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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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  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:34AM (#39889465)

    Howard managed to get if off the ditch?

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phayes ( 202222 )

      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 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.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by phayes ( 202222 )

          You're mistaken/misinformed/ignorant. That's not necessarily a bad thing (we were all that way once) but you shouldn't try to correct those who know more about the subject than you do. We've known for decades that the Martian icecaps are in part water, The Phoenix lander confirmed the presence of highly brinated water ice at it's site in 2008 & the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered signs of flowing water in 2011.

          The presence of water on Mars in a geologic sense (as in what is needed to produce gyp

    • 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?

    • it's nowhere close to the water level found on Earth

      The evidence for larger quantities of water may lie well below the surface. Far out of reach of the current rovers. Hence the reason for Curiosity []. Stay tuned...

    • "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"

      Conjecture much?

    • by Kelbear ( 870538 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:32AM (#39890165)

      This is news for nerds, who are fascinated by the prospect of life on Mars in the past. Any additional, or supportive information is another opportunity to ruminate over the possibilities. Finding evidence of life on Mars also breathes life into our most cherished nerd dreams of what might be out there. Everything I know so far just tells me space is essentially empty and forever beyond mankind's reach. But if we can find evidence of past life on Mars, it would be an anecdotal data point saying that the universe might be brimming with life such that 2 planets within a single solar system could have life on them. It'd be nice to know that we're not the only ones out there, even if we can never know any of them.

      Right now in the grand scheme of things, it seems that we live short brutish lives, and even the lifespan of our civilization will be incredibly brief, before the universe as we know it returns to being just...empty. When we die it's comforting to know that we are survived by our friends and family(at least for a while). When humanity goes extinct, it would be nice to know that there's probably life somewhere in the universe will continue (for a while).

      • speak for your own nerd dreams. i'm mining Martian algae as an elixir that will give me eternal life, and I will destroy all stocks and mines I don't control to maintain a monopoly. And I will use this eternal life to destroy every civilization I find, including Earth, out of a personal vendetta against the girl who didn't talk to me in High School. that's my nerd dream

      • There's actually a pretty good chance that life anywhere in the solar system would be related to us. The Earth has had enough major asteroid impacts blowing bits of our crust off that some hardier bacteria, virii, molds, etc have almost certainly managed to reach most every corner of our solar system, though whether they managed to and set up housekeeping is a completely separate question.

        One of the implication of this is that if we find life on Mars it doesn't actually tell us all that much about how commo

        • Right, except i think its premature to assume that Earth was/would be the origin of panspermia within our solar system.
          • Quite right, but since we're only certain that life has ever existed on one planet it makes it a natural "first guess". If we accept the premise of panspermia though then it becomes much more likely that the ultimate origin of life wasn't even in this solar system, after all sunlike stars existed for billions of years before our own sun formed, seems much more likely that life hitchiked to this solar system from elsewhere. Especially given the existence of things like the Tardigrade which can survive vacu

    • So far it sounds to me like the evidence that there was water on Mars, not that there is water on it. I'm sure that there was water over the Sahara desert at some point too... Agreed, not really newsworthy.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if this discovery (major or minor...) was made due to the extensions in the mission plan? How much discovery has been made because of both the mission extensions and the skills of the team operating it?

  • 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.

  • Could this have any bearing on the position and location of lava tubes on Mars? []

  • 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 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.

  • There is plenty of evidence of water in space, problem is whether it harbors life or can support life. As soon as we find life elsewhere, it will change everything we believe about life on earth. I can't wait for that day to come.
  • Was listening to this in the audio book just yesterday. Yeah, the book published seven years ago that already has a Disney cartoon made of it...With the recent awakening of the rover 'Opportunity' from it's winter slumber I am looking forward to new reports containing new info.

    Now if we can only get a squeegee to mars to clean them panels.

    Roving Mars [] A good read.

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:14AM (#39889929)

    NASA, you know I love you, but it's time for an intervention.

    It's time to stop pretending to be surprised every time you find evidence for water on Mars. The evidence for a persistently wet -- or at least damp -- ancient Mars has been indisputable for a decade. Move your press releases beyond that, to the same questions you're asking in the scientific literature: just how much water, when, and for how long?

