Scientists uncover first evidence of water still on Mars

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brellis

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Article<br /><font color="yellow">Physicists at the University of Guelph have detected the first "on-the-spot" evidence of significant amounts of water still existing on Mars.<br /><br />Rather than existing in pools, the water is trapped in sub-surface soil on the red planet, most likely the remnants of oceans or pools that evaporated, according to lead researcher Iain Campbell.<br /><br />"Our work is the first in situ evidence for total bound water in the Martian subsurface,†said Campbell, a professor emeritus who has been working on the project for two years with fellow physics professor Ralf Gellert. U of G physicist Joanne O'Meara also provided computations that were a crucial element of the analysis.<br /><br />The discovery was made courtesy of the Mars Spirit rover, a robotic device that has been exploring the Red Planet since early 2004 and sending back information about the planet's surface to scientists here on Earth, including Gellert and other members of the Mars rover team.<br /><br />An X-ray spectrometer called an APXS on the rover's arm captured the data about the trapped water. "Other instruments suggest the possibility — the APXs lets us determine the actual amount," said Campbell, whose research group created a computer package that is used to help analyze data collected by the spectrometer on the Mars rover.<br /><br />The water appears to be contained in mineral compounds in sulphur-rich soil just beneath the planet's surface, Campbell said. The distinctive bright white material was churned up by the rover's wheels as it moved across the soft red surface in the Columbia Hills region of the planet.<br /><br />In a paper that is in the final stage of review by the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the team says the bright, sulphur-rich material contains up to 16 per cent water.<br /><br />Besides fuelling new evidence that there is water on Mars — considered a r</font> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Hi Brad,<br /><br />Thus this means free or infiltrated water? or chemically bound water?
 
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brellis

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chemically bound <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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I still wonder what that would give at 3km deep, where liquid water can subsist in veins.
 
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brellis

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To me, everything looks muddy on Mars right now, lol<br /><br />They're learning more about what happened to the water. The orbiter data merits another look! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Yes. Never leave any stone unturned.<br />Any area of a planetary body is worth being analyzed. There is so much diversity. <br />Btw, I hope Dawn will be able to image and analyze the poles of Ceres and add it offically to the list of the wet worlds.
 
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brellis

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Ceres study will boost prospects of missions to Phobos/Deimos for mining, comm relay and prep for manned missions. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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mmm<br />Can we still think of Ceres as an ancillary asteroid? I think it is a world in itself, deserving exploration (area almost equivalent to India).<br /><br />And btw with clays. (to come back to your threading post)
 
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brellis

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mmm, I like Indian food. wonder what Ceresian dining will be like <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Chondrites à la Tandoori<br />Iron-rich clays Masala<br />Polar ice and Regolith Chutney (may be).<br /><br />Or some seafood from internal ocean ? (if McCord and Sotin are right)
 
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brellis

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Another Article <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Great!<br /><br />I wonder whether the signature for the spectrograph is the same as water or specific<br />(because spectro of Ceres so far indicate no H2O signature from surface)<br /><br />Regards.
 
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qso1

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brellis:<br />To me, everything looks muddy on Mars right now, lol<br /><br />Me:<br />Certain areas look to me almost like wet mud. The scientists that work on these missions may suspect water and just cannot go public with it until they have irrefutable data. But all the data thus far is pointing to water on mars.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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fatal291

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that would be so awesome if that was true, i just wish i could be one of the guys to suit up and go for myself.. who cares if its a one way trip! im 18 i hope to see SOME form of human mission on mars during my lifetime. I just dont like those rovers. I know they are safer ect, but a human can tell you in a few minutes what its takken years to plan, build and recive info from a probe. i hate the thought of them sending more and more bots but i guess ill just have to wait
 
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qso1

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I remember when I was 18 (1974) and thought the first human mars mission would occur when I was 30 (1986). When we find a way to get around the cost barrier, we will finally send humans to mars. On humans vs robots, I would say for sure its going to have to be a human mission over robotic one when it comes time to confirm indigeonous life on mars. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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fatal291

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Im willing to volunteer.. im sure my other humans are not though. its so stupid how we finally have the technology to go yet money holds us back.
 
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qso1

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There are no doubt plenty of volunteers for a human mars mission. But as you mentioned, the money holds us back despite being pretty well ready. I think there are a few minor technical hurdles but nothing a good budgeted program wouldn't overcome. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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robnissen

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Humans will do a lousy job of looking for microbes on Mars. While rovers can be reasonably steralized, it is impossibility to steralize a human. If astronauts find any microbes in situ, it will be very difficult to eliminate the possibility that they were hitch-hikers on the astronauts.
 
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brellis

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Given how difficult it is to find life on Mars, it's ironic how hard we have to try to make sure life <i>doesn't</i> survive a trip there! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Yes.<br />Tremendous precautions. But necessary.<br />This discovery will make people more and more paranoid about planetary protection.<br />But it cannot be implemented more anyway than what is currently foreseen. Further "improvement" would act marginally on the microbial redcution, and the risk for a human error will still remain anyway (and even increase if operations are multiplied).<br />Regards.
 
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brellis

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Another irony: given how wasteful we are - in so many ways! ( war, famine, deforestation, pollution, etc ) - on earth, consider how efficient and considerate we are as interplanetary explorers.<br /><br />Question: if Mars Polar Lander was contaminated with earth-borne bacteria and slammed into Mars, could some little earth critters survive?<br /><br />Methinks: no, because of radiation and temperature, and how hot does a spacecraft get when it plunges thru Mars' atmosphere?<br /><br />On the other hand, if it landed gently and tumbled into a lava tube, who knows? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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It would be interesting to see whether Deinococcus Radiodurans can make use of the bound-water. Can be experimented on Earth.<br /><br />If it can, then I'm afraid radiation won't be enough to prevent forward contamination. As far as temperature is concerned, on equator it can rise at noon to comfortable levels. Infiltrations to the warmer underground might help Conan the Bacteria to survive and reach the liquid water veins.<br />Then will have to find food...
 
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