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Is It Moist On Mars?
June 26, 2012 2:54 PM   Subscribe

New report suggests Mars may be full of liquid water - Smithsonianmag.com
posted by The Whelk (77 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great comment: I can't wait until they find the 100k year old human fossils and the remains of a highly advanced civilization that ruined their ecosystem. Who then sent a terraforming colony to the nearest planet, Earth.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on June 26, 2012 [51 favorites]


FULL of it? Like... a creamy filling scenario?
posted by elizardbits at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


My God, it's full of water.

posted by MarvinTheCat at 3:03 PM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would think it would have to be creamy filling. Where else would the mutant alien snakeworms be lurking as they await first contact with an idiot biologist in vintage spectacles and a stoned fraidycat geologist?
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:04 PM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hydrous melting of the martian mantle produced both depleted and enriched shergottites

Shergottites, as we know, are baby shoggoths.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:05 PM on June 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


Nowhere does that article claim "liquid water". I think it's referring to hydrated minerals, mostly apatite.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'mma get my ass to Mars.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now, this is the plan. Get your ass to Mars.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:09 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Damn it.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:10 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Soggy Mars theory.
posted by run"monty at 3:11 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great comment: I can't wait until they find the 100k year old human fossils and the remains of a highly advanced civilization that ruined their ecosystem. Who then sent a terraforming colony to the nearest planet, Earth.


This is the plot twist of the 2000 film Mission to Mars, which also features a dude taking his helmet off in space and his head instantly turns into an ice cube
posted by theodolite at 3:12 PM on June 26, 2012


New report suggests Mars may be full of liquid water - Smithsonianmag.com

A lot of words in this headline do not encourage my enthusiasm.
posted by Think_Long at 3:13 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


They should have sent a rowboat.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Shergottites

an awesome band name
posted by twidget at 3:22 PM on June 26, 2012


OK, at this time of day my eyes are glazing over trying to read the paper, but we're not talking about underground lakes are we? It seems more like rocks that contain water. I'm a geo-ignoramous. Anybody? Anybody? bumpkin? bumpkin?
posted by mondo dentro at 3:24 PM on June 26, 2012


I don't care how much water they find there, it still ain't no place to raise your kids.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


I can't wait until they find the 100k year old human fossils and the remains of a highly advanced civilization that ruined their ecosystem. Who then sent a terraforming colony to the nearest planet, Earth.


This is the plot twist of the 2000 film Mission to Mars, which also features a dude taking his helmet off in space and his head instantly turns into an ice cube


This is an older short story of P K Dick's... the mars explorers are trying escape an earth which has been ruined... but i sort of bet there are earlier examples of this trope.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:26 PM on June 26, 2012


I think it's referring to hydrated minerals, mostly apatite.

So, fluoride in our water on the Red Planet?

OPE
EPO
POE!
posted by zippy at 3:27 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh. Oops. I skipped over mr_roboto's post.
posted by mondo dentro at 3:29 PM on June 26, 2012


i sort of bet there are earlier examples of this trope

A hundred thousand years ago, one of our Martian predecessors, Filet Kay Heimlich, wrote an even older, shorter story that had this very same plot twist. It's all been written before!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:29 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


DIBS!
posted by clavdivs at 3:30 PM on June 26, 2012


A hundred thousand years ago, one of our Martian predecessors, Filet Kay Heimlich, wrote an even older, shorter story...

I love that story, especially the part where the hero, Carltron Hession, falls to his knees at the end, crying "damn you, you maniacs!"
posted by mondo dentro at 3:32 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Get your filthy hands off of me, you damned, dirty mapes!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:39 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's referring to hydrated minerals, mostly apatite.

AKA, whetting our apatites.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:40 PM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Or wetting our apatites, as the case may be.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:40 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


1. How many licks does it take to get to the center?
2. How quickly can this natural resource be completely depleted?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:42 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


AKA, whetting our apatites.

*stony look*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would think it would have to be creamy filling.

I drink your milkshake.
posted by homunculus at 3:46 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


i thought the real problem with colonizing Mars is that as it has no magnetic field, the solar wind has blown away virtually all of its atmosphere?
posted by camdan at 3:55 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


[meteorites] ...ejected from Mars roughly 2.5 million years ago.

How does a meteorite-ologist... or whoever... tell what planet a meteorite came from? Spectral analysis? What do they look for? I'd guess that Mars & the Moon would be the easiest to do this with since we have unobstructed views of their surface, but as an ignoramus, I'm asking if anyone hereabouts can illuminate a bit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:57 PM on June 26, 2012


This is the plot twist of the 2000 film Mission to Mars, which also features a dude taking his helmet off in space and his head instantly turns into an ice cube

A dude? That dude was Andy Dufresne. Alas, it turned out that Red bet on the wrong guy -- never put your money on a tall glass of water with a silver spoon up his ass. A guy like that has no earthly business being 100 miles above the surface of mars.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:07 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Water inside mars.
Was I there in a past life?
I cannot recall.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:17 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


a dude taking his helmet off in space and his head instantly turns into an ice cube

What a crazy motherfucker...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:22 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


How does a meteorite-ologist... or whoever... tell what planet a meteorite came from?

