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Water on Mars

Last posted Sep 29, 2012 at 05:57AM EDT. Added Sep 27, 2012 at 04:19PM EDT
15 posts from 13 users

From NPR

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

“You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan,” NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

The agency’s scientists presented their findings of the former streambed on Mars at a news conference today.

This puts us 90% on the way to proving that life existed on Mars. Thoughts?

Sep 27, 2012 at 04:19PM EDT
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The prospect of life on worlds other than our own excites me, but it’s also a little unnerving because both possibilities are pretty mind-boggling. It could be that we’re all alone in this vast, possibly infinite universe. To think that we’re the only intelligent life forms out of trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions of planets in this universe is pretty strange to me. At the same time, the idea of somebody else being out there that isn’t us is pretty strange as well. I’m not sure either way.

That having been said, the search for life starts with the search for water. If there’s anything there, it’s microscopic at most. I’m not sure what Mars was like in the past, but life on Earth started out like that. Just a bunch of microscopic specks of goo wobbling around in the water and on the ground. It was like that for most of the history of organic life on Earth so far, I think. Maybe Mars will be the same. I don’t know how though. The atmosphere is thin as fuck and the planet itself is about half our size. If anything doe grow there, it will almost certainly be different then what we have here.

But who’s to know?

Sep 27, 2012 at 05:06PM EDT

This is absolutely fantastic! Now that we know water once flowed on Mars, the possibility that it could be put back could perhaps lead to terraforming in the distant future! Imagine, people living, even thriving, on food and water produced by a Martian agriculture!

Yes, I’m definitely getting carried away with this, but science fiction was and still is the basis of inspiration for budding scientists. If you can dream it, you can try to make it real, you know?

Also, I have a tendency, whenever I see the words “water” and “Mars” in the same sentence, to think of this:

Last edited Sep 27, 2012 at 05:51PM EDT
Sep 27, 2012 at 05:51PM EDT
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They found conclusive evidence of past liquid water on Mars with Spirit and Opportunity :U
Present water, however, is either locked away in subterranean ice or has boiled away with the atmosphere.

Sep 27, 2012 at 05:57PM EDT
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Well, on the question of if life existed on Mars, I have to give you both “Yes” and “No”.

First is the question of what you define as life. Do you mean actual animals or fish, or simple bacteria. Evidence suggests that life on Earth has existed for about 3.7 billion years, with the oldest traces of life found in fossils dating back 3.4 billion years.

The earlier the stage, the higher the chance it was living on Mars at a certain time in history. Simple as that, no questions needed.

But that brings us to the question: Was water and a sustainable atmosphere present on Mars long enough for these early stages of life to be created?

I don’t doubt that Mars had oceans in the past. But as time passed, Mars’ atmosphere changed and the water sunk into the planet or vaporized. Mars simply was just a bit too far from the sun to guarantee endless life. But was the time Mars had (a part) of the correct factors long enough for lifeforms to be created?

Last edited Sep 27, 2012 at 06:09PM EDT
Sep 27, 2012 at 06:06PM EDT
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@RandomMan, it a bit more complicated than it was just too far from the sun. The habitable life zone for our solar system actually extends beyond Mars. One of the larger issues is that Mars lacks a strong electromagnetic shield (as its molten core is much cooler than Earth’s). When it was younger, the core was hotter, and this shield would help prevent the erosion of the atmosphere by solar waves. As the shield went away, so did the air and water vapor it had, leaving the planet to huge fluctuations in temperature.

As for actual life, I think that it is certainly possible it may have been present on Mars at some point but until we get some more directly conclusive evidence it still to early to say for certain

Sep 27, 2012 at 06:44PM EDT
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On Topic: I really want there to be intelligent life on other planets. Especially if they were somewhat similar to us, only maybe a bit more advanced. I mean, if they were all 7th-level intellects, they’d probably look down upon us and either not help us or put us in zoos and run tests on us. But if aliens were kind of in a similar situation to what humanity is in now, it’d just be so cool. They’d be all like, “ifhsdufisdbigugbigaG” (No gf.) and we’d be all like, “I know that feel, bro.”

