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Mars Space

Evidence Of Glaciers On Mars Suggests Recent Climate Activity 101

Last year, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured high-resolution images of the Red Planet which showed many mesas, valleys, and rock debris which appeared to be (geologically speaking) recent formations. A team of scientists from Brown University analyzed the photographs and found evidence that the terrain was carved by large glaciers much more recently than they thought possible. Climate activity on Mars was thought to have quieted over 3 billion years ago, but these glaciers would have been around within the last 10-100 million years. "The finding could have implications for the life-on-Mars argument by strengthening the case for liquid water. Ice can melt two ways: by temperature or by pressure. As currently understood, the Martian climate is dominated by sublimation, the process by which solid substances are transformed directly to vapor. But ice packs can exert such strong pressure at the base to produce liquid water, which makes the thickness of past glaciers on its surface so intriguing."
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Evidence Of Glaciers On Mars Suggests Recent Climate Activity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @07:04PM (#23177078)
    They've all migrated to Mars.

    It's an inconvenient truth...
    • Mars is a "cautionary tale", not an "inconvenient truth".
      Don't make me flog you with a "faustian bargain".
  • by vortex2.71 ( 802986 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @07:10PM (#23177116)
    Where was Al Gore when Mars needed him? Guess it is too late to bring back the glaciers now. Damn Martian SUVs!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Al Gore was too busy driving a hybrid taxi in New York City in the not-too distant future.
      • Sort of a Mel Johnson [] in Total Recall role, without so much condescension?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ppanon ( 16583 )
        Silly. Al Gore wasn't born yet.

        John McCain on the other hand, could have done something but instead accepted the claims of martian corporate lobbyists that evidence for martian climate change was inconclusive.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Al Gore is the lame one, and the lemmings who keep drinking the Koolaid while he and his buddies get rich selling bogus 'carbon credits' and goverments all over the world drool at the prospect of taxing us even more.
    • by Samah ( 729132 )
      Searching for Manbearpig.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Ahhh but don't you see? It was all Al's fault. The Martians listened to him and believed his Powerpoint presentation. So they cut back on green house gases until the planet froze in a perpetual ice age! And now he wants to do it to us! If we cut back on green house gasses, the glaciers will grow and polar bears will migrate south to eat our women and children. We have to stop this environmentalism crap or all we'll all be killed and turned into Bear Chow.
    • ..only they're mostly covered with dust from dust storms.

      Remember the patch of ice in a crater []? It's supposedly up to 200 meters thick. On Earth, that would be a glacier. What else could it be?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now they are affecting other planets! we all have to stop driving them, they are killing the dolphins, and now the martians, this could start an interplanetary war!
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @07:18PM (#23177172)
    Phoenix [] lands at the Martian arctic circle to poke around the icy soils there. It has a back-hoe arm and sophisticated chemical analyzers, but no wheels. It will last until the end of the year until the pole region enters the long winter night.
  • This should be one of those "back to the drawing board" moments for Mars climatology. How can you explain a change ice remaining so far south and then disappearing in the last 500 million years? A "Milankovitch styled wobble" might be one explanation, or perhaps good old fashioned solar forcing. But Earth is closer and would be subject to the same flux in any solar forcing.

    • "But Earth is closer and would be subject to the same flux in any solar forcing."

      But Earth is closer and would be subject to a more intense flux in any solar forcing.

      Inverse Square law, and all that.
    • by dryeo ( 100693 )
      The orbit of Mars is very eccentric and Milankovitch wobbles much more pronounced then Earths. Quite a likely candidate.
      Here's a quick overview of Martian seasons, [] note how the seasons are not equal in length due to orbital eccentrics.
      • Okay, agreed on the probability of the varying obliquity of the planet over time (ala Milankovitch styled wobbles for Mars) Referencing the discussion and diagrams on Page 3 & 4 of the Google preview of Michael Carr's book [], even though there's no real way to project backward past 10Mya (according to the book). I'll assume that there would be significant wobbles before that, just that we can't really predict the nature of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Liquid water was already proven to exist on mars. Photographic evidence showed flows lines that did not exist in 1 photograph existing in another. Can we please put this to rest once and for all? There is water on mars, and yes its in liquid form, and yes, somehow it surfaces and flows without evaporating right away.

    • by JetJaguar ( 1539 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @01:12AM (#23179416)

      Umm... No. The current presence of liquid water has not been confirmed. The best evidence that we've found so far is actually not inconsistent with a dry flow down a steep hill. The flows could still be water, and that can't be ruled out. However, it has not been confirmed.

      The fact is, all of us really want there to be liquid water on Mars, it will be a major break through if and when it happens. However, no matter how tantalizing the images are, they still don't confirm the presence of water....yet.

  • Ice Ice Baby...

    Hammertime! = No more glaciers.

    And while we're here. Could a glacier exist on mars with its little gravity and no atmosphere? Obviously not; if there aren't any.

    So what conditions have changed in the last 10-100 million years? The gravity shouldn't have changed - no large scale reduction in mass there. Probably no magnetic field due to no spinning around an iron core - this means an atmosphere that doesn't get blasted away by any sort of solar flare would be nigh impossible to keep up. There
  • An occasional large meteor may perhaps re-heat the surface, creating temporary but heavy flows of brine.
  • Okay, so I don't want to add my voice to the trollship, but the word 'recent' is a little bit ambiguous here. Whenever history of planets is discussed words like 'recent' and 'new' get overstretched.

    would it not be clearer if we added a prefix to show exactly how recent an event was?

    so you would have megarecent, gigarecent, terrarecent...
  • according to Larry Niven's Rainbow Mars [], it's Yggdrasil which caused Mars to die.

    Joking aside, an excellent book.

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