Check this out. Basically there are several ways. The coolest one is that each planet and asteroid parent body formed from a different collection of oxygen atoms (among other things). We can measure the isotopic composition of the oxygen and determine whether it is from the Earth or someplace else. Unfortunately we don't have rocks that we have returned from Mars yet, so we have to use some other info to make an educated guess (see the link for more info).

The second cool thing is that the Earth and the Moon have the SAME oxygen isotope composition. Which means that they formed from the same collection of oxygen atoms somehow - this is how we came up with the giant impact hypothesis for the formation of the Moon.

Oh and it is "cosmochemist" at least that is what the cool kids call themselves...
posted by spaceviking at 4:24 PM on June 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


a dude taking his helmet off in space and his head instantly turns into an ice cube

What a crazy motherfucker...


Straight out of Huston.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


theodolite: "This is the plot twist of the 2000 film Mission to Mars, which also features a dude taking his helmet off in space and his head instantly turns into an ice cube"

Also: an ancient Martian crying a single, Iron Eyes Cody-esque tear.
posted by brundlefly at 4:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the plot twist of the 2000 film Mission to Mars. . .

. . . a film that demonstrated that it is now more expensive to make a movie about going to Mars that it is to actually go to Mars.
 
posted by Herodios at 4:26 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


camdan got it: i thought the real problem with colonizing Mars is that as it has no magnetic field, the solar wind has blown away virtually all of its atmosphere?

No matter how much water that was or is inside of Mars, it probably mostly came out early, when it was then lost to space. The rest of it is still down there attached to minerals and not doing much.
posted by spaceviking at 4:29 PM on June 26, 2012


Check this out.

Thanks- the pertinent bit:
The conclusive evidence that these meteorites originated on Mars came from the measurement of gases trapped in one meteorite’s interior. These trapped gases, now confirmed in other meteorites, match those that the Viking lander measured in the martian atmosphere.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:32 PM on June 26, 2012


I did not expect the metafilter comments on this random science post to be so funny!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:35 PM on June 26, 2012


I keep seeing The Shergotitties and then I think of this, followed by this.

Or I see Shaggothtitties and I'm kinda afraid to go down that line of though (or line of Google images).
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:36 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The conclusive evidence that these meteorites originated on Mars came from the measurement of how quickly Mars smelled gases trapped in one meteorite’s interior. These trapped gases, now confirmed in other meteorites, match those that the Viking lander found dealt in the martian atmosphere.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:37 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK, at this time of day my eyes are glazing over trying to read the paper, but we're not talking about underground lakes are we? It seems more like rocks that contain water. I'm a geo-ignoramous. Anybody? Anybody? bumpkin? bumpkin?
That's how groundwater works on earth. So in theory if there were liquid ground water on mars humans could use that. But it seems like Ice Lakes could be a better bet, since we know they exist.

The other thing is that there could be microbes living in that water, although I don't know what they would do for energy.
posted by delmoi at 4:37 PM on June 26, 2012


*line of thought, damn it.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:37 PM on June 26, 2012


posted by mondo dentro

eponisterico
posted by The World Famous at 4:38 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Delt/smelt is sound science, IRFH.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:39 PM on June 26, 2012


In space, no one can hear you poot.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:41 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


eponisterico

Holy shit! didn't think of that!! Nice one!

.... or should I say hole-y schist?
posted by mondo dentro at 4:43 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, delmoi. That photo is eerily beautiful. Regarding finding life, I'm (with no real expertise) holding out for the exploration of the subsurface ocean of Europa. If we don't even find bacteria in any of these environments, it's going to freak me out.
posted by mondo dentro at 4:52 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread has rendered me incapable of thinking about anything except Ice Cube busting in with chrome machine guns in Ghosts of Mars.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:52 PM on June 26, 2012


Microbes could be subsisting off of radiation penetrating the surface. Extremely long lived microbes with ultra slow metabolisms optimized for the low energy environment and limited liquid water.
posted by humanfont at 4:53 PM on June 26, 2012


mondo dentro: "I'm (with no real expertise) holding out for the exploration of the subsurface ocean of Europa. "

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT oh never mind.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:13 PM on June 26, 2012


I did not expect the metafilter comments on this random science post to be so funny!

I did not expect them to be so vapid, with a few honorable exceptions.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:22 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did not expect them to be so vapid

O come on, yes you did.
posted by ericost at 5:29 PM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was really hoping they'd find that Mars was full of vodka.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:44 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harold Camping is probably gonna start praying that Mars will "magically" change it's name to "Plan B"
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 5:45 PM on June 26, 2012


I have spent the last hour hearing Paul McCartney in my head, screaming "Dealt 'er, Smelt 'er!"

