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Tracks left by Spirit -- Image courtesy of NASA
Findings collected by the Mars rover Spirit gets scientists excited for what other secrets the Red Planet may hide

Scientists have conducted a lot of research to discover signs of water and possible life on Mars.  A recent discovery by a NASA rover has created excitement in the scientific community: the Mars rover Spirit collected soil samples that makes scientists strongly believe Mars was once wet. 

The rover found some Martian soil with high levels of silica, which needs water to crystalize.  Basic chemical analysis on the soil revealed the soil composition contained up to 90 percent silica.  This soil, located in Gusev Crater, is the strongest evidence that water, at some point in the planet's history, existed.

Scientists are unsure how the silica deposit in the crater originally formed.  The most likely theory is that soil mixed with acid vapors, created by volcanic activity, along with a strong presence of water.  Another popular idea is that the silica was created from water from a hot spring.

Spirit's discovery "reinforces the fact that significant amounts of water were present in Mars' past, which continues to spur the hope that we can show that Mars was once habitable and possibly supported life," said Doug McCuistion, NASA Mars exploration program director.

Oddly enough, the silica discovery happened due to a Spirit mechanical problem.  The bright patches of silica-rich soil were discovered when one of the rover's wheels dragged through the topsoil, revealing the bright colored silica-soil underneath.

Scientists are anxious to continue their research to discover what else is on the Red Planet.  Research indicates ice under the Martian surface varies in depth from location to location.
Late last year, NASA researchers used the Mars Global Surveyor to discover water flowed recently on the Red Planet.

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By cochy on 5/22/2007 1:16:32 PM , Rating: 5
Isn't it pretty much a foregone conclusion that Mars once had water, and plenty of it?

Mars has massive canyons that put the Grand Canyon to shame. How can you get a canyon like this without water?

RE: Hmmm
By P4blo on 5/22/2007 1:26:17 PM , Rating: 4
High winds and sand can make for a very abrasive combination. But I have to agree, when you look at the pictures of Mars's surface, it's pretty obvious something was flowing. A few scientists have hypothesised that it might have been liquid methane though or something.

RE: Hmmm
By cochy on 5/22/2007 1:35:14 PM , Rating: 3
Well I thought about winds but that would carve a relatively straight canyon. Winds don't wind and turn like rivers. In terms of another liquid carving the canyon, now I'm out of my element but maybe the density/other property of water vs. methane might make one a better choice for it's "erodability" factor.

RE: Hmmm
By Lightning III on 5/22/2007 2:16:17 PM , Rating: 4
wind water or methane it's the hardness of the rock earth or soil that makes it twist and turn ,

not if its wind or water


RE: Hmmm
By cochy on 5/22/2007 5:02:10 PM , Rating: 2
good point!

RE: Hmmm
By Goty on 5/22/2007 2:40:57 PM , Rating: 3
Couldn't have been liqid methane, not nearly cold enough. You don't start forming liquid methane until you're well out into the area occupied by the Jovian planets.

RE: Hmmm
By theapparition on 5/23/2007 9:48:42 AM , Rating: 2
Nor can liquid water exist on the surface of Mars either, right now. But in the past, the enviroment may have supported liquid water, or liquid methane.

But in general, I do agree. I don't think it was methane.

RE: Hmmm
By Goty on 5/23/2007 11:59:57 AM , Rating: 2
The temperature of the vacuum between the planets between the orbits of Earth and the Asteroid belt is too high for Methane to condense out into a liquid.

So basically, no, Mars never had liquid Methane.

RE: Hmmm
By goz314 on 5/22/2007 1:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
How can you get a canyon like this without water?

Volcanic activity and tectonic movements also involve forces that can form canyons or canyon-like features.

RE: Hmmm
By cochy on 5/22/2007 2:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
All good points, prompted me to read the wiki article

Seems the ruled out water because it's presently too cold for liquid water to form on the surface. Seems a little short sighted to me as this canyon was formed millions to billions of years ago.

RE: Hmmm
By Ringold on 5/22/2007 6:05:46 PM , Rating: 4
That's about the level of sophistication I expect from Wikipedia. Written like someone who can read out of a textbook but makes simple mistakes because they really don't know what they're typing about.

RE: Hmmm
By GI2K on 5/23/2007 12:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
If you can do better feel free to edit that page...

RE: Hmmm
By Jonahdaily on 5/23/2007 5:13:25 AM , Rating: 2
This may come as a shock to many but there are other theories around concering the water on Mars. People should do a bit of research and not only believe what mainstream popular science has to offer.