Sep 27, 2012 at 07:12PM EDT
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MDFification wrote:

They found conclusive evidence of past liquid water on Mars with Spirit and Opportunity :U
Present water, however, is either locked away in subterranean ice or has boiled away with the atmosphere.

There’s frozen water in the poles as well, isn’t there? Frozen water and trapped carbon dioxide in the poles seem to be the basis of many plans to terraform Mars.

Sep 27, 2012 at 07:29PM EDT
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Piano wrote:

There’s frozen water in the poles as well, isn’t there? Frozen water and trapped carbon dioxide in the poles seem to be the basis of many plans to terraform Mars.

Primarily, the martian poles are composed of frozen Carbon Dioxide.
Currently, the conditions on Mars means that frozen water will sublimate in a few minutes.

Sep 27, 2012 at 08:09PM EDT
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When I first heard about this, I kid you not, I ran out of my house, and went to my friend’s house who lives 5 kilometers away, just to tell him this. Both being very interested on the topic of life on Mars, we threw a part with some other friends.

I don’t care if this sounds sad, or desperate to you. I’m really freakin’ exited.

Sep 28, 2012 at 04:49AM EDT

I thought it was pretty well known that Mars used to have rivers and lakes at the very least (And may even still have trace amounts of it in underground pools)

Curiosity simply found definite proof of that said rivers and lakes were there. But the revelation shouldn’t come as a huge surprise for those who are well versed in their astronomy.

Mars most likely did have a point in its history where it looked a bit like Earth did in it’s own early days (rocky and watery), but the lack of planetary mass and near non-existant magnetic fields meant that all that hydrogen and oxygen dissipated rapidly over the millenia and life didn’t stand a chance at evolving

A bigger discovery would be finding that Mars developed life anymore more complicated than bacteria before it’s oceans vanished. Earth developed complex life due to an extensive array of very unique and very specific properties and Mars lacks a ton of those. If it turns out that Mars ever had what it took to even start developing life forms, that would be huge.

Funny how quickly the subject of water on mars turned to a subject on life on Mars. Lets face it; it’s the news we are all really hoping for

Last edited Sep 28, 2012 at 06:29AM EDT
Sep 28, 2012 at 06:28AM EDT
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Nikolaki8 wrote:

When I first heard about this, I kid you not, I ran out of my house, and went to my friend’s house who lives 5 kilometers away, just to tell him this. Both being very interested on the topic of life on Mars, we threw a part with some other friends.

I don’t care if this sounds sad, or desperate to you. I’m really freakin’ exited.

That’s not sad, that’s awesome.

Sep 28, 2012 at 11:52AM EDT
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This is pretty good news. The Curiosity rover returned results, and given actual confirmation to what we know. inb4 it wasn’t water that flowed on Mars

Time to be Captain Obvious: Mars’ environment as of current isn’t really conducive to life. If there were Martians that had formed a civilization we’d have likely made contact with them sooner, either through them picking up our radio signals or us picking up theirs (or other readings). That, and it would probably be fairly obvious if their civ was aboveground.

The possibility of the discovery Mars did evolve life more complex than bacteria, however, is probably going to keep quite a few eyes peeled on Curiosity (and Opportunity) as they explore Mars.

Last edited Sep 28, 2012 at 04:12PM EDT
Sep 28, 2012 at 04:11PM EDT
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I wonder if we should send a bunch of polyextremophiles to mars and colonise it that way, it’d be a lot safer.

/joke


Haven’t we known for a while now that mars may have once held water? Or is that just me?

Sep 28, 2012 at 06:16PM EDT
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Oh god, this is really causing more suspense about the planet. I know there’s ice, but if that melted then it would’ve evaporated instantly.

Sep 28, 2012 at 10:06PM EDT
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Skeletor-sm

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