I hope that's vapid enough for ya.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:49 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mars, I didn't know you got wet!
posted by XhaustedProphet at 6:20 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if this is true, it isn't of much use. Vulcanism has long since stopped on Mars, and there's no way for that water to escape to the surface in any significant quantity.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:18 PM on June 26, 2012


Bogdanovists unite.
posted by thewalrus at 9:16 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If only Bradbury were alive to read this.
posted by prepmonkey at 6:07 AM on June 27, 2012


and there's no way for that water to escape to the surface in any significant quantity.

And as we know from our observations on earth, life can only take hold on the surfaces of planets.

(Or is the point here that this water won't be readily accessible for use in making lattes in the Mars colony Starbucks express?)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:32 AM on June 27, 2012


Vulcanism has long since stopped on Mars

Actually this is probably not true - there are very young lava flows on the surface. We have martian meteorites that are "only" 100-300 million years old (which means that if the planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, it is unlikely that volcanism happened to have stopped 100 million years ago).

It is true that volcanism is probably pretty rare and would not be an important source of water to the surface in recent times (like the last 1 billion years).
posted by spaceviking at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2012


> (Or is the point here that this water won't be readily accessible for use in making lattes in the Mars colony Starbucks express?

Despite the fpp headline, it's not liquid water (or ice). If it is actually all in the form of water of hydration in mineral hydrates, the standard way of releasing it as water vapor is by cooking it out. If there were enough mineral hydrates and enough vulcanism there could be enough free water vapor to make clouds, rain, rivers, oceans, water parks, lattes, what have you. That's a sci fi plot at this point, but it's also possible to imagine intrepid Martian colonists making their lattes by first cooking some hydroxylapatite.
posted by jfuller at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My mind just ran away from me with the idea of introducing volcanism to Mars.
posted by Chutzler at 9:10 AM on June 27, 2012


Jfuller has it. These are hydrated forms of minerals that were unexpected. Not free usable water. Sad that this keeps getting posted as "water on mars!"
posted by Big_B at 9:30 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post, and wanted to give a thumbs-up to the video at the end of the article. It's a little dramatic but it suits the topic perfectly. No bouncing balloons for this Mars landing, but a nail-biting sequence of ... OK, no spoilers.
posted by Quietgal at 9:38 AM on June 27, 2012


Not free usable water. Sad that this keeps getting posted as "water on mars!"

I think it's getting posted that way because that's still what it is. If it were being posted as 'ready-to-drink water on Mars,' that'd be another story. But the water locked up in hydrated minerals, unless I'm sorely mistaken, is perfectly viable water for use by certain forms of microorganisms.

In fact, this PDF of a Pre-Viking missions assessment of the possibilities for life on Mars (co-authored by Carl Sagan no less) specifically notes:
Organisms which extract their water requirements from hydrated minerals or from ice are considered possible on Mars
So the reason this actually is a big deal find and I don't think it's a problem to tout it as "Water found on Mars" even if the news doesn't really mean the bottled water industry can set up shop on Mars tomorrow is that it provides further evidence of conditions that make the possibility of life on Mars much likelier.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2012


(Oops. This PDF link.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:08 AM on June 27, 2012


These are hydrated forms of minerals that were unexpected.

NOBODY EXPECTS THE VOLCANIC IGNEOUS HYDRATION!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:22 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Its hard to post a lengthy response from my phone, and im not a mineralogist, but i think its still a prettu big leap to say certain microorganisms can use the water. You still have to have some mechanism for freeing that hydrogen and oxygen from the mineral assemblage, usually by breakdown of some sort possibly weathering not saying its impossible, but its a bit like saying we have plenty of oil becuase they realized there is more carbon in earths core.
posted by Big_B at 11:58 AM on June 27, 2012


Maybe so, but when we first started looking for life on Mars, the presence of hydrated minerals was specifically recognized as one of the conditions that would be a positive sign for the possibility of life on Mars, as the PDF I linked above demonstrates.

So it's a big deal at least in part because we've been looking for this as an indicator of the possibility of life on Mars all along and now we've found it. I'll assume Carl Sagan et al conferred with mineralogists before they authored their document on the prospects for life on Mars back in 1975, although I guess it's possible we've since learned that water i
posted by saulgoodman at 12:58 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


(ugh. never mind the trailing off part of the above... juggling too many things'll do that, I guess.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:01 PM on June 27, 2012


These are hydrated forms of minerals that were unexpected.

It's life water, Jim, but not as we know it.
posted by zippy at 2:54 PM on June 27, 2012


Evidence of life on Mars could come from Martian moon
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on July 2, 2012


A mission to a Martian moon could return with alien life, according to experts at Purdue University, but don't expect the invasion scenario presented by summer blockbusters like "Men in Black 3" or "Prometheus."

"We are talking little green microbes, not little green men," said Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and physics and aerospace engineering at Purdue.


Oh. So it'll be more like the end of War of the Worlds then, where we're the invading aliens who die off from unfamiliar bacterial infections. Lovely.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2012


Would finding life on Mars create a power struggle on Earth?
posted by homunculus at 11:31 PM on July 16, 2012


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