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Image courtesy NASA
The photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor has scientists excited about the possibility of water on Mars

A new study of photographs have revealed that bright new deposits observed in gullies on the planet Mars may prove that water carried sediment through them sometime recently, according to NASA.  The U.S. space agency believes it has found "compelling" evidence that liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars.

The recent images were taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor space probe.  The discovery is important because it might help prove that the Red Planet has an environment that is favorable for living beings.  Just trying to find remote signs of liquid water on Mars has been a goal among scientists around the world for a number of years.  

The cameras on the Mars Global Surveyor were the first to take images that initially suggested water once flowed on Mars.  Scientists then went and searched valleys in search for conclusive evidence of water flow.  Just like most reports regarding Mars, there is some debate as to whether or not it really was liquid water -- some scientists claim that liquid carbon dioxide may have cut the gullies.

The findings by researchers were published today in the journal Science – NASA held a news conference to announce the results of the study.  The idea that water recently flowed on Mars is another piece of the puzzle that NASA is trying to put together about the still very foreign Red Planet.


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Terraform
By Serifan on 12/7/2006 2:16:02 AM , Rating: 0
All they need to do is figure out a way to melt all the ice on the Polar caps. In doing this the planet will slowly begin to build its own greenhouse and then bam! Earth 2.0




RE: Terraform
By Hypernova on 12/7/2006 3:04:11 AM , Rating: 1
And destroy the water supply? AFAIK only ice can stay on Mars since it doesn't have the gravity to retain a atmosphere thick enough. Due to the low pressure liquid water will boil immediatly and be lost to space (Again due to low gravity). The current water on Mars is probably only a very small fraction of what was there origionally.


RE: Terraform
By Serifan on 12/7/2006 4:23:48 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe but if they slowly melted the ice capes it would then turn to water and water turn into vapour which will help kill most of the CO2 and help revive the planet. while the remander will flood across the planet.


RE: Terraform
By copiedright on 12/7/2006 5:01:40 AM , Rating: 2
Mars, unlike earth, does not have a magnetic field. This would make any attempt to pressurise the atmosphere useless as it would be stripped away from the planet by the solar wind. Mars is simply too old and too small!

Our only hope to colonize another earth like planet is to jump across to a cooler Venus in about 500 million years.


RE: Terraform
By Blood Simple on 12/7/2006 5:19:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Mars, unlike earth, does not have a magnetic field. This would make any attempt to pressurise the atmosphere useless as it would be stripped away from the planet by the solar wind. Mars is simply too old and too small!


Ding ding ding, we have a winner. No magnetic field = any attempt at terra forming would be moot. The Atmosphere would just get stripped off into space again. Not to mention Solar radiation is quite lethal when no magnetic field is present to block it. The same fate would befall earth should it lose its field.

Mars had a magnetic field at one point, along with liquid water and an atmosphere. But once its Core cooled and turned solid, field go bye bye. Earth is massive enough that it will be eons before we lose our core and we will have long since destroyed the planet by other means.


RE: Terraform
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2006 10:11:50 AM , Rating: 2
> "Ding ding ding, we have a winner. No magnetic field = any attempt at terra forming would be moot. The Atmosphere would just get stripped off into space again..."

Err, thats a very slow process. The solar wind is estimated to complete the stripping of the Martian atmosphere in the next one hundred million years. A denser atmosphere would loss mass faster...but its still not a problem for human lifetimes.

The solar wind isn't a terrible problem for human colonization of Mars (or Luna, for that matter, where the flux is much higher).



RE: Terraform
By fk49 on 12/7/2006 4:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
Well actually, solar wind could be a very terrible problem on Mars. It has stripped much of the atmosphere and delivers lethal doses of radiation and plasma since the protective magnetosphere is no longer generated by Mars' core.

However, Mars seems to have 'plates' that are permanently magnetized, and provide a protective field over that area. These spots are relatively safe compared to the rest of unshielded Mars and show potential for further research and perhaps colonization.


