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Mars Rover Turns Up Evidence Of Water 95

New submitter horselight writes "Recent data obtained from Mars indicates the environment is not as hostile to life as once thought. 'An examination of data gathered by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity reveals deposits that, on Earth, are only created by water moving through the rock.' The study's lead author, Steve Squyres, said, 'From landing until just before reaching the Endeavour rim, Opportunity was driving over sandstone made of sulfate grains that had been deposited by water and later blown around by the wind. These gypsum veins tell us about water that flowed through the rocks at this exact spot. It's the strongest evidence for water that we've ever seen with Opportunity.' Gypsum veins and other features indicating water movement on the surface of Mars have been observed to be much more common than previously thought."
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Mars Rover Turns Up Evidence Of Water

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:39AM (#39889519)

    Mars probes typically return this kind of water on Mars data every few years or so. The problem is, it's nowhere close to the water level found on Earth and therefore it's ability to support any form of life is quite low. I'm not sure how newsworthy this is. It doesn't make much sense to me.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:47AM (#39889629) Homepage

    ... as it remaining there for any length of time.

    With mars's current enviroment water on the surface in the summer at the equator would explosively boil away in seconds and even highly concetrated brine wouldn't last much longer. In the winter or at the poles its a toss up as to whether it would boil or freeze first. Either way liquid water cannot currently exist on the surface of mars.

  • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:48AM (#39889651) Homepage

    Nothing has changed, they just delivered a more detailed report of what we already know. :s/the environment is not/the environment was not/

    The presence of water is millenna old.

  • by Covalent ( 1001277 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:49AM (#39889661)
    Simple life lives here on Earth in the driest of dry places. Now Mars is dryer still, but that does not preclude the possibility of life still existing there.

    Furthermore, this is valuable information for any future manned Mars mission. Any such mission will need a native supply of water. And if there was water on Mars at one point, then there must still be at least a small amount left, though it's probably locked up in hydrates and under the surface.

    Finally, information like this is valuable as it shows that water on planets is very common (we've found it on Earth, Venus, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn). This lends credence to the idea that water is common on extrasolar planets.
  • by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:49AM (#39889673)

    the thing is, based on what we see water had to be quite common on Mars at some point. at that point the ability to support life would have been extremely high.. something has happened to the planet which has caused the water to not be on the surface, question is where did it go and why, and if there is still water under the surface does it still harbor life?

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:09AM (#39889869) Homepage Journal

    s/the environment is not/the environment was not/

    That struck me, too. Mars IS very unhospitable to life, but may have once not been.

    The presence of water is millenna old.

    No, the absense of water is millenna old. There seems to be little or none left today.

  • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:11AM (#39889889)

    The working theory is that the lack of a strong magentosphere on Mars has allowed the solar wind to cause much of the water that was once present to be lost to space

    And the atmosphere itself. Can't have liquid water if the air pressure is too low.

  • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:13AM (#39889919)

    We need to find water on Mars in order to support manned missions, bringing it from Earth makes the cargo weight that much heavier.

    Um...there's plenty of the poles.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:06PM (#39891351) Homepage

    Simple life lives here on Earth in the driest of dry places.

    All we know for sure is that life can adapt to environments with minimal water. What's unclear is how much water is needed for life to arise and gain enough of a foothold that it would be able to spread to the variety of environments we find life in on earth. Earth had the advantage of gigantic oceans, so there's a lot of space for different specific environmental conditions that might be suitable for abiogenesis.

    I just don't think we know about the subject to say how likely it is. If, however, life did arise (or arrive) then it surely would have been able to adapt to low water environments.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama