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Phoenix Confirms Martian Water, Mission Extended
August 1, 2008 12:22 PM   Subscribe

"We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."
posted by finite (52 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
hyperbole. machines cannot touch or taste.
posted by quonsar at 12:28 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


but can they swim?
posted by yort at 12:30 PM on August 1, 2008


Meh. Call me when they find beer.
posted by monospace at 12:31 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I too would like to taste and touch that reportedly sweet, sweet Martian water.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:32 PM on August 1, 2008


least it's water that hasn't been through someone's bladder a million times.
posted by yort at 12:33 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


OH NO! NOT HYPERBOLE!
posted by penduluum at 12:33 PM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Now I am one step closer to my dream of having a bikini contest on the angry red planet.

Only three more steps to go. Although they are pretty big steps.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:33 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"...and as I speak, our scientists are working on a way to divert it to Phoenix."
posted by bicyclefish at 12:34 PM on August 1, 2008 [6 favorites]



hyperbole. machines cannot touch or taste.

TOUCHTASTEBOT 9000 WEEPS BITTER TEARS IT SHALL NEVER TASTE NOR WIPE AWAY FROM ITS RUST-STAINED CHEEKS
posted by Shepherd at 12:37 PM on August 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


How long until we figure out a way to mine it for the newest trendy bottled water?
posted by tinkertown at 12:38 PM on August 1, 2008


Dan Quayle was right!

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit...Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe." Vice President Dan Quayle, 8/11/89
posted by Floydd at 12:40 PM on August 1, 2008


but can they swim?

Asking if machines can swim is like asking if submarines can think... erm, no, asking if submarines can... um. Asking if computers can think is like... wait, what's the question?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:45 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


A whole planet full of NEW water to over-exploit!

YAY!

:/
posted by batmonkey at 12:45 PM on August 1, 2008


I say that, but 6yr old me is really giddy that we can do stuff like hunt for water on Mars now. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury, for providing the fuel for that tiny glee
posted by batmonkey at 12:47 PM on August 1, 2008


hyperbole. machines cannot touch or taste.

Sure they can. They just don't mean it when they tell you they love you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:48 PM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


I know that Arizona is extremely arid, and water is an increasingly severe problem for the state, but come on people! Mars? You're going to freaking Mars looking for water? There's no way that's economical.
posted by adamrice at 12:55 PM on August 1, 2008


Meh. Call me when they find beer 87 octane unleaded.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:57 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree with quonsar in that I think scientific information should retain a measure of clarity. When you see "touched and tasted", you think human. If something is written one way to impart some meaning, but actually means something else, that (especially in dealing with science) is shoddy journalism.

That said, this is interesting news! Like batmonkey mentioned, this brings out the giddy "I want to be an astronaut" in all of us. :)
posted by thatbrunette at 12:59 PM on August 1, 2008


Is it as good as Poland Spring?
posted by Postroad at 1:05 PM on August 1, 2008


Yawn, they found what they already were 99% sure was there.
posted by dibblda at 1:08 PM on August 1, 2008


Why should a robot not be able to touch or taste? They built it with instruments made for exactly those purposes.
posted by cmoj at 1:08 PM on August 1, 2008


Is it as good as Poland Spring?

I could take an empty bottle into the bathroom and bring you back something as "good" as Poland Spring.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:09 PM on August 1, 2008


What about high-fructose corn syrup? We can't have our sugary drinks without our HFCS!
posted by mark242 at 1:11 PM on August 1, 2008


"Mars is giving us some surprises," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona... finding from orbit of water ice near the surface and deciphering the newly observed stickiness

In a couple of decades, when the Martian soil spoors have made their way back to earth, infected us, and created a puppet-master-esque hive mind of the higher life forms on this planet, we're going to regret that we were unable to decipher the 'stickiness' more accurately.
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, Jupiter's 18th moon, Diabeetus, is made entirely of high-fructose corn syrup. The more you know!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:30 PM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


If something is written one way to impart some meaning, but actually means something else, that (especially in dealing with science) is shoddy journalism.

Well, agreed, but the "touched and tasted" in question is actually a quote from the lead scientist, so you can hardly blame the journalist. Also: did it trick anybodyinto thinking that we'd somehow put a person on Mars without it being all over the news? And that s/he'd gone around tasting things?
posted by penduluum at 1:33 PM on August 1, 2008


Ohh, nice derail. It's not hyperbole, it's an anthropomorphic metaphor, and given the array of chemical analysis equipment on that platform, it's a perfectly reasonable one.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:34 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


We already knew there was some amount of water locked in Martian polar cap ice. The real find is that it is so shallow, abundant, and accessible. Now, if they find LIQUID water in some form along the way, that'll be HUGE.
posted by brownpau at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2008


"additionally, our space robots have identified what look to be several objects of non-natural origin. specifically, one unbelievably massive rocket engine pointing at the sun. kind of surprised we hadn't seen that one before, to be honest. another was what appeared to be a dry-docked boat, and within said boat a kind of document, several pages long. we're still translating it, but here's what we've got of the title so far...

