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Mars Science

Curiosity Finds Evidence of Ancient Surface Water 79

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the drill-baby-drill dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Curiosity has wheeled its way over to the low point in Yellowknife Bay and has found veined rocks, evidence that water once percolated through this area. Scientists are excited because it is the first evidence of precipitation of minerals and water. There is also cross bedding that can be seen, thin layers of rocks oriented in different directions. The grains are apparently too coarse for the wind to have created, alluding to flowing water. Even with this discovery, much is still not known about Mars' past." Rather than quickly moving along to Mount Sharp as planned, they're going to spend some time drilling into the rock.
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Curiosity Finds Evidence of Ancient Surface Water

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  • we've finally discovered dehydrated water?

  • Too course (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slapout (93640) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:45PM (#42605901)

    "The grains are apparently too course for the wind to have created"

    Are they assuming Earth-like winds?

    • Re:Too course (Score:5, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:55PM (#42606019) Homepage

      IIRC from previous discussions, we're talking an order of magnitude in size between wind based fines and water modified particles. Also the structure tends to differ. Of course, the summary is light on specific details so if you really distrusted it, you could wait for the formal paper. But I'm inclined to believe that the rocket scientists over at JPL know what they are doing....

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Do they perhaps mean... coarse?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Probably not. Scientists tend to overlook these kinds of things. You'd better tell them about their mistake before they waste any more of our hard-earned tax money on it.

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      Are you assuming they're to stupid to know the difference between the Martian atmosphere and Earth's atmosphere?

      • by H0p313ss (811249) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:12PM (#42606301)

        Are you assuming they're to stupid to know the difference between the Martian atmosphere and Earth's atmosphere?

        Everyone knows Slashdot commentators are more qualified than any so called "expert". I know that when I have questions about areography I come here, not to NASA or JPL.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Are you assuming they're to stupid to know the difference between the Martian atmosphere and Earth's atmosphere?

        See, we here on Slashdot are what the Yiddish call kibitzers [wikipedia.org].

        See, we all have pathetic little egos and pathetic little lives and we waste countless hours up here talking out of our collective asses - sure there occasionally is someone who actually knows WTF they're talking about, but they get lost with all the other ass talkers who somehow get mod'ed up +5; so it's pretty difficult finding the folks who really know.

        Now, the parent is under the assumption that since he's so good at what he does (my assumptio

        • by Sperbels (1008585)
          Whoa...hold on. Are you qualified to comment on the expertise of everyone here? Do you have a masters in expertiseology? We're all allowed to make comments here. Believe it or not, you don't have to be a martian geologist to have anything intelligent to say on this.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Whoa...hold on. Are you qualified to comment on the expertise of everyone here? Do you have a masters in expertiseology? We're all allowed to make comments here. Believe it or not, you don't have to be a martian geologist to have anything intelligent to say on this.

            You don't have to be a martian geologist, but you should at least assume NASA consulted one. I mean, the top ranking comment right now is asking if they forgot Mars has a different atmosphere than Earth.

            Are you f-ing kidding me? That's not anything intelligent. It's a totally stupid arrogant question and deserving of ridicule.

      • Are you assuming they're to stupid to know the difference between the Martian atmosphere and Earth's atmosphere?

        Keep in mind that they did manage to crash a billion dollar probe into the planet because they made a mistake converting standard into metric.
        Also, one of the original rovers failed after 30 days because of a bug in the software they hadn't caught that would only show up after the clock had been running for 30 days. They'd never run the software for that long before landing.
        Then there's the entire Space shuttle design...

    • Are they assuming Earth-like winds?

      Honestly, I seriously doubt it.

    • by Theovon (109752)

      No. More like water-like sort of wind. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:54PM (#42606009)

    Dear wired.com,

    It is not necessary to re-load the entire page each time I click on a thumbnail. There is this thing called JavaScript which allows you to programmatically react to user events and alter document elements.

    Hope this helps,

    Anonymous Coward

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:01PM (#42606127)

      Dear Anonymous Coward,

      No, they can't do that! That would be like the ajaxy web-too-point-ohs, which is magically bad because get off my lawn I'm against this popular thing and that makes me cool and edgy why isn't anyone looking at meeeeeeeee!

      Sincerely,
      The rest of Slashdot

    • Dear Anonymous Coward,

      What's wrong with loading the full-size picture in a new tab?

      Sincerely,

      Those who don't want websites running arbitrary, unnecessary code in their browsers.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not a "trick" question....a real question: How do they know it was water and not something else like liquid amonia (like some other space bodies)?

    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:04PM (#42606187)

      Your solvent was a trick question, because water and NH3 are both polar so there is at least some overlap in solubility. Also they dissolve ridiculously well in each other. If you spec'd liq methane or some weird liq fluorocarbon then there's practically no overlap given methane is non polar.

      Anyway yeah its the solubility thing which is indirectly related to pH. Its not very hard on earth to figure out if something was sitting in a water tank or an ammonia tank same thing on mars.

      Also temp and pressure. Maybe you could do something weird with NH3 at 10 bar and 500 deg that looks kinda like water related corrosion, but no one will believe that happened on martian surface.

      • I doubt AC picked NH3 to be "tricky". It's still valid to ask "could this be the result of a non-water liquid?"

        It should be safe to assume NASA does what it can to rule out other liquids because, obviously, water is the one that gets them excited. One method might be mineral solubility; however, the only methods I've heard or read about are erosion and associated/ancillary processes such as sediment transport.