There is a very plausable theory of a missing planet that has exploded. This planet had a lot of water much like earth has now. This planet is at this stage the only real explanation of the origen of comets. The traditional models are insuffisient. It is the only model that can explain all the meteorites properly and has even successfully been used to predict meteorite showers. It also explains the water on Jupiter's moon's and is probably the sole cause of craters on our solar system's planets and our own moon.

Mars could have been just a close planet, but more likely was a moon of this planet. That would explain why Mars' souther hemosphere's crust is thicker. It starts off at about 20km and thins out to 1km. The whole northern hemosphere is about 1km thick. Mars was struck from the south. Mars was probably covered with water completely. Unfortunately Mars' gravity is not strong enough and ass time passed, it lost a lot of its water. I think that most of it just sank into Mars' soil and rocks where it frose. The comet and meteorite kept hitting the planet though. The craters looks like when you throw pebles into a mud pond. Since the Southern hemisphere is thicker, the water flowed to the lower regions which caused canyons. The water covered areas also show much fewer craters.

This also did not happen that long ago geologicaly speaking. The craters should have dissapeared log ago because Mars' atmosphere is dense enough for that and has a lot of wind storms for erosion.

RE: Hmmm
By cocoman on 5/23/2007 4:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have never ever read something like this. And I read a lot about astronomy and space in general. Explaining water on Europa (the moon of jupiter that has water) and meteorite showers by the explotion of a planet is just ridiculous. Water can be explained the same way there is water on Earth. Not because of some misterious missing planet. And meteorite showers happen because there is a meteor belt in the solar system and every time we cross that part of the system, which happens every year at the same time (that is why we can predict them), we have meteorite showers. The explanaition for them is no misterious planet that exploded.

RE: Hmmm
By Jonahdaily on 5/24/2007 4:59:44 AM , Rating: 2
I see more and more that people are getting so used to believe just everything the popular media dishes out and that becomes their standard by which they judge everything else. When anybody questions that, they are branded immediately without even considdering their point of view for a second, well maybe for two seconds.

This theory is not that new, but does contradict other theories. Remember that all of these theories, including this one, are just that, theories! Even when we talk about facts we are talking about interpreted evidence.

When I talk about this, I will use words like "could have been." People today just say "it happended like this and that..."

This theory is plausable and could give us great insight into where the asteroid belt comes from and where comets come from. Mars is the most unusual of our solid planets. The craters and canyons baffle scientists seriously. There is even sediment layers in the canyon walls. Many might think it took millions of years to build up. If there was a catastrophy, this sedimentation could collect in a very short time. The canyon has also shown to have formed in a short time, like Dry Falls.

We still have the problem of Mars' craters that looked like they were made in mud.

Traces of Sodium were found in a tail of a comet which could indicate that it originated from an ocean much like ours. Ofcourse this is not conclusive evidence but I think the theory is worth investigating. Do not just slam it. Proper science exhausts a theory to the full extent before discarding it.

By Treckin on 5/22/2007 12:48:42 PM , Rating: 2
That was the first thing I noticed...

Oh! Heres some SILICA!! Maybe there was some water here at some time! (sinks in the mud...)

I would say the day they find fossils on Mar will be the end of many peoples Internet argumentation careers. I mean, life found on two separate planets in one star system... That would just ruin the skeptics out there who say life is unique to Earth...

I wonder what the official position of the Catholic Church would be on that discovery (in that event?). Especially if there was life on both Europa (one of Jupiter's moons), and Mars.

RE: lol
By P4blo on 5/22/07, Rating: 0
RE: lol
By dsumanik on 5/22/2007 1:53:34 PM , Rating: 2
I tihnk its great we are sending interplanetary probes out there...even if it is just to discover what may be somewhat obvious.

To much of science is based on educated guesses, mathmatecial proofs and estimations.....try asking your university astrophysics professor a question..the answer will always start with:

"we think" or "they say"

Hard physical evidence is irrefutable, and quite frankly im glad they are sending mars probes out there first to try and find water....if they can find a viable source your dream of colonization and interplanetary travel just got about a zillion times cheaper and more likely.

I wouldn't launch any major space exploration without sending some cheap probes out there first to poke around?

Man dont you watch star trek or star wars they always sendin probes out first...and let me tell you picard/vader knows whats up

peace out homeslice, and keep yo pimp walk fly....

RE: lol
By P4blo on 5/22/2007 2:55:34 PM , Rating: 1
>Hard physical evidence is irrefutable, and quite frankly >im glad they are sending mars probes out there first to >try and find water....if they can find a viable source >your dream of colonization and interplanetary travel just >got about a zillion times cheaper and more likely.

Yep, I was being a tad dismissive but finding water is clearly very important. How else am I going to cool my rig if I move out there?