OP_RAT__N IC_ C_BE: RE_U_E G_OBA_ W_RM_NG B_ MO_ING P_AN_T A_AY F_OM S_N"
posted by shmegegge at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2008


Oh, I love that dirty water
Barsoom, you're my home
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:53 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


When I was a child I used to positively ache with the sense of untapped human potential that the future would doubtlessly allow us access to. Flying cars and personal jet-packs and radio-watches and colonies on Mars and journeys to the center of the Earth and time travel and the turning of the millennium and I was going to be around to see and enjoy all of it.

Now I'm an adult and have seen many of these things come to pass and all I can think about is how fucking useless all these hipsters are. Fuck!

hipsters ruined my future for me! Gah!
posted by Pecinpah at 2:10 PM on August 1, 2008


Where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars!
posted by finite at 2:16 PM on August 1, 2008


swimming robot.
posted by delmoi at 2:26 PM on August 1, 2008


Seems fitting.
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:28 PM on August 1, 2008


What is with that Dan Quayle quote? Does anyone know what he was talking about, or questioned about to prompt that?
posted by pwb503 at 2:34 PM on August 1, 2008


Yawn, they found what they already were 99% sure was there.

The transition from 99% to 100% is the difference between "all evidence points to it" and "there it fucking is, right there, holy shit, I'm gonna touch it! I touched it! Crap! Whoo!"

And considering the distance, and the period of time in which we were 99% sure there was no water whatsoever, it's a hell of a journey to have taken.

So away with your yawning.
posted by davejay at 2:50 PM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:56 PM on August 1, 2008


This reminds me of Eddie Izzard's bit about Neil Armstrong bringing back moon rocks.
But they went to the Moon and they brought back rock. They brought back rock! Trouble is, we’ve got rock. That was the one thing we didn’t need, wasn’t it?

“Rock, Neil? I don’t know whether you looked at the planet before you took off, but it’s made of fucking rock!”

“But it’s Moon rock…”

“Oh, fucking hell! This is Earth rock, Neil, come on! ( mocking ) Earth rock with special minerals. It’s rock, isn’t it? Have you heard? On the stock market, rock’s gone up three points! No, it hasn’t, has it? ‘Cause it’s fucking rock! We wanted diamonds, or sherbet or a squirrel with a gun!”

So they went to the Moon and they found rock. They’ve found ice as well recently, so it’s rocks and ice. What an exciting planet! Obviously a party planet. And they went to mars and found more rock, but it’s red this time, so… We’ve got the most boring solar system I’ve ever heard of…! And I’ve never heard of any!
(thanks to this site for a transcription. Even I don't have the entirety of Dress to Kill committed to memory verbatim, though I'm getting close.)

Water! We've already got water! Call me when they find a planet made of Jell-o.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:05 PM on August 1, 2008


Water dissolving...and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
UNDER the water
Carry the water
Water Remov-remov
Remove the water from the bottom of the ocean
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:31 PM on August 1, 2008


Call me when they find boobies on mars.
posted by spicynuts at 3:33 PM on August 1, 2008


OH NO! NOT HYPERBOLE!

YES! HYPERBOLE! IN OUTER SPACE!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:41 PM on August 1, 2008


IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:45 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


BUT THEY CAN TASTE YOU
posted by spicynuts at 3:48 PM on August 1, 2008


DESPITE WHAT SUPPOSED "SCIENTISTS" CLAIM, MACHINES CANNOT TOUCH OR TASTE, BUT THEY DO YELL LOUDLY FOR MOTOR OIL AND SPARE PARTS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:00 PM on August 1, 2008


Another robot swimming and doing other things
posted by anthill at 4:03 PM on August 1, 2008


grapefruitmoon, it's plain where Izzard was going with that but he was just plain wrong. Those rocks told us a great deal about our own world which we never would have figured out without them. In fact, the fact that they all resembled Earth rock more than rocks from other worlds gave us a mighty big hint about how the Moon formed. Those rocks contained knowledge. And the premium on that is infinite.

You can quibble that we might have gotten that datum less expensively with unmanned probes as we are now doing with such amazing work on Mars, but back in the day robots weren't nearly as good and there was the whole human adventure thing going on. Would we know today about the Big Collision without Apollo? It's hard to say, but I tend to think we'd be in the early stages of thinking it a crackpot theory in need of refutation, kind of the way the asteroid-vs-dinosaur folks were thought of in the 70's.
posted by localroger at 4:52 PM on August 1, 2008


The URL gives away the true importance of the Moon landing.

I agree completely with what localroger said.
posted by lukemeister at 5:19 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's a Martian gotta do to get a glass of water around here anyway?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:25 PM on August 1, 2008


I, for one, welcome our new Martian overlords !!! ----- after they evolve from single-celled amoebic organisms right now swimming around in said discovered water to become fearsome 8-tentacled giant cephalopods, develop spaceflight, and bring to us Earthlings the promise of infinite energy in the form of fusion!
posted by Anderson_Localized at 12:18 AM on August 2, 2008


(Um, I was joking around/being funny. I know that scientifically, bringing back rock from the moon was actually important.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:11 AM on August 2, 2008


On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog or a supporter of fundamental research.
posted by lukemeister at 11:08 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The notion that machines can neither touch nor taste is some of the most amazing dumb shit I've read on Metafilter, outside the political threads. Things can touch. Car tires touch the road, for example (duh).

And what do you think 'taste' is, anyway? It is chemical analysis. Sour/acid, bitter/alkaline, sweet/carbohydrates, and good ol' salt.
posted by Goofyy at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


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