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Space Science

Mars Odyssey Begins Overtime 122

thhamm writes "NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter begins working overtime today after completing a prime mission that discovered vast supplies of frozen water, ran a safety check for future astronauts, and mapped surface textures and minerals all over Mars, among other feats. An extended Mission until 2006 has been approved, and I hope it will last that long, maybe doing more safety checks for astronauts :)"
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Mars Odyssey Begins Overtime

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  • by bagel2ooo ( 106312 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @04:27AM (#10076324)
    While I think a manned mission to Mars would be a wonderful idea. I ponder if we would be able to collect enough data to see if using "greenhouse" gases to supply Mars with a more human-suitable atmosphere would also be a good long-term goal. I know that would probably negatively impact our manned missions there for quite some time until the "incubation" is well underway or finished, but I think that with what resources we've been able to find Mars may be more viable for a station or colony than mars.
  • by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <john.jmaug@com> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @04:33AM (#10076338)
    NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter begins working overtime today after completing a prime mission that discovered vast supplies of frozen water

    So when did that happen? I remember checking in on slashdot all the time and there would always be some thing about the mars rovers almost discovering water, but always missing some piece of evicende or something. I don't remember anything about an orbiter finding huge amounts of water (well I was on vacation for a month but I figured it would be pretty big on the news or something.)
  • by pedestrian crossing ( 802349 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @04:41AM (#10076357) Homepage Journal

    Since they found indications of lots of frozen water near the surface in the south polar region, I wonder if there are any plans to send a probe/rover there?

    They found "copius hydrogen" in the area, and "Researchers interpret the hydrogen as frozen water", but can we be sure without taking a look on the ground?

    Seems like the next logical step...

  • mission performance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thhamm ( 764787 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @05:01AM (#10076396)
    i think i once read, that Mars was the "target with highest failure rate".
    so this is a pretty good performance, with the two rovers still working (after doubling their designed lifetime?), Mars Odyssey, MSGS and Mars Express.
    and the biggest objective a huge success: yes there is/was water.

    no need to argue about the use of robotic missions for me. if you asked someone 10 years ago about water on mars: "yeah. water. mars. sure ..." :)
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @05:02AM (#10076400) Journal
    An extended Mission until 2006 has been approved, and I hope it will last that long, maybe doing more safety checks for astronauts :)

    But surely the fact that Mars' surface gets 2 or 3 times what Earth's surface gets would stop any missions from happening anytime soon (as in, within the next 20 years)? Or is the radiation not actually a problem?
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @05:34AM (#10076483) Journal
    The radiation on mars will not be nearly as big a deal as the trip to mars will be. It is almost certain that initially, we will have to live underground rather than on top. If we do so, it protects us from Radiation, 300 MPH winds, Easier to insulate, etc.etc.

    I am in hopes that we will send a private mission to mars and not have them return. It would be far more useful to send a small mission on a one way trip, with a supply ship once a year. They could build a small base, expand our knowledge of Mars a million fold over what simple remote vehicles do today, just due to the fact that they would need all sorts of cpu power there. In addition, they would be able to control system there quickly.
  • by thhamm ( 764787 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @06:23AM (#10076585)
    The scientist, that claimed the Viking Probes [] showed signs of microbial life, now has a new theory. []
    He seems to see signs of water on recent Rover images, squished out by the wheels and the RAT tool.

    Even if there is/ever was no life, interesting find though, that liquid water exists on such a world. I think this raises the odds of finding life somewhere else quit a bit. Maybe Europa []?
  • by kippy ( 416183 ) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:17AM (#10077152)
    Landing on an earthlike Mars would be nice but not totally necessary for early astronauts. I'm about at pro-terraforming as it gets but even I think that landing humans on an un-terraformed Mars is best for science.

    At a talk given by Chris McKay this weekend, he was asked something like "when do we give up the search for life and start terraforming?" That's kind of a sticky question because it's kind of like proving a negative. However he pointed out a region in the southern hemisphere which is older than the north, still has an earth-strength magnetosphere and is Siberian in nature. He said that once a kilometer deep core is drilled, checked for life and nothing is found that there is almost certainly no life on Mars nor was there ever.

    It will take people to do that investigation. My personal hope is that nothing is found and terraforming can begin.

    For a good treatment of terraforming, read Robert Zubrin's "The Case For Mars".

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