>Man dont you watch star trek or star wars they always >sendin probes out first...and let me tell you picard/vader >knows whats up

Not enough obviously, hey I thought they always sent the single most important person down (the captain) when a new and potentially deadly world was discovered. Must have worked as Cap'n Kirk never got the bad news. Picard on the other hand was a lazy git he just got his space minions to 'make it so'.

>peace out homeslice, and keep yo pimp walk fly....


RE: lol
By cupocoffee on 5/22/2007 3:21:39 PM , Rating: 4
I see why you make these points but they seem pretty obvious to anyone who hasn't been kidnapped by dogma.

On the contrary, you appear to have been kidnapped by your own set of dogmas. You first point that life exists throughout the universe has no support. You should read "Rare Earth" by Ward and Brownlee. These two authors seem to be fairly naturalistic as you appear to be, but argue rather convincingly that Earth is indeed rare along with its lifeforms. My point is, whether or not life exists elsewhere is an open question.

Your second point is equally emotional. The church has simply adapted throughout history. There is nothing wrong with admitting a mistake and then adjusting to accept the truth. This is how life works. You have a worldview that adapts as more information is obtained. I don't think the church would have a problem if it were found that life exists elsewhere, but that is another topic.

RE: lol
By P4blo on 5/23/2007 4:57:18 AM , Rating: 1
I'm sorry but you'll never convince me in a million years that life on earth is where it all stops. I find the notion so laughable. It's like a fish in a pond thinking his little watering hole is the end of the earth.

My objection to this kind of thinking is from the self centered and egotistical undertones that seem to support it.

Many people have heard of Ockham's Razor right? Well the very tip of that razor represents life on earth and nowhere else. Thanks but I would rather stay where the good odds are to be found.

RE: lol
By cupocoffee on 5/23/2007 5:57:39 PM , Rating: 2
I don't desire to convince you that life on Earth is the only place it exists. I do not necessarily support this myself. However, I also do not support the notion that life does exist elsewhere. My point is simply that, to be honest, we must admit that at this point we don't know. That is why we are looking for it.

My objection to this kind of thinking is from the self centered and egotistical undertones that seem to support it.

Even if it appears to be self centered, this does not mean that it is not the current state of reality.

Thanks but I would rather stay where the good odds are to be found.

If you read the book that I mentioned above, I think you would find compelling evidence that life may indeed be rare.

RE: lol
By Vanilla Thunder on 5/22/2007 5:07:19 PM , Rating: 5
During history they have repeatedly changed their stance when proven wrong.

Isn't that the natural progression of ideas? It makes you smarter to change your stance when PROVEN wrong, than to blindly fight for something you know is incorrect.


RE: lol
By ZoZo on 5/22/2007 8:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
But always being proven wrong takes your credibility away.

RE: lol
By P4blo on 5/23/2007 4:37:53 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly. The Church knows nothing about creation, nothing at all. Yet it seems to have a lot to say about it. The ideas it perpetuates about it are generally self serving. So when an institution like that sticks it's neck out and repeatedly gets proven wrong through history, some people are going to delight in calling them fraudsters.

The church can tell me thou shalt not this that and the other if it likes. But dont tell me Earth was knocked up in a week and evolution doesn't exist.

RE: lol
By zsdersw on 5/23/2007 6:28:43 AM , Rating: 2
Intelligent Design is their bridge between pure faith and the realities of science that are all around them.

I'm not sure what subject Intelligent Design would be most suited for in school, because it's certainly not science.. and it's not really theology or religion either. Maybe that means it shouldn't be taught at all. :)

RE: lol
By vortmax on 5/23/2007 11:39:56 AM , Rating: 3
Intelligent Design is just a politically correct term for Creationism. I wouldn't say it's a comprimise between faith and science.

Science hasn't come any closer in determining how everything came into existence. It has revealed however, based on the extreme complexity of life on Earth, pointed us even more towards an Intelligent Designer.

RE: lol
By cupocoffee on 5/23/2007 6:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
Intelligent Design is just a politically correct term for Creationism.

Actually, this is not necessarily true. Intelligent Design can be used by creationists to support their views. However, the concept itself simply states that the complexity of the universe implies that someone designed it. Technically, this somebody could be an alien or it could be God. My point: Intelligent Design does not label the designer.

Think of Intelligent Design as being analogous to forensics. Forensics is based on the idea that evidence at a scene can be collected and analyzed to determine how events occurred and whether or not they were "designed" by an intelligent mind.

RE: lol
By cupocoffee on 5/23/2007 6:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what subject Intelligent Design would be most suited for in school, because it's certainly not science..

