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Half of Mars May Have Ice

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the submerged-oceans dept.

Mars 66

Ixlr8 sends in a BBC story suggesting that up to half of Mars may have ice at varying depths below the surface. Quoting: "Up until now, scientists had been able to search for water deposits using a spectrometer fixed to the orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft. However, only readings that are accurate to within several hundred kilometers can be obtained. By comparing seasonal changes in thermal infrared patterns, detected by the same Odyssey spacecraft, [scientists] can make readings accurate to within just hundreds of meters."

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Twofo GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18974827)

Faggots. [twofo.co.uk]

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Important news regarding Mars (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18975901)

A recent study has shown that not only does Mars have ice, but kdawson has Zonk and CmdrTaco's "ice" all over his face.

Really interesting, but new technique? (4, Interesting)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18974833)

The TFA is just long enough to piss you off that its not longer and more detailed. You walk away with a picture of lakes and possibly oceans iced over and covered up by a few million years of space dust.

Apparently, instead of using a spectrometer, he's comparing seasonal changes in thermal infrared patterns. It doesn't mention if he's comparing AGAINST spectrometer data, it doesn't mention how he's able to determine depth, and it doesn't mention why its any more accurate than just using a spectrometer.

I could tell that someone who knows much less than I do about how to find water on mars wrote the article, and I know next to nothing on the subject. After reading TFA, I still know next to nothing on the subject.

Re:Really interesting, but new technique? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18975031)

What do you want from the BBC, it's not like the in depth reporting you would get from CNN or Fox...
seriously, wait for a proper space news portal to give you the details you want... like space.com or sciam.com or some other science related website puts up proper coverage. Complaining about the BBC science department is like complaining that your dog can't talk to tell you it left you a surprise in you slipper...

Re:Really interesting, but new technique? (2, Interesting)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975483)

What do you want from the BBC

I want the authors to pretend to show interest in the things that they author :) I think i'm annoyed at the total lack of any evidence that the reporter asked any questions at all.

I can't expect everyone to get a twinkle in their eye if we come a little closer to colonizing other planets, but I can get pissed off occasionally when they don't I suppose, especially if its a reporter.

Mars isn't the only place (hopefully) that these investigations will take place. You don't need to understand the technology to appreciate its usefulness and ask a few questions.

But, good point. Its not (entirely) the BBC's fault.

Re:Really interesting, but new technique? (4, Informative)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975493)

Try Space.com on the same story (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070502_mars _ice.html [space.com] ). for a slightly more meaty version. Evidently using data from a new bird with higher resolution combined with assumptions on effectiveness of soil insulation.

Re:Really interesting, but new technique? (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975767)

BBC News is a mainstream news organization, they're hardly going to start providing detailed scientific analysis of the comparison methods used and quite frankly, I'm very glad they don't!

Even as an academic, I often don't want to read 20 pages of boring scientific detail and on the frequent occasions that I DO want to research the topic further I go to a suitable website specializing in that field or even try and get a look at the research paper.

The motto of the story is: Pick the right tool for the right job. BBC stories normally give good summaries of scientific stories (far better than our news services do anyway!) but that is all they are, summaries.

Re:Really interesting, but new technique? (3, Informative)

tardyon (1068838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975891)

I read (some of) the Nature article. They are not using the spectrometer data at all - except by way of saying "there really is ice there". What they are doing is measuring, using infrared cameras only, how quickly the surface changes temperature due to seasonal changes. Water (ice) has a huge specific heat capacity, so it changes temperature more slowly. The more ice mixed in with the dust/rock, the more slowly it changes temperature.

To get depth, they note that the surface temperature changes first, then the temperature change slowly trickles down to deeper layers. So stuff that changes temperature really fast has no matter near the surface, stuff that changes slow has some water near the surface, and stuff that changes initially very fast but then stops and lets everything else catch up and surpass it has ice but its buried deep.

Naturally it's more complicated than this. They used computer simulations to help figure out what their observations probably meant in terms of amount of ice and depth of ice, but that's the gist it (as far as I can tell).

