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Space Science

Mars Express Begins Search for Water on Mars 198

H_Fisher writes "The BBC reports that the Mars Express spacecraft team is ready to deploy a radar antenna to search for traces of water and ice beneath the Martian surface. The deployment has been delayed for a year due to concerns that the unfurled antenna might damage the spaceship. Mission controllers are optimistic; perhaps the ESA will be the next to make an important discovery about the red planet?"
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Mars Express Begins Search for Water on Mars

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure Wal-Mars has some water at low low prices.
  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by leapis ( 89780 ) * on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:52PM (#12427943)
    they already found water on mars [nasa.gov]!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:53PM (#12427945)
    The ESA's dog is very thirsty.
  • This'll be good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoseBag ( 243097 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:01PM (#12428012)
    AFAIK, all the "water" finds on Mars have been indirect - albeit very convincing - evidence of surface water in the past.

    But the radars on this puppy might just punch down - maybe only a few feet - and get a hard f*ing ice reflection, which would put paid to all the surmise and deduction. Then we would know its still there.
    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:31PM (#12428192)
      That's all true. But don't underestimate the desire of ESA to not believe it until Europeans have "discovered" water on Mars. Or to at least claim credit for some discovery. it is just a press release, after all.

      I also might add that this means large quantities of water. Water in small amounts has been visible at the poles in winter for years, and there are numerous pictures of water frost from the surface from Viking 2 in 1976. So there is water, known to some level of certainty, since the invention of the telescope.

      It's an interesting additional input, but it's hardly a new discovery.

      BTW - don't count the chickens before they are hatched. The type of struts used for the antenna don't usually like being stowed for too long - and now it has been stowed for a year or so longer than intended. Waiting may not have been the conservative move.

      It'll probably be OK.

      Brett
    • Well, this will presume that theres nothing we don't know about that can reflect radar like water ice. So this won't really close the debate. Bottom line, we'll have to send every doubter to mars and give them a bottle of aquafina to really settle things.
    • AFAIK, all the "water" finds on Mars have been indirect - albeit very convincing - evidence of surface water in the past.

      Radar sounding will produce no more direct evidence of water/ice than this [nasa.gov] or this. [msss.com] Radar just adds another plodding data point to something that has already been established, by NASA by the way.

  • Maybe... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:08PM (#12428058)
    The Long John Silver Restaurant chain [longjohnsilvers.com] will be willing to offer free shrimp [longjohnsilvers.com] for a second time if this finds any fresh water. Of a man's appetite can dream.
    • Free jumbo shrimp? Whats that like a Claw Shrimp?
    • The Long John Silver Restaurant chain will be willing to offer free shrimp for a second time if this finds any fresh water. Of a man's appetite can dream.

      "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast!"
  • by PenguinBoyDave ( 806137 ) <david@@@davidmeyer...org> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:15PM (#12428092)
    I bet we can charge twice as much as Evian gets!
    • I wouldn't laugh about the cost of bottled water. I know of an Australian dairy farmer who was getting ~32c/L for milk and later found a natural spring on his farm and was able to get ~50c/L for the water....Without having to get up at 4am :p.
  • Heh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:18PM (#12428107)
    A friend of mine is a planetary geologist that has been working with data from this probe since it reached Mars. He's reasonably convinced that Mars has had active hydrology in the recent past geologically-speaking, so from what I gather he'd be really, really surprised if they found no water at all.
  • Contamination (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lheal ( 86013 ) <lheal1999@nOsPaM.yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:33PM (#12428207) Journal
    I wonder how long it will take before the bacteria riding aboard the various spacecraft we send to Mars begin to spread all over the planet?

    If we then "discover" bacteria on Mars, imagine the excitement, and the loss. The loss of our chance to truly know if it was there already. The loss will go unnoticed, though, as anyone broaching the question will be lumped with the Creationists, an object of scorn.
    • by PornMaster ( 749461 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:39PM (#12428237) Homepage
      You say two-may-tow, I say tah-mah-tow. You say contaminate, I say terraform. Let's call the whole thing off...
    • I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to determine if they are very similar to anything that is found on earth. I'm sure NASA/ESA would take that possibility very seriously, since it would be without a doubt the greatest discovery in human history.
    • Re:Contamination (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @11:01PM (#12428366)
      Just to clue you in, it's fairly standard practice to thoroughly sterilize landers and probes before they get sent up to avoid that possibility... not to mention, even if something did get by, it would take a competent biologist probably 2 minutes to figure out it was of Earth origin... "move along, nothing to see here".
    • So how exactly would you propose to check for the existence of bacteria on Mars without sending a landing craft? Hubble?

  • Premature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peacefinder ( 469349 ) * <alan DOT dewitt AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:38PM (#12428232) Journal
    To quote Agent Smith, "They're not out yet."

    In this case, it's the antennas for the survey instrument that aren't out yet. While the engineers seem very optimistic that the antenna deployment will go well and allow the survey to begin, there also seems to be some trepidation that the deployment could seriously damage the spacecraft.

    Wait another two weeks, then celebrate the start of the search.
  • by notmyeye ( 877399 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:53PM (#12428327)
    ...the most expensive divining rod ever built...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowsing [wikipedia.org]
  • Mars Express spacecraft team is ready to deploy a radar antenna to search for traces of water and ice beneath the Martian surface.

    I can see the story now: Microwave beams from MARSIS radar melts ice causing chain reaction, releasing frozen atmosphere and water.

    "Quaid...Quaid...Start the reactor." [lambtron.com] .
    • "Quaid...Quaid...Start the reactor." .
      ... oh yeah, water AND hot/demure/slutty women. I can see it now. Of course, with NASA's luck lately, the f'ing probe is going to end up at The Last Resort, get drunk on a can of WD-40, and piss off the mutants big-time!
  • ...that the folks at ESA who operate Mars Express brace themselves for people with far-out ideas like Richard C. Hoagland, who's going to do some very strange explanations of the MARSIS radar images when we start receiving these radar images. Given Hoagland's reputation, you know it was happen literally at the drop of a hat. (rolling eyes skyward)
  • I couldn't find it. After hours of staring at the picture, I still could not find the water on Mars. Perhaps someone could help me out? I couldn't find the spam [smalltime.com] either though so maybe there isn't any and this is all a stupid joke.
  • Anybody can see the Martian icecaps in a telescope. I presume the article deals with discovering liquid water or water closer to the equator.

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