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Evidence of water ice on mars.
June 19, 2008 6:40 PM   Subscribe

NASA Phoenix probe finds evidence of frozen water on Mars
posted by elpapacito (94 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hot. My nipples are literally tingling here. Now if somebody would blow up Phoenix so we can justify going to Mars as part of the Homeland Security budget we're set.
posted by GuyZero at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2008 [9 favorites]


NASA webmaster discovers magic of animated gifs.
posted by hal9k at 6:56 PM on June 19, 2008


Love me my space probes.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:57 PM on June 19, 2008


IT'S A TRANSFORMER
posted by Shakeer at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2008


Is it weird that I was kind of hoping for a single-link Twitter post?
posted by danb at 7:01 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


I get nervous when I flash the firmware on my dvd burner. Can you imagine patching software on another planet?
posted by BeerFilter at 7:01 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry; didn't we already know there was liquid water on Mars?

Where are the little green men. WAKE ME WHEN YOU HAVE THE LITTLE GREEN MEN.
posted by yhbc at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


How can they be sure that Martians aren't little hermit crabs who just scurried away between shots?
posted by Dave Faris at 7:03 PM on June 19, 2008


I'm sorry; didn't we already know there was liquid water on Mars?

Nope.

Besides, we didn't find liquid water. We found ice. You know, solid water.
posted by Justinian at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2008


How can they be sure that Martians aren't little hermit crabs who just scurried away between shots?

If that's the case, and they decide to attack, unfortunately I know from experience that me and my college roommate could take them all down. We called him Leo...poor guy...
posted by inigo2 at 7:05 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but is it Ice-1 or Ice-9?
posted by loquacious at 7:06 PM on June 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


Okay, I'm pretty excited here.
posted by cashman at 7:09 PM on June 19, 2008


*sighs* I was going to make a nice multi-youtube link with Vanilla Ice, The Mr Cool Ice guy and the Foreigner song 'Cold As Ice, " ending with Ice on Mars.
posted by peewinkle at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2008


We found ice. You know, solid water

I thought those telescopic photographs of Mars with that big white blob on the north pole were sufficient evidence of ice?

Well, I suppose just-below-surface ice is more stable and reliable as a resource for future human habitation, and thus a more spectacular find.

But still.

I do love me some mars probes too!
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:11 PM on June 19, 2008


loquacious: "Yeah, but is it Ice-1 or Ice-9?"

It's Ice-T. How do they know this ain't dry ice (CO2) sublimating just like it does here on earth?
posted by Science! at 7:14 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought those telescopic photographs of Mars with that big white blob on the north pole were sufficient evidence of ice?

I was going to say that it was unclear if it was water ice or carbon dioxide, but a quick googling suggests they determined it was predominately water ice at the south pole sometime last year.

Huh. I haven't been keepin' up.
posted by Justinian at 7:16 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


WAKE ME WHEN YOU HAVE THE LITTLE GREEN MEN.

I'm not sure that's such a good idea.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:16 PM on June 19, 2008


big white blob on the north pole

I think that is dry ice, CO2.
posted by maxwelton at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2008


Couldn't the "ice" have been CO2 or ammonium or something else? Aren't the canals "evidence of water" already? When are we going to find an ice cube, crystal or drop for pete's sake?
posted by furtive at 7:20 PM on June 19, 2008


Is this a melting point thing? Because yeah, my first thought is: ok, maybe it's ice, but how can you say it is frozen water?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:21 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


... he team is taking the precaution of not storing science data in Phoenix's flash memory, and instead downlinking it at the end of every day ...

Two Questions:

1. How much flash memory does Phoenix have?

2. How long does such a downloadlink take?
posted by grabbingsand at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2008


It just occurred to me: since it sublimates on Mars, water ice is dry ice!
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


YES!!!! High Five!!!
posted by WC_Helmets at 7:25 PM on June 19, 2008


Fine and dandy, but they still haven't found olives.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:38 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dodo-Goldilocks, Snow White 1, Snow White 2. Apparently, inside every astrophysicist beats the heart of a six year old girl.
posted by stavrogin at 7:42 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Now if somebody would blow up Phoenix so we can justify going to Mars as part of the Homeland Security budget we're set.