Re:Really interesting, but new technique? (1)

FluxIntegrator (1094517) | more than 7 years ago | (#18985007)

The day they extract any significant amounts of water from mars is the day I'll care. This is simply propaganda for more funding. It is extremely low of NASA to stoop to the level of playing on people's emotions and primal need for water for more funding. This is an absolutely disgraceful thing for NASA to do. But it shows you the state of the world we're living in. People will do just about anything to make money, just look at reality TV. I really don't know what else to say, but that this is low, disgraceful, and very unbecoming of NASA.

Yes, I realize that "water" molecules may exist, but water is simply hydrogen and oxygen. It's bound to occur all throughout the universe. But, the real question is, what is the practical significance of water's existence on other planets? How is this going to help humanity? The answer, at this point, is that there is little to no practical significance. This is not, in any measurably small way going to help humanity in the next 60 years, if things keep going the way they have been going. If scientists and engineers weren't wasting their time doing this crap they could significantly improve the quality of human life here on Earth. Going to the Moon WAS an important goal, it gave the U.S. a direction, it gave the U.S. a meaning, it gave the U.S. a purpose, and besides that, the Moon, unlike Mars is the closest sizeable object to Earth. We need to establish a presence on the Moon before we even TALK about going to Mars or other locations in our solar system. I don't see that happening any time soon unless we resolve some very fundamental issues here on Earth. Scientists and engineers are some of the smartest people on this planet, and their more interested in LEAVING the planet then fixing the problems we have. Well, I can say right now that NOBODY is going to be leaving if we don't fix these social problems. Humanity will not survive if we do not fix the underlying problems ( religion, conservatives, extremists, drugs, etc...).

And most of all, the U.S. needs a president that will provide a direction, meaning, and purpose for our country, not these wishy-washy politicians. Now is the time, when the REST of the world needs to step up and be an example for the United States. Now is the time, when leaders from other countries need to step up and give a clear meaning, and purpose to their countries. Now is the time when we should get rid of these wishy-washy politicians, and replace them with real political leaders that will guide the tremendous power they've been and that they are now wasting. Now is the TIME for change!!!

Half of Mars may have ice (1, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18974845)

Let the other half eat cake.

The Halfs and the Halfs-Not (2, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18976081)

You see, this is the problem with Mars: One half has all the ice and the other half has none. There should be an equitable sharing of the ice. We need to get some Marsxists up there ASAP.

Either that, or the other half of Mars needs to get some ice quickly. After all, we cannot have an Ice gap...

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18974867)

Great, now we only need Parrot Bay and some Sprite.

Duh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18974879)

It's holding its wee for a Nintendo Wii.

*dodges tomato*

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18977795)

kdawson would like your wee in his mouth.

A new earth for us (0)

vipintm (903567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18974895)

If this is the case, there is a posibility of feture place to live. H2O give oxigen for living kind.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18974933)

I never understood the argument for populating another planet as a means for survival. Surely it'll be easier to undo whatever we do to this planet -- a planet with resources we've harnessed, that has equipment, that we know has supported life -- than it would be to make another planet survivable.

But I'm not the smartest man in the world, although I am in the running for smartest ass in the world.

Re:A new earth for us (3, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975151)

I dunno about anyone else, but when I try to fix something, I tend to make it worse or even break more things before I fix the problem. Making another survivable world would teach us a lot about how to fix our own, without making things worse on our own planet first.

Other arguments about global natural disasters, such as asteroid impacts, collapse of the earth's magnetic field, the eventual burnout of our own sun, ect, also provide reasons why the earth is not enough.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

TherilAlPenn (870249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975171)

That may be true, but it would be hard undoing "whatever we do to this planet" if we kill ourselves doing it. Or if something totally unexpected happens that we can't plan for, prevent, or adapt to.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975185)

Surely it'll be easier to undo whatever we do to this planet -- a planet with resources we've harnessed, that has equipment, that we know has supported life -- than it would be to make another planet survivable.

