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Mars Space Science

Ancient Mars Ocean Found? 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-was-in-the-garage-all-along dept.
astroengine writes "With the help of rover Curiosity, we now know that ancient Mars had large quantities of liquid water flowing across its surface. However, evidence for large bodies of water — i.e. seas/oceans — has been hard to come by. But using high-resolution orbital data, Caltech scientists now think they've found a long-dry river delta that once flowed into a very large body of water. Welcome to the Aeolis Riviera — the strongest evidence yet for a Martian coastline. "This is probably one of the most convincing pieces of evidence of a delta in an unconfined region — and a delta points to the existence of a large body of water in the northern hemisphere of Mars," said Roman DiBiase, Caltech postdoctoral scholar and lead author of the paper that was published (abstract) in the Journal of Geophysical Research."
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Ancient Mars Ocean Found?

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  • Not all that flows is H2O. Not sure how they could determine the chemical composition of what formed these.
    • by formfeed (703859) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @12:24AM (#44305513)

      Not all that flows is H2O. Not sure how they could determine the chemical composition of what formed these.

      Yeah. But they also found blueberries. And blueberries need water.

      3..
      2..
      1..

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If Mars used to be Class M, then sure it had roddenberries.

    • by osu-neko (2604) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @12:54AM (#44305611)

      Not all that flows is H2O. Not sure how they could determine the chemical composition of what formed these.

      Well, for that matter, the delta-like feature could have been sculpted by aliens. However, it's generally safe to rule out any absurdly unlikely reason when a far more likely one is available. There aren't a lot of candidates for alternate liquids to occur in large enough quantities at that location. In fact, I'm only aware of the one candidate, unless you want to resort to bonkers-level improbabilities (the chemical equivalent of "aliens did it")...

      • Perhaps they are thinking of lava flows such as we have seen on the moon.

        • by spike hay (534165)

          Alluvial deposits look nothing like lava flows.

          • Agree. i was just trying to answer the earlier question which was what other than H2O produces large flows. Personally i believe it was water but the only other large flows i have seen is lava. I agree it was not lava that did this.

      • There's a bunch of hydrocarbons that form liquids at the temperatures found on mars. The atmosphere still contains traces of methane.

        • There's a bunch of hydrocarbons that form liquids at the temperatures found on mars.

          At what pressure? This matters as much as temperature in determining the phase of a substance.

          • by Khyber (864651)

            Given the similarity of mass between the moon and Mars, probably 1/6th pressure, assuming there was an atmosphere in the first place to keep it all there, which, as we see........

            • Planet mass doesn't have much to do with atmospheric pressure. Venus is around the size of Earth, yet the pressure is 90x higher on its surface.

          • What ever the pressure was before the atmosphere was torn away by the sun when it lost its magnetic field, providing it used to have one.

        • by PPH (736903)

          We send a rover to Mars. It picks up some rocks and does a few tests on them. Analysis can reveal the most likely liquids in which certain minerals will dissolve, re-crystallize and what sort of metamorphosis we are likely to find.

        • by spike hay (534165)

          Like the other poster said, not at the pressures you see on Mars, and not at normal temperatures. Ice can't even exist on the surface of Mars without sublimating away. If it occured in the past when atmospheric pressure was higher, then the temperature would have been higher from the greenhouse effect, meaning that it wouldn't be cold enough anyway.

          Also, Mars has an oxidizing atmosphere, hence the red color. That isn't compatible with free hydrocarbons on the surface. That and you'd need a lot of hydrocarbo

  • by mendax (114116) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @12:22AM (#44305497)

    This is great news, not surprising, but great none the less. It's just that more evidence that Mars was a living, breathing planet, and might still be that way in some limited forms. Or perhaps not even all that limited if life on Mars never went beyond the microscopic form. But I'll get really excited and piss in my pants with giddiness if we learn that the transpermia theory has been confirmed and that life on Earth started on Mars. But that's a long, long way away.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We escaped from Mars to earth for a simpler life after removing all evidences of technology, as we realized how it was destroying society.
      Or at least that's what people WANT you to believe.

      Xenu clearly used a death ray on the planet in an attempt to get rid of us once, turning it into a dust ball!
      Long live Xenu! Earth is next!

    • Re:Marvelous news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by As_I_Please (471684) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @02:22AM (#44305863)

      If it were up to me, I'd prefer that Martian life had no relation to life on Earth. Two results from this:

      1) It will give us new information on the kinds of life that can exist (Is it carbon-based? Does it need water?). Similarities add constraints on how life must be; differences remove them.
      2) It will all but prove that life is plentiful in the universe. If life independently emerged twice in the same solar system, then wherever it is possible for life to exist, it will be found.

    • But I'll get really excited and piss in my pants with giddiness if we learn that the transpermia theory has been confirmed and that life on Earth started on Mars.

      What will you do if it's the other way around (life on Mars started on Earth)?

    • by Khyber (864651)

      "It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles."

      Hate to rag on someone's sig but there are worse places than LA that I've lived in...

      If I had lived on Mars, I'd likely say something far worse towards it than anything LA could throw at me.

  • by Trax3001BBS (2368736) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @12:49AM (#44305587) Homepage Journal

    One would expect a large body of water there. How the Universe Works "Extreme Planets" mentions a theory of Mars
    being hit by an object moving the Northern hemisphere crust to the Sorthern hemisphere.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2t2VkDYOfYM#t=12m33 [youtube.com] (12:33 in, link starts there)
    I would assume leaving the Northern side lower as a result.

    • I would assume leaving the Northern side lower as a result.

      Ah duh, rewritten and that was removed, then pasted the draft.

  • That's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @01:10AM (#44305669)
    No, I'm not kidding. It's really nice. It's the umpteemth conformation that Mars once had water. WE GET IT. MARS ONCE HAD WATER. Boots. Mars. Do it, NASA. This isn't rocket science.
    • Re:That's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @02:40AM (#44305905) Homepage Journal

      Boots. Mars. Do it, NASA. This isn't rocket science.

      No, unfortunately it's political science.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, I'm not kidding. It's really nice. It's the umpteemth conformation that Mars once had water. WE GET IT. MARS ONCE HAD WATER. Boots. Mars. Do it, NASA. This isn't rocket science.

      Are you Cave Johnson? All you are missing is something about banging rocks together and lemons.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here's the obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com] reference.

  • Maybe a subsurface probe that drills down where we expect to find liquid water, then to tests there? Maybe just dig a deep hole and test. Hell, set off a bomb if you have to. Our best bets are under the dirt now.

  • by ControlFreal (661231) <niek@bergbo[ ]net ['er.' in gap]> on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @07:11AM (#44306767) Journal
    This is all caused by XKCD [xkcd.com].
  • Sad, but it has really gotten to the 'well, duh' stage.

    We get it NASA. Mars once had lots of surface water. Said water is now probably sub surface, having sunk in as the core cooled. Now go and drill some wells for oil, gas and water.

  • Doesn't it appear that the water would have been flowing upward, away from the lowest point on the lower part of the image. Assuming nothing changed that much since there was water, that seems really odd. It looks like the flowing sediment and stuff avoided the bottom part for no apparent reason. In every delta I've seen on Earth, it doesn't do that.
  • I'm tired of all the "water on Mars" reports. No jar of water, then NO WATER!
  • Where's Helium around that delta?

                mark "and is Dejah Thoris lounging by the Aeolian Riviera?"

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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