn't the only example, but it is the clearest indication that at some times there was standing water on the surface of Mars. The only other possible explanation would be for some other liquid to be responsible, but it is very difficult to come up with an alternative that would make any sense. It certainly isn't the product of lava flows (no vents upstream, and the channels would have different geometries), and making liquid CO2 requires high pressures (supercritical fluid). What's left as an alternative? When you've eliminated all the alternative possibilities, the only thing left to conclude is that either you have a failure of imagination or the remaining hypothesis is correct: flowing water on the surface of Mars.

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