I agree with that, but hopefully, if and when we populate another planet, it won't be because we screwed this one up, it'll because we filled this one up. It would also increase our probability for survival because we won't all be in one place. So we won't all die when the Vogons come.

Re:A new earth for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18975205)

Well, people need SOME kind of excuse to go flying through space, and fund research to find new types of propulsion to get us farther faster.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975255)

I agree. People aren't cut out for inter-planetary colonization. We evolved here, with Earth's life all around us, and other environments either poison us, starve us of resources available here (like air and water), freeze us, bake us, or crush us. We'll have colonized much of the sea floor long before we terraform Mars. I suspect that robots we create will colonize space and/or other planets long before we do, and that's pretty darned unlikely. If interstellar travel takes 1,000 years, that's a big problem for humans, but not so much for a robot.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975403)

If we take life to Mars, life will evolve there all the same as it has here. Colonization will mean people and a bunch of bacteria, etc. Life will adapt with enough time in an environment that is even barely viable.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 7 years ago | (#18976287)

Considering that our species first appeared in central African grasslands and has since spread to every continent and latitude on the planet (yes, scientists living in Antarctica count)we are a surprisingly resilient species. Low-oxygen mountain regions, arctic tundra, jungles, deserts - these are all environments that our species has learned to live in through physiological and technological adaptations. Humans aren't all that fragile.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18977213)

All in all, I'd say we're pretty amazing creatures. I worry (just a little) that someday our own creations might become intelligent and take over the world, like in so many sci-fi novels. However, two people can take nothing but plants and water and use them to create more people. As our computers become exponentially more powerful, the fabs needed to make them become exponentially more expensive. Survival for a machine race would be far more fragile than for humans (blow up a few fabs, terminate the race). However, we seem to be making far better progress towards building machines complex enough to think than we are at interplanetary colonization. Our basic space craft has not really improved much in 40 years, and if our machines can continue advancing for another 40 years at this rate, they will hands down out-compute us. If our space craft continue to improve at this rate, we'll have... nothing special.

Re:A new earth for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18976375)

If interstellar travel takes 1,000 years, that's a big problem for humans, but not so much for a robot.


Please name one autonomous man-made creation that is 1000 years of age and still working without any maintenance.

Re:A new earth for us (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975643)

I never understood the argument for populating another planet as a means for survival.
The same reason you use RAID to help your data survive. Redundancy. When the big one (meteor) hits, it won't wipe out the entire species.

Although, it should be said that Redundant Array of Planetary Environments doesn't acronymize as well as Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

Longfinger (568282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18976573)

well done

Re:A new earth for us (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18976759)

The same reason you use RAID to help your data survive. Redundancy.

Or we could use the other aspect of RAID and use another planet for the human population to grow faster ;-).

Re:A new earth for us (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18978417)

Well I was going to point out that since the point of RAID is using cheaper drives whose reliability comes from redundancy that this should be included in the acronym, but then I realized that Redundant Array of Inexpensive Planets isn't any better. :(

Re:A new earth for us (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18978991)

I thought about that, but also I don't think it'll be cheap to set up shop on Mars or other planets. Plus, I thought the acronym pretty fitting for how we treat planetary environments (well, the one we have access to) in general.

Re:A new earth for us (4, Insightful)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975705)

I never understood the argument for populating another planet as a means for survival. Surely it'll be easier to undo whatever we do to this planet -- a planet with resources we've harnessed, that has equipment, that we know has supported life -- than it would be to make another planet survivable.


If you understand that we are by nature parasites, and that 'shit happens', you'll see the need evidence itself.

Humans have only two (real) predators. Ourselves and viruses. There currently isn't much else keeping us in check on a regular basis.

Think about virusus for a minute because they are amazing survivors. A smart virus never fully disables or consumes its host. It knows if the host goes away, it goes away unless it can find another host.