Please give evidence for why you think it is not science. Common themes of Intelligent Design include irreducible complexity, fine tuning of universal natural constants, concepts of what is and is not information, and the probabilities that the above can occur through naturalistic means.

I don't see how investigations into such topics is unscientific unless if you are a hard core materialist who believes as a premise that science is most certainly naturalistic despite any proof given against that notion. I myself adhere to the empirical platform of science.

RE: lol
By Oregonian2 on 5/22/2007 3:21:52 PM , Rating: 5
Don't know what the Pope himself thinks, but I don't recall any doctrine that provides for exclusivity about God and life on Earth. If anything, I recall something about God being everywhere in the universe, and if so perhaps allowed by the church to do something while there. Don't think God asks the church for permission to do works elsewhere -- places where the church itself says God exists.

Comet collision and water/ice
By TennesseeTony on 5/22/2007 4:40:52 PM , Rating: 3
I vote that the WATER most likely came from an impact, as this IS a crater, with a Comet, which is widely accepted to be a dirty snowball.

As for the poster who thinks the polar ice caps are ice, you are right, but it is not WATER ice. It is frozen carbon dioxide, Dry Ice.

Your keyboard is not equipped with a brain, so please use yours. :)

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By cochy on 5/22/2007 4:57:33 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to agree with you. I just read the wiki on silica and not once did it mention water anywhere in the article

Silicon dioxide is formed when silicon is exposed to oxygen (or air)

It also mentioned silica can be found in meteor craters.

...So ya.

I know there's oxygen in water, but water isn't the only place oxygen can be found.

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By cochy on 5/22/2007 4:59:28 PM , Rating: 2
woops I'm half agreeing with you. I agree it was formed as a result of an impact, but not necessarily due to the presence of any water.

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By Ringold on 5/22/2007 6:15:17 PM , Rating: 3
It makes up only .13% of the atmosphere, so water would be much more convenient. I dont see the controvery; water fits as well as anything (especially the older the area is, as Mars was much warmer before it bled much of its atmosphere off in to space due to weak gravity and magnetic field), and it would just be evidence of water, not dinosaurs.

RE: Comet collision and water/ice
By cocoman on 5/23/2007 4:28:33 PM , Rating: 2
Actually scientist don´t use the word Dry Ice to describe carbon dioxide in a solid state. It IS water H2O on a solid state, also calle ice. And we allready know there is water on mars (on a solid state). There is a european satellite in orbit that detects water. And guess what. It discovered it in Mars, there is even a map wich describes the location of it and there is a lot of it. Why do we know it is ice? Becuase temperature in Mars is way lower than freezing temperature.

By NaughtyGeek on 5/22/2007 12:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't it just as likely, if not more so, that this was created by an icy meteor collision?

RE: Meteor?
By zsdersw on 5/22/2007 12:47:33 PM , Rating: 2
If that were the case, then ice should only be found at or near meteor impact sites. That doesn't explain the ice in Mars' polar region(s).

RE: Meteor?
By zsdersw on 5/22/2007 12:48:14 PM , Rating: 2
.. Ice or evidence of water, I mean.

RE: Meteor?
By Lightning III on 5/22/2007 2:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
This soil, located in Gusev Crater,

uhhh duhhh

RE: Meteor?
By zsdersw on 5/22/2007 2:50:50 PM , Rating: 3
"That doesn't explain the ice in Mars' polar region(s)."

Uhh.. duh.

Inaccurate commentary
By 91TTZ on 5/22/2007 12:33:53 PM , Rating: 3
Oddly enough, the silica discovery happened due to a Spirit mechanical problem. The bright patches of silica-rich soil were discovered because one of the rover's wheels dragged through the mud, revealing the bright colored soil.

It dragged through the mud ? Mud is a mixture of water and dirt. They haven't found "mud" anywhere on Mars yet, they've only found circumstantial evidence of water in the very dry dirt on the planet.

RE: Inaccurate commentary
By TheDrD on 5/22/2007 12:48:34 PM , Rating: 2
DT just fixed it to say topsoil...

RE: Inaccurate commentary
By Ringold on 5/22/2007 6:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
Topsoil? My mother will be pleased; a little fertilizer and she'll have herself a rose garden to match the rest of the landscape.

Large rift across mars
By Ascanius on 5/23/2007 1:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
The large rift that goes across mars is formed by a close encounter with the not so spoken of 12th planet called Nibiru / Marduk, that formed all the water into silica in a "vulcanic" event, like in a big part of the planet was ripped up.