    • More like since 1971, when the Mariner 9 orbiter found ancient dried up river beds. As such, Mars probably had life well beyond the simple single-cell lifeform stage in ancient times, but as the atmosphere got thinner, the surface life went away, but it's possible the simple-celled life still exists beneath the surface now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:17AM (#39889965)

    They'll have all the budget they'll ever need.

  • Rover, start the reactor.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So there might be water there...we can't even get back to the moon let alone establish a base there yet we waste tones of money on 'pie in the sky' dreaming. It's so sad the Chinese will probably beat us to the moon and if there is a chance to turn it into a commercial venture do you really think they will use it for the benefit of earth-kind?
    All the money spent designing and testing mars habitats and human rovers would probably have paid for us to be back on the moon. And I somehow think that if we accompl

    • by doston ( 2372830 )

      So there might be water there...we can't even get back to the moon let alone establish a base there yet we waste tones of money on 'pie in the sky' dreaming. It's so sad the Chinese will probably beat us to the moon and if there is a chance to turn it into a commercial venture do you really think they will use it for the benefit of earth-kind? All the money spent designing and testing mars habitats and human rovers would probably have paid for us to be back on the moon. And I somehow think that if we accomplish that it makes the next step...Mars, that much easier and cheaper.

      And who were you thinking would be most likely to use it "for the benefit of earth-kind? The US? LOL!!

  • SHOCKING NEWS! (Score:3, Informative)

    by bertok ( 226922 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:34AM (#39890193)

    The previous 500 articles about evidence of water on Mars just weren't sufficient to drive the point home. Anyone could have missed these articles that are posted. Every. Bloody. Month.

    Mounting Evidence for Water on Mars []
    Surprising Further Evidence for a Wet Mars []
    Mars Images Reveal Evidence of Ancient Lakes []
    Strange Globs Could Signal Water On Mars []
    New Images Reveal Pure Water Ice On Mars []
    "Puddles" of Water Sighted on Mars []
    Positive Proof of Water on Mars []
    A Third of Mars Could Have Been Underwater []
    NASA Says Mars Once "Drenched With Water" []
    Recent Evidence Of Water On Mars Near Equator []
    NASA Announces Water Found On Mars []

    I suspect NASA has a PR department dedicated to nothing else other than churning out press releases about discoveries of water on Mars, and for some strange reason, every one of them must be reposted on Slashdot by some OCD person.

    You think I'm exaggerating? Check this out []! A search for "water" and "mars" restricted to the "" site yields over 842,000 hits. That PR department has been busy!

    I can't wait for the MSL rover to arrive this August so that we can read even more fascinating press releases about hints of water on Mars.

    • by jbssm ( 961115 )
      Oh, NASA does this everytime their budget is on a stake. It's been a slow decade is space you know, so, they either invent new earth-like planets in the habitable zone of other starts - that in the end, after scientific peer review, seem like fake data - or, they say something really true... they found water on Mars... again.
    • And thats even before the Tea Party wields its knife in a possible Romney victory later this year.
      These researchers are fighting for their careers!
    • I think you're all missing the point. No shit there's water there, we all know that. It's not a PR attention hunting stunt. Squyres is trying to tell a global story about the history of water. Water in and of itself doesn't excite them very much.
  • Oh, is it next month that NASA has to renegotiate its budget with the US Congress?

    Because they always give a big news stating the found evidence of water in Mars by that time. It's what, 10th year in a row we ear the same news? Those congressman should be a bit senile if they have to be remembered the same fantastically awesomely legendary big news about water in Mars every year.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If we believe that the water and atmosphere were lost because Mars lacks a magnetosphere, the question comes to mind: could we create a magnetosphere? Put rings of electrically charged satellites in orbits, using solar panels or small nuclear reactors maintain their charge. If that's not enough fast motion, make the satellites into electron guns, each satellite aimed at where the next satellite will be able to collect the particles???

    • by Jeng ( 926980 )

      You would only need satellites between the Sun and Mars so you don't need a complete ring of them, what you would need though is more power than what is currently generated by mankind on Earth.

  • Not to be a bummer, but there have been other similar stories regarding evidence of water on the surface of mars. Nothing new here, we still can not prove it and there is no water there now.

    Don't take my word for it. Water on Mars Wiki []

  • Opportunity did find water and waited to keep glory for itself.
  • If a Martian TV camera is ever found, I'm sure it will be found by Steven Squyres.
  • Quiet. We're not even to the asteroid belt yet!

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