Since, to this planet we are very much a virus, we need to be comfortable just admitting it, realizing that there is a high probability that we will do something terminally bad to this planet and find space to spread out. If we don't outright destroy it, we will overconsume it or die trying. Reference my previous statement, we have no natural predators other than ourselves and viruses. Now, we create viruses - even worse, genome specific viruses.

We have nukes, H-Bombs, American Idol, (I could go on).

The common cold is probably one of the best survivors I know of. It spreads from host to host easily and never really disables them. It can stay as long as it wants because it mutates so well. We need to aspire to be a cosmic cold in order to perpetuate, there is no question about it.

Hey, you asked :)

Re:A new earth for us (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975817)

I still say it's easier to deal with whatever happens on Earth than it would be to bootstrap another planet.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975993)

I still say it's easier to deal with whatever happens on Earth than it would be to bootstrap another planet.


If enough people are willing to do that prior to either 'shit happening' or total resource consumption, then great. I hope you realize this is a very dubious notion, at best.

We need a plan B in place.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18976115)

Plan B can either be riding out the storm or jumping ship. Both require prior work. Option A is, in my opinion, much more practical.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18976293)

Plan B can either be riding out the storm or jumping ship. Both require prior work. Option A is, in my opinion, much more practical.


Yeah, but if we can do both, why not? Its going to take enormous amounts of social reforms to get everyone cooperating globally in order for plan A to work. That's going to take quite a bit of time. We may need to first eliminate money before companies stop futher evidencing the need for plan B.

We may as well be looking. In fact I think its rather foolish not to be looking, given the circumstances while keeping in mind probability and the chaos 'shit happens' factor.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983561)

The only way we could be considered parasites is if we consider the Earth to be a living organism. Since the Earth does not reproduce, metabolize, grow, or do any of the other things we consider to be basic functions of life, it's hard to buy that definition. We may exploit the resources at our disposal, but that is not the definition of parasitic behavior. Any life, left unchecked, would eventually use up all of the resources available to it, and in the process, create an environment unsuitable for its own survival. Fortunately, we have the benefit of consciousness and foresight, things which viruses do not possess, and may yet avoid causing our own extinction.

Re:A new earth for us (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975765)

But the question is typically about things we don't do that are difficult to fix as we've never experienced said problems before(massive impact, global nuclear war, etc...) Besides, never hurts to hedge the bet.

Re:A new earth for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18976139)

If you live on two planets, and one of those planets has an all out nuclear war that kills everybody... you at least have the people on the 2nd planet.

It is worse threats than pollution or global warming that you are being saved from.

And of course, the further apart the 2 planets are from each other, the better.

Re:A new earth for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18986347)

over my dead carc-ass!

how shallow does it get? (2, Funny)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18974953)

Could we push off a meter of dust and get to the ice to build a skating rink? The pioneers will need something to do for fun once the colonies begin.

Re:how shallow does it get? (2, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975275)

"pioneers will need something to do for fun once the colonies begin."

I'm sure they will do the same thing settlers did in every colonozation waze in human history.

Fucking. Lots and lots of baby making.

Sign me up.

Re:how shallow does it get? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18978169)

Waze? How did you typo that? That's like three keys away!

  Oh, I get it. Waze. You call it Coru.

Re:how shallow does it get? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18978699)

3 keys? v is right beside z on dvorak keyboards.

Uses for finely ground ice (3, Funny)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975661)

If we've colonized the place, then we'll have the capability of generating ethanol. Combining that with Martian ice should let you make margaritas, or at least dacquiris, which should take care of what you need...

Re:Uses for finely ground ice (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18978465)

Not to mention solving NASA's "romance/sex on long space journeys" problem.

Article Reprint (0)

ddimas (629883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975029)

Just in case, here is TFA.



BTW First Post



Scientists in the US say that initial data from a new way of scanning Mars has shown up to half of the Red Planet's surface may contain ice.

The new method of scanning for water offers vastly more accurate readings than before, they say.

The data could prove vital for the Phoenix Mars Mission which launches this August and which will put a lander on the surface to dig for ice.

The new data shows wide variation as to how deep below the surface ice exists.