Think about it for a second; the next step is to invade Mars so we can secure their precious water reserves.
posted by spiderwire at 7:42 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, will the planetary geologists please speak up? Can this be confirmed solely on visual evidence?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:43 PM on June 19, 2008


I don't think they have detected anything, other than observe a white patch disappear (evaporate) after being exposed to air for a few days, which they assume must be water since salt wouldn't do that. Still seems like room for question, albeit small.
posted by stbalbach at 7:47 PM on June 19, 2008


since it sublimates on Mars, water ice is dry ice!

What, water isn't wet on other planets? Water ice sublimes on earth, too.
posted by ryanrs at 7:48 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Never mind, I found the answer on Fark. For shame!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:50 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think they have detected anything, other than observe a white patch disappear (evaporate) after being exposed to air for a few days

So what you're saying is that it's actually a mobile biological weapons lab?

Oh shit
posted by spiderwire at 7:50 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


*cues sample of Under Pressure intro just for the heck of it*

If this is true then it's very exciting. Even: woot! Do we still say "woot!"? If not, I'd like to resurrect it for this occasion.



Woot!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:52 PM on June 19, 2008


Yeah make your jokes, but still it moves, good work science and engineering and human ingenuity.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:58 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Very good news indeed. For a while it seemed the lander was surrounded by ice and touched down in that one place....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 7:59 PM on June 19, 2008


Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago

Maybe the Martian Yahtzee players were done with their game and went home?
posted by amyms at 8:06 PM on June 19, 2008


GET YOUR ASS TO MARS!
posted by Krrrlson at 8:09 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago

Wait, so it wasn't the fancy instruments, but nature? God must be shaking his head and laughing. "Last time I use carbon to make a life form, they always come out retarded."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:20 PM on June 19, 2008


For what it is worth: The reason we know it wasn't C02 ice that sublimated instead of water ice, the temperature is too high for dry ice. Dry ice sublimates at something like -79C and the daytime temperature around Phoenix is a balmy -26c. So any dry ice at this region would have already sublimated.

Daytime temperatures of -26! I could walk around with nothing but a coat and hat! For at least one minute until I couldn't hold my breath any longer and died!
posted by Justinian at 8:25 PM on June 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


wait--i just felt something i haven't felt in a long, long time. not even sure what it's called anymore, actually... was that--my god! was that a rush of cynicism-free enthusiasm i felt for a second there?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:27 PM on June 19, 2008 [14 favorites]


saulgoodman: probably just some gas. It should go away in a minute.
posted by Justinian at 8:27 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


So now can I keep the water running while brushing my teeth?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:29 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


For sale - martianice.com.
Contact info in profile.

(this is what happens when you register domains after too many Heineken's)
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is huge.
posted by zardoz at 8:31 PM on June 19, 2008


Now to figure out how to move the Mars orbit 55 million kilometers closer to the Sun.
posted by netbros at 8:38 PM on June 19, 2008


2. How long does such a downloadlink take?
grabbingsand - You may be interested in this interview with Dianna Blainey at SGU. She talks a fair bit about the communication restrictions they have with Phoenix.
posted by tellurian at 8:41 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fine and dandy, but they still haven't found olives.

Fuck that, let me know when they find the single malt Scotch whisky.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is Just to Say

I have drunk
the water
that was under
your soil

and which
you were probably
saving
for ambiogenesis.

Forgive me
it was delicious
so Martian
and so cold.
posted by malaprohibita at 9:03 PM on June 19, 2008 [29 favorites]


This is Just to Say

William Carlos Williams
(PBUH)
is probably fucking tired
of everyone jacking his poem.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:07 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not soil, regolith.
posted by tellurian at 10:05 PM on June 19, 2008


saulgoodman,

You really need to nip that enthusiasm in the bud if you want to remain one of the cool kids.
posted by lukemeister at 10:05 PM on June 19, 2008


And they laughed when I said that the canals on Mars were full of Scotch! So, who's laughing now!?

Anyone...
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:26 PM on June 19, 2008


When they remake The Honeymooners, will Ralph Kramden threaten Alice with a one-way tip to Mars?
posted by Cranberry at 10:33 PM on June 19, 2008


tip = trip
posted by Cranberry at 10:33 PM on June 19, 2008


Well if it evaporates eventually it has to precipitate, right? So there's some sort of hydrological cycle taking place on Mars, but at a fraction of the speed of Earth's.
I don't think we're going to find life--I don't think life can exist without being obvious--but hey, this makes terraforming sound a little easier.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:34 PM on June 19, 2008


I refuse to believe this until Colin Powell announces it to the UN.
posted by troybob at 10:40 PM on June 19, 2008


I don't think life can exist without being obvious

*cough*
posted by Avenger at 10:59 PM on June 19, 2008


Also, see this and this.
posted by Avenger at 11:06 PM on June 19, 2008


SaulGoodman: "was that a rush of cynicism-free enthusiasm i felt for a second there?"

