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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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  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EddyGL (15300) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @06:46PM (#41283413)

    How does this explain away the alleged river channels, deltas, salts found by the rovers, etc... etc... and other evidence of large amount of water?

  • Hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @06:55PM (#41283445) Homepage

    Even though it's Sci-Fi, I almost like to believe that human beings move from planet to planet, using up local resources and destroying them.

    The cycle would be constant, and self-fulfilling: We use technology to get off the old planet, and to settle onto a new one. Then a generation or so later, we blame the evils that destroyed the old planet on our technology, and swear it off so we can 'commune' with nature / our new home. This works for a few more generations until we realize that it wasn't technology that destroyed our old home, but our actions and stupidity. Then we we fight over how to 'save' our new home from ourselves, with half being against technology, and half being for it. Thus we are stuck in a disagreement, we try to do accomplish both angles at once. Something happens during this time (it's unknown, but recurring on every planet, and the records are always purged), and humanity begins fighting itself. The result of this fight ends in the doom of our new home, and we use technology to move onto yet another planet.

    To this degree, Mars and Venus may have been habitable planets (as well as the others) that have been destroyed by odd processes. And in time, they may become habitable again.

  • Re:What about this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Sunday September 09, 2012 @07:17PM (#41283559)

    Not that I disagree that water was the cause; However, all fluid is made of matter and can briefly suspend particles of other more dense matter thus providing the capability to form deposits and layering if said fluid is in motion. The Martian atmosphere is known to have Dust Storms -- I put it to you that these Dust Storms are such suspensions of matter having varied densities, and that the dust is, in fact, relocated. I believe that Mars was not always a solid rock because it shows evidence of volcanism -- Magma is also a fluid / matter suspension and is thus capable of forming layers of material. Unless we observe the actual layers and their material compositions we will not know how the layers formed.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @08:12PM (#41283861) Homepage

    Not much on the moon of any use. Mining stuff anywhere off earth is a long way from being practical. If you want to build a transfer station, do it in orbit (like LEO, just what the ISS is doing).

    Personally, I'd like us to spend more money and time on the Jovian satellites but then again, I'd like NASA to get to spend more money - lots more money. At the current piddly rate we're funding space exploration, you really can't expect to be able to pull off any major exploration goal. Right now we're just doing simple and cheap things (relatively speaking) and hoping that the funding situation gets better.

    You can certainly argue all day about whether or not it's an appropriate goal for a country, but you're not going to get very far with the nickel and dime approach we're currently using. Not that JPL isn't doing neat science - and given the financial limitations that they work in, they've done a fantastic job, it's just to really answer a lot of the questions we are posing and to enable us to even think about pulling resources from space, we're not doing jack.

  • by fsck1nhippies (2642761) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @08:47PM (#41284025)

    I completely agree with the "nickel and dime" approach. I was not suggesting that we mine the moon for resources. My use of the moon is to give us a stable structure to build a base on.

    The ISS is an awesome idea, but we limit our exposure to space by just sending supplies and equipment to the same spot without ever reaching further. The shuttle program was definitely a success if you are willing to limit your goals to just looking down on the earth in awe. Had we spent those 135 missions pushing toward the settlement of a body outside of earth, we would be further along. Hell, just 20% of them could have built an outpost on the moon.

    Don't get me wrong, I am glad we invested in the shuttle program. I just wish we used it to expand our capabilities instead of just doing the same thing over and over.

    Yeah, we are definitely underfunding the space program... I can draw similarities between our handling of the space program and our approach to education.

  • Re:Tunnel vision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @10:11PM (#41284447)
    There is no proof that the water features were caused by water. Mars bears geology that would require water on Earth. But that doesn't offer proof of water, just a strong hint. Continuing to look at it is likely being done with an eye on confirming it and figuring out what happened to it, if it was there. At this point, there is no proof of water. Just because your mind is closed doesn't prove the issue is.
  • Re:Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @10:53PM (#41284657)

    we don't have the means to increase Mars' mass by almost ten times! we can move mass on that scale, and the result would be an extremely hot molten mass that would take hundreds millions of years to cool off (your are essentially proposing the same process that formed the planets in the first place

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