View Full Version : Salty "sea" on Mars?
03-23-2004, 09:07 PM
NASA said today that the crater where Opportunity made its “hole in one” landing appears to be more than just an extinct Yellowstone-type hot spring, and that the sulfate rocks so carefully studied show clear evidence of having formed in flowing water at least few inches deep. The researchers interpret the site as the edge of a shallow, very salty “sea”, where deposits formed as water repeatedly evaporated to dryness or near-dryness.
Opportunity climbed out of its home crater a day or two ago, and now shows other, apparently similar rocks nearby, which scientists will study as soon as possible. They clearly picked a good target! And the engineers who built and delivered these rovers deserve high congratulations.
Here’s (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/2004/90.cfm) the news release.
03-24-2004, 07:36 AM
[QUOTE=fritchie]NASA said today that the crater where Opportunity made its “hole in one” landing... And the engineers who built and delivered these rovers deserve high congratulations.
They should be congratulated. Few people are lucky to choose their ancestry, and they are all artist: sculptures, painters, poets, engineers, natural philosophers and/or men of medicine. We have a glorious past and have always pulled screaming humanity toward a glorious future. Does that sound pompous and self-congratulatory, or, a just assessment.
03-24-2004, 02:12 PM
Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., expect Opportunity and Spirit to operate several months longer than their initial three-month prime missions on Mars.
Funny how it is news when they breakdown but not when they work beyond expectations.
03-29-2004, 08:30 PM
The BBC Science Web site (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3577551.stm) announced some possibly spectacular news today regarding Mars, the possibility of existing microbial life. The evidence is quite indirect, and alternate explanations are possible.
Unfortunately, I have to add, the BBC and the British press overall, cater somewhat to yellow journalism in addition to the usual real news, so this announcement should be read with some skepticism. All the same, it is something the scientific community has been expecting to a degree for a couple of years.
Briefly, methane (CH4) is a lightweight gas which could not exist in the Martian atmosphere unless it is being produced more or less constantly. Methane recently has been found, by several means, to be present in the Martin atmosphere. On Earth, two sources exist: (1) microbes, and (2) volcanos. No current significant volcanic activity is known on Mars, but other subterranean heat sources probably exist, and they could be the source of the gas. Stay tuned!
03-29-2004, 09:22 PM
They certainly keep trying to make news about Mars, and in a more positive light if possible. The British have been under a bit of home criticism for the problem concerning the loss of the Beagle. They desperately want to be the ones to discover life on Mars as that is what the instrumentation on the Beagle was designed to look for, whereas our rovers are really not. We don't really expect to find life unless it just falls in our lap or walks up to the camera and waves.
The last report I saw said the Beagle probably descended too fast due to a miscalculation about the density of the atmosphere. Too bad, and I hope they are able to recover from the bad PR of the loss.
03-30-2004, 08:24 PM
You’re right about the Brits making a valiant effort to recover from loss of the Beagle, but this methane idea is more than that and has been around longer. I don’t know who originated the concept, but it is part of a conceptual plan to search for life in other solar systems. Spectra can be measured from quite a distance.
The idea is that small, more or less rocky planets similar to Earth (Mars included, in our own backyard) would ordinarily not have methane in their atmospheres, and its presence would require continuing release. I believe the main concept is that CH4 is so light it would escape the planet’s gravity field in relatively short order. It might be destroyed by UV also. Of course, the escape or destruction rate would depend on planet size, atmospheric density, distance from parent star, and so on, so the measurement would not be definitive, simply suggestive.
And, BTW, by “yellow journalism” I meant that they often publish something bordering on the ludicrous, or crossing that border, just to attract viewers. They do this commonly, but it’s a small fraction of what’s published.
vBulletin® v3.6.8, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.