Better you than me, pal. I plan to remain cynical and unenthusiastic long after we've colonized Mars and started mining Jupiter for fuel. Why is that you say? cuz I still won't have my flying car, dammit!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:07 PM on June 19, 2008


The real question is, how much will it cost to bottle it and distribute it to 7-11 stores?

"Whatcha got there? Evian? Fiji? Cool. Yeah, this? MarsWater."
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:08 PM on June 19, 2008


Well if it evaporates eventually it has to precipitate, right?

Not necessarily. It's highly possible that water doesn't cycle there at all any more and it's just sitting below the surface until alien craft/meterorites/yahtzee players disturb the surface. One lander disturbing the soil's water will hardly constitute enough vapour in the atmosphere to ever oversaturate and precipitate. What we did there is just make a bit more atmosphere.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:53 AM on June 20, 2008


"What we did there is just make a bit more atmosphere."

And of course the theory is if we did that a whole lot more, then we could actually make a lot more atmosphere and Mars would one day be habitable. That is, provided there's already enough ice there to someday make an atmosphere.

Or we could just fuck up Mars and leave it a bigger mess than when we arrived. Y'know we left a car on the moon. Left the keys in the ignition and everything. And golf balls! We just went up there and littered. That's humanity for you.

When we send men and women to Mars, we're gonna need more than a couple tin cans on the surface for people to live on. They're gonna have to actually have air to breathe and plants to pee on and animals to kill. Otherwise, why leave home, huh?

What? You think we could ever build a Mars colony that would exist totally inside artificially created constructs? Didn't any of you see Bio-Dome? Oh that's right. It was only me and twelve other people, three of which ended up in intensive care and five are still being kept under sedation in psychiatric wards. *twitch* However I survived Bio-Dome completely unscathed!

Anyway. We can't pull off the International Space Station without looking like a bunch of retards. If we coulda done the colony inside an artificial edifice thing, we woulda done that by now on the Moon. What makes you think we can colonize Mars with a hamster trail?

Mars is gonna need its own atmosphere before we can turn it into a tourist trap. That'll take water. Lots of it. Then we gotta figure out how to keep it warm enough long enough to stabilize the planet and make it habitable. That'll probably involve solar power enhancers of some sort. We'll get the eggheads to hammer out the details but that shouldn't be a problem. Or as someone suggested earlier, we could find a way to change the orbit of Mars so that it's brought a little closer to the sun, into what is called "The Ecosphere" or the Sweet Spot from the sun that's most conducive to carbon based life forms.

If we don't find enough water on Mars, the jig is up... UNLESS we can convince the company that currently owns "Perrier" to sponsor the next few unmanned probes. With global warming causing sea levels to rise, Earth's suddenly going to have a lot more water. Perhaps we can export it to Mars.

Or we could redouble our efforts to fix this planet of it's ills...? Oh who am I kidding, right? LET'S FUCK UP MARS! FOR SCIENCE! and cuz it's there! and ...stuff!
posted by ZachsMind at 1:31 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obligatory: Coke-Sponsored Rover Finds Evidence Of Dasani On Mars
posted by nfg at 2:57 AM on June 20, 2008


Mmmmmmmmmm.

Can't wait until I can bust out a tasty, platinum coated, diamond encrusted MarsPuretm water in front of all my friends.

(And, ummmmm, ZachsMind - Make that 15 people. I thank my ex-wife for that one. Now, if you'll excuse, I need to get back to plastering all the 90 degree angles in my room before the Hounds find me...)
posted by Samizdata at 3:07 AM on June 20, 2008


I saw this elsewhere but didn't believe it so I went to CNN. Nothing.

I knew MeFi would have a link.
posted by DU at 4:09 AM on June 20, 2008


Bowie knows.
posted by Mintyblonde at 4:15 AM on June 20, 2008


Another bunch of links/photos/etc. Pardon my silliness. Shouldn't post when I'm busy.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:48 AM on June 20, 2008


This is huge.