        Is it because I'm not a geologist that I don't understand why erosion can only be caused by water?

  • Rounded edge grains (Score:5, Informative)

    by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:02PM (#42606157)
    Some of the grains have "rounded edges", not sharp edges, very good 'evidence' Mars has had water in the past.

    In a Jan. 15 press briefing, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory researchers showed close-up photographs of the shallow depression, dubbed Yellowknife Bay, where the rover is located, about 500 meters west of its landing site. High-resolution photos of sand and rocks taken by Curiosity show signs of the presence of water in the past. Individual grains of sand have rounded edges from being "knocked around, busted up by some process," said Aileen Yingst of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson and deputy principal investigator for the Mars Science Lab. "Because they're relatively large on the sand size spectrum, [that] indicates water."

    http://m.iwgov.com/264939/show/a1412b9dd084473569011d6612b77cf8/ [iwgov.com]?

  • I thought this was a done deal. http://www.space.com/5546-proof-water-ice-mars.html [space.com] Curiosity should be finding underground caverns full of Martians. :)
  • The last time I saw a Mars article on here, it was faked. I'm still feeling the troll-burn from that. And this article is on a website I've never heard of also.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The ENTIRE surface of the planet is coated in a thick layer of iron oxide - i.e. rust - which cannot be created naturally without oxidizing the living shit out of some iron. Considering the tiny fraction of the atmosphere that's composed of oxygen (it's almost all carbon dioxide, which IIRC can't cause rust) then just how exactly do they thing all this rust was formed without water?

    The question has never been if Mars ever had water - that much is BLATANTLY OBVIOUS, of course it did. The question is how di

    • Re:Not a Surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LunaticTippy (872397) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:52PM (#42606841)
      Your question is one that has been answered [wikipedia.org] Mars lost its magnetosphere 4 billion years ago, allowing solar radiation to strip away its atmosphere. Water vapor was flung into space by this process over the billions of years, and any surface water will boil away due to the low atmospheric pressure.
      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Why is this modded insightful? His question was NOT answered and still isn't. We have postulated that Mars lost it's water because it no longer had a functioning magnetosphere. However, we have absolutely no clue why it lost it's magnetosphere or how to prevent the same from happening to earth.

        Describing a process does not mean you understand why the process started in the first place.

        • Why is this modded insightful? His question was NOT answered and still isn't. We have postulated that Mars lost it's water because it no longer had a functioning magnetosphere. However, we have absolutely no clue why it lost it's magnetosphere or how to prevent the same from happening to earth.

          Describing a process does not mean you understand why the process started in the first place.

          We know exactly how Mars lost its magnetosphere, and we sure as hell can't prevent the same thing from happening to Earth (despite what a really bad movie might have told you). Eventually, the Earth will lose it's magnetosphere the same way that Mars did: the mantle core will cool down, and you're no longer going to have a bunch of molten iron moving at the center of the planet.

          • by G00F (241765)
            It is speculated our very large moon keeps our mantle nice and hot. But will it keep it hot enough and long enough who knows. Our core isn't as hot as it once was millions of years ago, and our rotation is slowing down.

            Now, you may think that our gravity should be keeping the moons core hot, but the moon is locked, the same side if facing us, so no friction.

            So, in theory, if we gave mars a large stable satellite, we could heat things up inside.
        • by Jeng (926980)

          The answer is it lost its magnetosphere, which brings up the question of how did it loose it's magnetosphere.

          Just because an answer brings up further questions that doesn't mean that the original question was not answered.

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:50PM (#42606819)
    If there's water, there's oil. I DRINK YOUR MARS SHAKE.
  • They announced finding rounded stream gravel a few weeks ago. Other fossil water traces would not be a surprise then.
  • Enough with the surface water already, show us the diatoms!
  • by jpvlsmv (583001) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:03PM (#42606967) Homepage Journal

    Now that NASA has demonstrated that the rover technology in Curiosity works, why aren't we sending more of them up?

    The Skycrane landing had never been attempted before, but Curiosity landed intact. The analysis machines are working well, and are delivering good results from the rocks that are within 2 meters of the probe, but what about the rest of the planet? At the end of Curiosity's time on mars, we will have less than a square kilometer of the surface explored in detail.

    Why don't we send a few (dozen) more up to explore other valleys? This is like trying to figure out the Earth's geology by driving from Chicago to Gary, IN. (and only looking out the right side of the car)

    --Joe

  • I hope that the first life on Mars that curiosity finds is a cat, and that it runs it over and kills it ...

  • *yawn*

    I don't know about the rest of you guys but I'm starting to get really tired of NASA's 'water' discoveries every 6 months. Yeah yeah all the rovers and landers have discovered water now.

    Can we PLEASE send some biology detection experiments now?

    Viking landers detected signs of biological life, then discredit the findings and has since refused to send any more biological detection experiments to the planet.

    Why?

  • Surounding the large rock in the upper left of the picture looks like mud to me. Specifically just to the right of the shadow.

    Take a look at the high resolution image. Kind of looks like this to me:
    http://godschildrenblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/img_2063.jpg [wordpress.com]

  • I think the big non-story is actually the interesting one. It seems like while Mars might have had water and still has it perhaps in places, it might also be that the other chemicals on the red planet preclude it from ever having developed life.

"Pull the trigger and you're garbage." -- Lady Blue

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