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Mars- it HAD water

junglisthead

TRIBE Member
http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/03/02/mars.findings/index.html

NASA scientists say the Mars rovers have found what they were looking for -- hard evidence that the red planet was once "soaking wet."

"We have concluded the rocks here were once soaked in liquid water," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University. He's the principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit.

"The second question we've tried to answer: Were these rocks altered by liquid water? We believe definitively, yes," Squyres said.

Squyres and other NASA officials made the announcement at NASA headquarters in Washington, after several days of giving tantalizing hints that something significant had been discovered.

"Three and a half years ago, in July 2000, we were on stage here to talk about sending two rovers to get evidence of past water. NASA and its international partners have turned those dreams to reality," said Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for space science.

Scientists used instruments on board the golf cart-sized rovers to study the composition of the rocks and soil on the planet. The rocks' physical appearance, plus the detection of sulfates, make the case for a watery history, and more important, an environment that could have been hospitable to life.

While reporters pushed the scientists to come up with a "when" for the existence of water on Mars, Squyres said it was very difficult to infer an age simply by looking at pictures. He said a physical examination of samples would be the only way to to get close to a time frame.

Squyres did offer a couple of scenarios on what might have happened that led to the current discoveries:

One is that there was a volcanic eruption, possibly many eruptions, and volcanic ash settled out onto the Martian surface. Subsequently, water could have percolated through the ground, altering the ash to the chemical composition it has today.

Another possibility, said Squyres, is that there was a salty sea at the Meridiani Planum location, perhaps with currents, possibly even waves. As the water evaporated, the salt would settle out.

"Both are fundamentally possible," said Squyres. "But we may never know."

Spirit and Opportunity were sent to opposite sides of the planet with the possibility of investigating different types of terrain. Spirit, the first rover to arrive on January 3, landed near the Gusev Crater, which may once have held a lake.

But geologists and other researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, were thrilled when they saw the possibilities surrounding Opportunity, which landed three weeks later. It landed inside a small crater in the Meridiani Planum, one of the flattest places on the planet. And its landing site was within driving distance for the spacecraft to reach an exposed slice of bedrock.

Since its landing January 25, Opportunity has used the same tools as a human field geologist would to determine the chemical contents of the rocks. Using an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, a device that can identify chemical elements, scientists have identified a high concentration of sulfur in the bedrock.


The Mars rover Opportunity examines an area dubbed "El Capitan."
Another instrument on board, a Moessbauer spectrometer, has detected an iron sulfate mineral known as jarosite. From their knowledge of rocks on earth, scientists say rocks with as much salt as this Mars rock either formed in water, or had a long exposure to water after they were formed. The scientists say these rocks could have formed in an acidic lake or even a hot springs.

Scientists say the case for a watery past is further strengthened by the pictures taken by the rovers' panoramic cameras and its microscopic imager. One target rock, named "El Capitan," is filled with random pockmarks. Geologists say a texture like that comes from sites where salt crystals have formed in rocks that have sat in salt water.

Scientists say they have gained other clues from the physical appearance of the rocks. They see a pattern called "crossbedding," which is often the result of wind or water moving across the rock's surface.

So what is ahead for the final few weeks of the rovers' operations on Mars?

"We need to take a close look at the outcropping, and broaden our view to get a better understanding of the geology of the region, which is about the size of Oklahoma," said Joy Crisp, project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab. She said there are also plans to drive about 740 meters east to a crater that has been nicknamed "Endurance."

And in the longer term?

"It's clear we have to do a sample return, both for the scientific side and in preparation for human landing," said Weiler. He said future Mars missions would also include miniaturizing equipment, and landing equipment that would help prepare for the eventual landings of humans. That might include tests for toxicity in the soil, and to determine if there are any materials that humans might find useful when they do arrive.

The cost of the two rover missions is about $820 million. With solar panels and lithium-ion battery systems aboard, each rover is expected to function and communicate with earth for about 90 Mars days, known as "sols." That's equivalent to 92 earth days.
 
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Zorro

TRIBE Member
And Deep is the funniest witys and Smartest person on Tribe.

tells all something we don't know.
 
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graham

Well-Known TRIBEr
they have to come up with better stuff.

like ok water, but wouldn't it be cooler if it was shark infested, and they were those sharkaphants with the cruise missles attached to their side ? Who cares if it's true ? It's not like any of it will have practical application in my life.
 

Resolver

TRIBE Member
what a waste of money.. why don't the Americans start building condos there next week and then they can call it the 51st state....
 
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graham

Well-Known TRIBEr
you know what else is annoying ?

Rachel Ray

Rachel_Ray_001.jpg
 

the_fornicator

TRIBE Member
why's everybody so interested in Mars exploration?

we can barely sustain a balanced life on earth let alone another fucking planet.

sad.
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Originally posted by LeoGirl
I think space exploration is exciting.

Once you learn that there is nothing there, which is something that the little kids at NASA have a hard time understanding, it becomes antiexciting.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by LeoGirl
I think space exploration is exciting.

So do I.


Personally I think its kind of cool that they managed to get a remote control car to work on another planet.

its just kind of cool.

I found the space stuff really interesting and it sparked much of my general interest in science.
 

Ondie

TRIBE Member
Space eh

Most of the major breakthroughs which occur in science are offshoots of 'useless' research, like sending stuff to mars. If you look at this like 'well, we looked at mars and that's all we accomplished' ... that's kind of short sighted. Maybe we will get some Tang, or crazy mattress covers out of all this (for 800 million we better ;)

ab
 

sweet_e

TRIBE Member
OMG can we pretty please have another useless discussion on the validity of space exploration?

Lets just face it, none of us are leaving this planet anytime soon so who gives a fuck whats on Mars.
 
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PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Re: Space eh

Originally posted by Ondie
Most of the major breakthroughs which occur in science are offshoots of 'useless' research, like sending stuff to mars.

Incorrect. Pure myth.
 

rentboy

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by sweet_e
OMG can we pretty please have another useless discussion on the validity of space exploration?

Lets just face it, none of us are leaving this planet anytime soon so who gives a fuck whats on Mars.

yes...let's confine ourselves to not understanding life that exists beyond our own solar system.

sorry, but that comment you made is beyond ridiculous... it's fascinating how massive the universe is and how insignificant we really are.

I find it bewildering that exploring places that simple people like ourselves can only dream of visiting doesn't appeal to you.
 

Resolver

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by LeoGirl
I think space exploration is exciting.

But really the only thing I see for Mars is construction for humans to live... Going through a Black Hole would be exciting though... hey, let's go........
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by sweet_e
OMG can we pretty please have another useless discussion on the validity of space exploration?

Lets just face it, none of us are leaving this planet anytime soon so who gives a fuck whats on Mars.

Yah, let's just agree that you're right, and we'll all shutup. :)
 

sweet_e

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by rentboy
yes...let's confine ourselves to not understanding life that exists beyond our own solar system.

sorry, but that comment you made is beyond ridiculous... it's fascinating how massive the universe is and how insignificant we really are.

I find it bewildering that exploring places that simple people like ourselves can only dream of visiting doesn't appeal to you.


first of all i was being sarcastic because there is already at least one 10 page thread about the pro/cons of MARS exploration.

second of all, if you consider yourself simple thats fine but please hold off your generalization of the rest. and FYI mars is in our solar system.


And finally, i agree that as human we have to satiate our desire to explore the unknown. In that light space exploration is great (although in many ways a waste of valuable resources). But at the same time i dont think exploring space with the hope of one day being able to leave the behind the earth we destroyed only to proceed to destroy the next one has any real scientific merit.
 
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