Frozen water reserves on Mars

mercurial

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Washington - Nasa scientists have discovered enormous underground reservoirs of frozen water on Mars, away from its polar caps, in the latest sign that life might be sustainable on the Red planet.

Ground-penetrating radar used by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals numerous huge glaciers up to one half-mile thick buried beneath layers of rock and debris. Researchers said one glacier is three time the size of Los Angeles in area.

"All together, these glaciers almost certainly represent the largest reservoir of water ice on Mars that's not in the polar caps," said John Holt, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of a report about the discovery, which appears in the November 21 issue of the journal Science.

"In addition to their scientific value, they could be a source of water to support future exploration of Mars," said Holt.

Scientists on the 12-member research team surmise that the frozen water deposits are remnants of a Martian ice age millions of years ago.

Because water is one of the primary requirements for life, scientists said the frozen reservoirs are an encouraging sign of extra-terrestrial life.

The buried glaciers reported by Holt and his 11 co-authors lie in the Hellas Basin region of Mars' southern hemisphere, and scientist said even larger frozen water reservoirs may exist in Mars' northern hemisphere.

"The fact that these features are in the same latitude bands - about 35 to 60 degrees - in both hemispheres points to a climate-driven mechanism for explaining how they got there," said Holt.

Another member of the research team noted however, that a basic mystery about the glaciers remains unsolved.

"A key question is 'How did the ice get there in the first place?'" said James Head of Brown University.

Unanswered questions also persist, Brown said, about what might be contained in the frozen water.

"On Earth, such buried glacial ice in Antarctica preserves the record of traces of ancient organisms and past climate history," he said.

Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for Nasa.

- AFP

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foozball3000

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Scientists on the 12-member research team surmise that the frozen water deposits are remnants of a Martian ice age millions of years ago.

Because water is one of the primary requirements for life, scientists said the frozen reservoirs are an encouraging sign of extra-terrestrial life.
Why is that in the report? We don't care about their opinions and beliefs, we want facts. The fact is there is water on mars and that means colonizing is possible... AWESOME. The rest... WTF!?
 

mOOey

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Why is that in the report? We don't care about their opinions and beliefs, we want facts. The fact is there is water on mars and that means colonizing is possible... AWESOME. The rest... WTF!?
"Life", could also mean viruses and bad bacteria. Which would require special precautions.

It wouldn't be fun going there and just drinking the water and finding out later that you have some alien disease and brought it back to earth, wiping the entire human race.

In an unknown situation like this, you have to consider everything possible.
 

Surv0

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Why is that in the report? We don't care about their opinions and beliefs, we want facts. The fact is there is water on mars and that means colonizing is possible... AWESOME. The rest... WTF!?

And fact says that water is needed for life - until we can set a human down, or retrieve some of that water we wont know. But what we do know is that with water, comes life, which is the primary goal here, not just to colonize mars.
 

foozball3000

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"Life", could also mean viruses and bad bacteria. Which would require special precautions.

It wouldn't be fun going there and just drinking the water and finding out later that you have some alien disease and brought it back to earth, wiping the entire human race.

In an unknown situation like this, you have to consider everything possible.

Bacteria surviving on mars? Where it gets as hot as hell, and colder than the artic on the same spot in one day?
There's a bigger chance of finding ET's remains.

Fair enough, expect the unexpected... but be sensible about it?

I'm just sooooo sick of hearing awesome science stuff and they throw these wild, unproven, comments in between like it's a fact. Stick to the real facts… plain and simple.
 

foozball3000

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And fact says that water is needed for life - until we can set a human down, or retrieve some of that water we wont know. But what we do know is that with water, comes life, which is the primary goal here, not just to colonize mars.

But thats exactly my point..
Fact: Water on mars
Factual Conclusions: Possibility of sustaining life...
What does those extra comments have to do with that?
 

Surv0

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But thats exactly my point..
Fact: Water on mars
Factual Conclusions: Possibility of sustaining life...
What does those extra comments have to do with that?

that we are one step closer to finding the answer to the question that we have been asking for many many many years.. are we alone?
 

foozball3000

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that we are one step closer to finding the answer to the question that we have been asking for many many many years.. are we alone?

Um, but that's a different topic in a way different field. Philosophy is far from science. I don't care if ET lives. But I do care about the awesome idea of a possible water park on mars. The one is a hopeful suggestion, and the other is a realistic expectation.

Yes, meeting an alien would make my day... but I'm not gonna hold my breath on that hope... like some people spending years and potloads of cash on it.

P.S. I'm sorry for being super technical today... :D
 

Surv0

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Um, but that's a different topic in a way different field. Philosophy is far from science. I don't care if ET lives. But I do care about the awesome idea of a possible water park on mars. The one is a hopeful suggestion, and the other is a realistic expectation.

Yes, meeting an alien would make my day... but I'm not gonna hold my breath on that hope... like some people spending years and potloads of cash on it.

P.S. I'm sorry for being super technical today... :D

I think silly and knitpicking here fits better than being technical.
Bottom line - we want to know if we are alone or not in this universe, the water will be our way of finding out.
That and we could support our own life on the planet by tapping into those reserves.

I dont see what you are getting at...
 

mercurial

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Ice on Mars: NASA radar detects vast glaciers on red planet.

Vast glaciers, up to a mile thick and tens of miles long, have been discovered on Mars in what scientists believe is the remnants of an ice age.

The ice sheets are the ‘most dramatic’ evidence yet of climate change on the red planet, and could help us understand temperature shifts on Earth, the U.S. researchers say.

They detected the sheets beneath a protective layer of rocky debris using a ground-penetrating radar on the NASA Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter.

The discovery reveals a previously untapped source of drinking water and rocket fuel, which promises to aid future manned missions to the planet.

Scientists have previously detected ice on Mars but never in such large quantities away from the poles.

The glaciers were located the Hellas Basin region – an area spanning mid-latitudes in the Southern hemisphere, which is equivalent to the latitude of Australia on Earth.

A similar band with even larger quantities of ice is thought to be awaiting discovery in the Northern hemisphere.

The biggest ice sheets, thought to have formed 100 million years ago, are up to 13 miles long and 60 miles wide, the team revealed in Science magazine.

Experts have already shown evidence of climate change on Mars, but lead author Dr. Jack Holt from the University of Texas in Austin says that this is ‘by far the most dramatic’.

It is likely that the glaciers will have preserved a frozen record of the planet’s past chemistry, which will give us a snap shot of what the environment and climate was like, he explained.

But Dr Holt is not expecting to find the highly anticipated evidence of life on Mars. He believes the planet’s surface could not support life in the ice age.

This discovery is similar to massive ice glaciers that have been detected under rocky coverings in Antarctica.

'Altogether, these glaciers almost certainly represent the largest reservoir of water ice on Mars that is not in the polar caps,' said Dr. Holt.

'Just one of the features we examined is three times larger than the city of Los Angeles and up to half a mile thick.

'And there are many more. In addition to their scientific value, they could be a source of water to support future exploration of Mars.'

The ground-penetrating radar previously detected similar craters by the cliffs in the northern hemisphere of Mars, which are believed to conceal more glaciers.

'There's an even larger volume of water ice in the northern deposits,' said geologist Jeffrey J. Plaut.

'The fact these features are in the same latitude bands, about 35 to 60 degrees in both hemispheres, points to a climate-driven mechanism for explaining how they got there.'

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