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Mars Space

Scientists Have Spotted the Signs of Flowing Water On Mars 260

New submitter universe520 writes: Using neat imaging technology that allows them to determine the chemical compound of a substance by looking at the light reflected from it, scientists have spotted the traces of flowing water on Mars. By looking at the dark streaks on some photos of Mars, Lujendra Ojha from Georgia Tech has found compounds that are made in liquid water—meaning that water may be trickling down those streaks when the climate is just right. From the linked Economist piece: Details remain to be worked out, including where the water in question originates. Possibly, it derives from subsurface ice. Or it might condense out of Mars’s thin, dry atmosphere. Wherever it does come from, though, the amounts in question are modest in the extreme. But even modest amounts of water are intriguing to biologists. If Martians evolved during their planet’s earlier, wetter phase, the continued presence of water means it is just about possible that a few especially hardy types have survived until the present day—clinging on in dwindling pockets of dampness in the way that some “extremophile” bacteria on Earth are able to live in cold, salty and arid environments.
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Scientists Have Spotted the Signs of Flowing Water On Mars

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  • Let's face it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 28, 2015 @11:48AM (#50613289)

    Life on Mars has already been discovered by somebody, but they're rolling out this news slowly so people don't flip their shit.

    • Re:Let's face it... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @12:13PM (#50613497)

      Considering even if there is life on Mars it's going to be a long long way from Little Green Men I don't see why anyone except creationists would flip their shit. And even then, creationists and cdesignproponentists will ignore it and do the fingers in ears na-na-na thing. So nothing really would change except smart people would redefine their picture of the universe.

      Even at that, considering how much material Earth and Mars have exchanged over billions of years, it wouldn't even really be that amazing for single cell life to be on Mars, especially if it has a common origin with life on Earth. If we proved beyond doubt that it had an independent origin, THAT would be big.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        Since it's a long long way from little green men, as you put it, I'm not sure why you think even a lot of creationists would "flip their shit". Some would, I have little doubt... but I'm not convinced it would really be that many.

        The existence of life, particularly very simple kinds of life, is not remotely incompatible with the bible. The existence of advanced *intelligent* life, however, may be.

        • The existence of life, particularly very simple kinds of life, is not remotely incompatible with the bible. The existence of advanced *intelligent* life, however, may be.

          Your statement that the Bible is not contradicted by extra-terrestrial life is true. The Bible only says God created life. It doesn't specify all the places where he might have put it, and it never says he didn't put it on other planets (in fact it is completely silent on the topic). Considering the Bible says he created the entire univers

          • Note: When referencing Internet trolls above, I was not referring to the poster I quoted, who made a perfectly rational post. I was referencing so many other trolls I read before I got to his comment and decided to write something. If it appears I was critiquing him, I apologize.
      • Even at that, considering how much material Earth and Mars have exchanged over billions of years, it wouldn't even really be that amazing for single cell life to be on Mars, especially if it has a common origin with life on Earth. If we proved beyond doubt that it had an independent origin, THAT would be big.

        Let's put aside the long timelines and asteroid impacts and focus on more recent exchanges. We keep sending probes to Mars, and I don't think we sterilize them before we send them. I know space is a ha

  • Alright we got some liquid water, time to for a trip to Mars.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they actually believe this, and this is not just another publicity stunt then they should be immediately start planning a mission that will send several probes to this location to observe this phenomena and collect data. But they probably just want billions of dollars to try to send people to Mars.

  • So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 28, 2015 @11:49AM (#50613311)

    Using neat imaging technology that allows them to determine the chemical compound of a substance by looking at the light reflected from it

    The author has never heard the term "spectroscopy?"

  • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @12:04PM (#50613413)
    This guy [technabob.com] could use a drink!
  • before the Apoco-lip-sync or something like that.
  • by furry_wookie ( 8361 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @12:47PM (#50613749)
    Pics or it didn't happen...

    Seriously, I wanna SEE some water, not pictures of where we think water used to be, where it was 10 minutes ago and left just before we got there....I wanna see water...real flowing, sparkling, water.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And then, I want to send a lander there to extract it, put it in little plastic bottles and sell it for $1+E08/liter: "Martian water. Sustainably sourced from a planet unspoiled for 4 billion years."

  • " If Martians evolved during their planet’s earlier, wetter phase..."

    Ah ... no.
  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @01:30PM (#50614121) Homepage Journal
    We need to send a Curiosity-class rover to this area. We should have a few on standby for just this sort of thing.
  • There are signs of regularly flowing water in my bathroom. No need to get excited about aliens. Although...
  • Is it just me or this is the 3rd or 4th time NASA confirm water on Mars? Or is it the fact that it's "flowing" water? Wasn't that already confirmed already?

    • There was indirect evidence of flowing water (those river beds that have been photographed many times). My understanding is that while briny water was the best explanation even for those observations, there were other possible gas outflows that could have theoretically produced similar results, so what we have here appears to be the first direct observation of surface flows of water.

  • We could send cucumbers to Mars and manufacture pickles

    Like a movie once suggested: The Pickle [imdb.com]

  • by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @02:04PM (#50614409)

    Pretty interesting really, my first thought was that the pressure was too low, but the Martian atmospheric pressure is right near the triple point of water [wikipedia.org]. For liquid water to be there the pressure must have gone up above the nominal 600 pascals to 611 or higher, and the temperature above 0 deg C.

    • That's for pure water. Perchlorate enhanced water can remain liquid at much lower pressures and temperatures. FTFA:

      Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

      • You caught me not reading TFA, although it does raise the question when/how the salt was dissolved in water in the first place.

        I wonder if the authors are suggesting that the rocket fuel for a return trip can come directly from the surface soil.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      For liquid water to be there the pressure must have gone up above the nominal 600 pascals to 611 or higher, and the temperature above 0 deg C.

      Note that the atmosphere is so thin, in the craters it can be double that. Compared to earth's nominal 101325 pascals, it's still just ~1%. Still, it's a lot more than nothing if you want to make a CO2-rich atmosphere for plants or split it chemically to make oxygen.

  • Canals!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @02:36PM (#50614705)

    So there were canals on mars all this time!

  • by think_nix ( 1467471 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @04:02PM (#50615333)

    If these signs are indeed water as we know it here on Earth, what does this tell us about the overlying upper Martian atmosphere? Any signifigant changes to what we have previously analyzed or hypothesized ? Is it possible that another type of atmosphere or environment could exist under the overlying crust ?

  • I want to apologize first for probably being too cynical, but I have to say this.

    Applying Occam's Razor to the question:
    Which of the two scenarios are more likely?

    A. There is water on Mars.

    B. There is a government agency, that a lot of people work for, who need money from a Congress that is in the middle of a budget battle, who have concocted a publicity stunt in order to justify their continued existence.

: is not an identifier

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