Before that Mars was a planet a bit like ours, but even more important, soon Nibiru/Marduk is to hit Earth, as we can do nothing or so it is descided, it is politically vise and better to tell nothing about either who or what we are, just as certain history is not important to tell or even important not to tell, just as there is no point in telling a for many people scary future, but when our 12th planets enters the inner solar system once more, it is our turn, it will be the seventh and last time for US to see Nibiru / Marduk up close, that is what all the calendars such as Maya, inka, Vedan, Tibetan, Egyptian calendars where made for, to calculate that and off course one more thing regarding us as a species/container.

Nibiru / Marduk is over double the size of earth, it will be seen as a red glow on the sky when it comes near, so it was observed all the other times.

It has a long eliptic course that makes it take between "3600(Tzolken)-3661 (Sumerian-devine 60 system)" years of travel to do one cycle, it only enters our inner system for a short period of years, most likely we will only be able to see it 4-6 years before by our own eyes and only 2 years before due to the heavy light polution if you are in a populated area.

RE: Large rift across mars
By johnsonx on 5/23/2007 4:57:59 PM , Rating: 1

Please relize my sarcasm but...
By Nyne on 5/22/2007 3:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
What if its really humans that have evolved to be pure water and turn to ice if they feel like there picture is going to be taken.

Now that I have my sarcasm out of the way. This discovery isn't that important it is a sign however that points towards something that is important. This isn't my field but I am a scientist and a researcher and developer of technologies and what this really could mean is that Mars could be going through a re-genesis a restoration or beginning of a life sustaining phase. Now, I am not saying its inhabitable now but the movement of water is key to that beginning if the planet is beginning to get h20 into its atmosphere and/or water is being brought out from the inner part of the planet it could be early signs for a coming genesis and possible sister world leaping us forward to a type 2 civilization. However we are not even a type one and it would be thousands of years before Mars is naturally ready but with more research maybe we could help it along and allow the genesis to occur sooner more rapidly and support us in the next 3 or 5 hundred years at the earliest. But who knows until we get more data and observe a little more this could all be hearsay and whatnot like I said this is only news worthy because of what it could mean not what it does mean and like I said this isn't my field I merely dabble I welcome response and links to further data.

My fellow dailytechies Live Long and Prosper.

to the man...
By Treckin on 5/22/2007 10:47:03 PM , Rating: 2
to the poster that said that god never has to ask the church bleh bleh bleh...
I was under the impression that in the catholic faith, the church is the unitary provider of information about/from god. Also, the pope is supposedly the voice of god, therefor, we should just ask HIM whether or not there is life out there... would save the governments of the world a whole lota money doing away with all that SILLY exploration. (that was sarcastic... for those to moronic to recognize it)

I was wondering, innocently, how the church would deal theologically with life on other worlds; such a discovery would be far more antithetical to any present or foreseeable church cannon than a round-earth or solar-centric planetary alignment.
I was not criticizing the faith for their beliefs, but merely wondering how the church would deal with such a factual blow. In catholicism, god created the earth, not the supposed 2000 earths. To restate, to Catholics, the church is the unitary source of information about god...

Also, to the posters who were debating about the ice content/origins of the silica on Mars...
quoted from the NASA article:
"Liquid water, as opposed to the water ice and water vapor known to exist at Mars, is considered necessary for life."
NASA is no longer questioning whether or not water exists on Mars, that has been confirmed. This discovery, a mere curiosity, is not a headline for that reason. They are no longer searching for the existence of water, but looking for more and possibly liquid water, as written here:

bright new deposits seen in two gullies on Mars that suggest water carried sediment through them sometime during the past seven years.

"These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars,"

From the same linked article, Dec 2006

Not surprised.
By vhx on 5/23/2007 3:25:44 AM , Rating: 2
Not surprised really. My friend sent me this awhile ago and I thought this was interesting: which is sort of a compilation of stuff from

By cheetah2k on 5/23/2007 2:50:17 AM , Rating: 1
Did they find any Transformers?? or do we have to wait till July to find out??

This is a joke
By GlassHouse69 on 5/22/07, Rating: -1
RE: This is a joke
By retrospooty on 5/22/2007 3:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you should get a life... LOL

RE: This is a joke
By johnsonx on 5/22/2007 7:16:50 PM , Rating: 1
One of many comments that makes one lament the fact that the lowest rating a post can attain is -1.

I'm certain I'm not alone in agreement with 'Everyone' and 'they': You're stupid AND ignorant.

RE: This is a joke
By GlassHouse69 on 5/23/07, Rating: -1
RE: This is a joke
By johnsonx on 5/23/2007 3:23:36 AM , Rating: 3
Oh, touche! You've certainly put me in my place. Well done sir!

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs
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