RE: Terraform
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2006 5:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
The solar wind isn't the real problem, its solar flares that are dangerous. However, the radiation from them is easily blocked by lightweight materials. All colonists would need to do is stay inside during solar "bad weather", and they've negated nearly all the risk.

And, as you point out, there are areas of the Martian surface magnetized enough to provide some shielding effect.


RE: Terraform
By Spoelie on 12/7/2006 5:24:47 AM , Rating: 2
Venus doesn't have a decent magnetosphere as well, and it's day is approximately as long as its year. Also, vulcanic activity is actually making it hotter than cooling it down.


RE: Terraform
By copiedright on 12/8/2006 2:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
WHY THE HELL DID I GET RATED DOWN FOR THAT ONE?

I wish we could see who votes for each post.


RE: Terraform
By masher2 (blog) on 12/8/2006 9:06:01 AM , Rating: 1
Possibly because your posting was incorrect? :p


RE: Terraform
By copiedright on 12/8/2006 4:38:38 PM , Rating: 2
Well I have checked my sources and my posting was correct. What I cant understand is why I got voted down for that one, but didn't get voted down for the previous one.


RE: Terraform
By masher2 (blog) on 12/9/2006 12:44:54 PM , Rating: 1
You were correct in that Mars is not protected from the solar wind, but incorrect in the conclusion that this would make any attempt to terraform an atmosphere futile. Atmospheric loss is a very slow process that takes hundreds of millions of years.

Fill a car tire with air, and even the best sealed ones will go flat within a few decades. Yet we don't consider filling tires a "useless" endeavor...we simply add more air as needed. In the case of Mars, topping off would only be required every few million years. Not exactly a problem to be feared, assuming one can generate the atmosphere in the first place.


RE: Terraform
By timmiser on 12/8/2006 3:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, you need to have another cup of coffee.


RE: Terraform
By Nemisisorama on 12/10/2006 9:05:46 PM , Rating: 2
Oh sure, because the human race is still going to be around in 500 million years time. Mars,aside from our own moon, is the closest, and most viable option for our next step into our solar system. We should be focusing our efforts on what we can achieve, rather than what we cannot achieve. Unfortunately, everybody is an expert from the comfort of their computer chair......


RE: Terraform
By fishmonger12 on 12/7/2006 1:36:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Maybe but if they slowly melted the ice capes it would then turn to water and water turn into vapor which will help kill most of the CO2 and help revive the planet.


Yeah. I've got a reaction for it right here:

H2O + CO2 + BIG FIGHT ->(H+) H2O WINS NO CO2!


RE: Terraform
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2006 9:57:47 AM , Rating: 1
> "AFAIK only ice can stay on Mars since it doesn't have the gravity to retain a atmosphere thick enough. Due to the low pressure liquid water will boil immediatly and be lost to space (Again due to low gravity). "

True...however it would take several hundred to several thousand years to do so, so it would be a short-term solution. Diverting an ice-based comet to strike Mars has been one of the many terraforming suggestions.


RE: Terraform
By Visual on 12/7/2006 6:02:22 AM , Rating: 2
as others said terraforming mars would hardly work at all. and even if it does, it will surely not be as simple as melting its poles. and even if it were that simple, that's still way out of our capabilities.

we'll have much more luck with building a dome, probably the poles would be a good place so we can use the ice available for aquiring water and oxygen. thats how i imagine our first colonies.


RE: Terraform
By KaiserCSS on 12/7/2006 9:53:07 AM , Rating: 1
You guys are forgetting one minor detail regarding Mars:

Gravity.

Mars has only 38% the amount of gravity on Earth. No one quite knows what the long-term effects of such reduced gravity might be on a living organism from Earth. Forget Mission to Mars and Red Planet, which shows astronauts cavorting about on the surface of Mars as though it's gravity were equal to Earth's.


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