Why? Not doubting, just wondering what the implications are, and how it compares with what we already knew. Didn't we already know there was ice water on Mars?
posted by stbalbach at 5:01 AM on June 20, 2008


just wondering what the implications are

Life.
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on June 20, 2008


Evidence for the existence of frozen cannonballs on Earth
posted by DU at 5:52 AM on June 20, 2008


If you think this is good news, what about the fact that said ice was detected in a mixture of 3 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth?
posted by _dario at 5:57 AM on June 20, 2008


I'm a huge fan of space, exploration and science, but this isn't huge, it's a dud. You supposedly have ice sitting in a hole you created and you can't even pick it up, let alone run a spectral analysis of it? Puh-lease! This is an attempt to fabricate results to better justify the millions (billions?) it cost to get there in the first place. The last time I checked, ice stayed ice at -29c (and that was the high for the day, not the low) Whatever it was could have been blown away or perhaps it was just the sun's shine.

No doubt the scientists have thought of this already and have logical reasons as to why my doubts are wrong but until they properly explain it this is tenuous proof at best, and hardly newsworthy as fact: water mars. By their own reasoning Amelia Earhart was made of ice.
posted by furtive at 6:20 AM on June 20, 2008


Snow and other water ices also sublime, although more slowly, at below-freezing temperatures.
posted by DU at 6:29 AM on June 20, 2008


You supposedly have ice sitting in a hole you created and you can't even pick it up, let alone run a spectral analysis of it?

Hush, you'll just hurt its feelings.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:39 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Days like today, I love living in the future.
posted by sugarfish at 6:47 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last time I checked, ice stayed ice at -29c

Did you check at 0.008 atmospheres of pressure while shining sun directly on the ice?
posted by roystgnr at 7:07 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


Furtive: The last time I checked, ice stayed ice at -29c

Except when ambient atmospheric pressure is 700-900 kPa. Then water does indeed sublimate from ice to vapor. And heck, even in my sea-level apartment ice cubes seem to last only about a week in my self-defrosting freezer, but that's due to a different process.

What makes this news from JPLs point of view (at least to those of us who actually have been following the story) is that while we already know there is water ice near the Martian polar north pole, there was no idea regarding how much and how close to the surface. Finding visible ice this close to the surface supports more optimistic models of water abundance.

Considering that the Phoenix team has had to deal with multiple software issues, the failure of their initial sample preparation protocol, and a limited number of analysis ovens, their caution seems quite understandable to me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2008


I want an analysis oven. Do they have them at Bed Bath and Beyond?
posted by spicynuts at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2008


Nah I checked last night. Try Linens and Things.
posted by Big_B at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2008


I, for one, welcome our new frozen-water-based Martian overlo... oh, never mind.
posted by kcds at 9:19 AM on June 20, 2008


Drainage!! I DRINK YOUR WATER ICE!!! I DRINK IT DOWN!
posted by spicynuts at 9:21 AM on June 20, 2008


more info
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2008


Also, see this and this.

Well, went I meant to say was that I don't think life can exist without evolving into obvious forms. I base this opinion on absolutely nothing.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:11 PM on June 20, 2008


Martian Skies
posted by homunculus at 3:27 PM on June 20, 2008


Thanks for the links guys.
posted by furtive at 4:05 PM on June 20, 2008


So NASA spent billions of dollars to find something on Mars that I can go buy a couple blocks away in my neighborhood grocery store.

I just love the irony of that. Or.. the other thing. Not irony. What's that called? Oh yeah. Stupidity and blatant waste of resources. Yeah that's it. Or maybe i AM thinking irony? What would Alanis call it?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:37 AM on June 21, 2008


One of the most amazing discoveries of our time. I'm literally doing a little happy dance about this every day. It's just that cool. Go NASA!
posted by agregoli at 3:22 PM on June 22, 2008


Oh jeez this makes me so happy to be alive!
posted by humannaire at 4:02 PM on June 22, 2008


It Once Rained on Mars
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on June 25, 2008


More big related news: The soil on Mars is suitable for growing stuff and could definitely support life.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2008


Water Found on the Moon
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2008


Incredible pictures of Mars - and they look surprisingly like some parts of Earth
posted by homunculus at 10:11 AM on July 16, 2008


Water, Water Everywhere on Mars
posted by homunculus at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2008


Dude, this picture is Awes.."The images were created by combining pictures taken from different orbits. The images can be viewed from different angles in three dimensions."

Well that kind of spoils the fun, don't it.
posted by cashman at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2008


There are some great (enhanced) pictures here. What is the object on the left-hand side of this though? It looks like a paper sack with 'Canada' on it.
posted by tellurian at 4:09 PM on July 16, 2008


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