Seasonal changes

The deposits - far beyond the ice that is known to exist in the planet's North Pole - could be so large that were they to melt, they would deluge the planet in water forming an ocean.

Up until now, scientists had been able to search for water deposits using a spectrometer fixed to the orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

It is a device that measures gamma rays coming from a planet to detect different materials.

However, only readings that are accurate to within several hundred kilometres can be obtained.

Now Dr Joshua Bandfield of Arizona State University has devised a new method for detecting ice.

By comparing seasonal changes in thermal infrared patterns, detected by the same Odyssey spacecraft, he says he can make readings accurate to within just hundreds of metres.

Dr Bandfield said water ice in terms of surface area would be "probably roughly a third to a half".

Though there is plenty of water ice, the new thermal imaging data also shows that there is considerable variation across the planet in terms of how far down ice can be found.

Re:Article Reprint (1)

xerxesVII (707232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975199)

That was pretty thoughtful of you to copypasta the article. It's always a good idea- you never know when we might slashdot the BBC.

Well, duh! (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975133)

You need all that ice to create a breathable atmosphere [wikipedia.org] on Mars!

What will the other half take... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18975137)

...just a burger ? It's hot there you know, they need that ice. Don't be a dork and give them some ice !

Oh wait... I should rtfa ? I'll do that now...ermm...right...

Scientist has new way to find water! (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975213)

No news at 11.

Optimism much? (2, Funny)

rambag (961763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975467)

I say that the glass Mars is half empty of ice.

Too bad... (2, Funny)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975475)

Unfortunately, the other half has all the beer.

Re:Too bad... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18978757)

Blech. I'm sure even Martians don't put ice in their beer.

My god, it's full of ice! (5, Funny)

rubberbandball (1076739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18975749)

Coming summer 20(xx): D4: Ducks on Mars. Emilio Estevez, amazingly still alive; reprises his role as coach of the district 5 hockey team. Even more amazing, no one on the team has aged and they are all in peak physical condition since the last film in the series. Also, the old man who runs the store is alive. The team travels to Mars to compete against some nation who is vastly better in at hockey in every way than the USA in the first Interplanetary-No-One-Cares-About-Hockey Tournament. Along the way, they find out the true meaning of friendship and family; and much to the dismay of NASA, the girl who plays the other goalie in the 2nd and 3rd movies has sex with everyone on board except Goldberg. I for one, cannot wait.

use existing robots (1)

jcgam69 (994690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18977691)

Since the water is so widespread and the mapping is accurate, why not send the existing robots spirit and/or opportunity to investigate this evidence?

Mars definitely has ice... (1)

Nozsd (1080965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18977853)

All you have to do is activate the reactor to melt it to release all the oxygen. Watch out for Benny, he's not who he seems.

Mars needs... (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981575)

Gin.

Re:Mars needs... (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18992193)

I have gin..

Mars is not, nor will it ever be, the new Earth (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981705)

It doesn't matter how much ice is present on Mars. The planet lacks a sufficient mass for holding an Earth-like atmosphere. You can terra-form all you want, pump loads of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen into that atmosphere... it's just going to be lost on the solar wind.

Sure, we could probably get a little in-door civilization going there. Just don't plan on going for a walk around Victoria crater.

Re:Mars is not, nor will it ever be, the new Earth (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982933)

Meh, people spent plenty of time living in caves and tunnels during the last ice age. Why not on Mars?

Re:Mars is not, nor will it ever be, the new Earth (1)

The Wicked Priest (632846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984065)

You could spend a few centuries building up an atmosphere that's good for, say, a few hundred thousand years -- nothing in planetary time, but a long time in human terms. Repeat as desired. It can be habitable for as long as we want it to, as long as we maintain it.

Not that it's necessarily the best use of our resources.

Re:Mars is not, nor will it ever be, the new Earth (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18987861)

The planet lacks a sufficient mass for holding an Earth-like atmosphere.



Actually, lack of a magnetic field similar in strength to Earths is also a big issue.



You can terra-form all you want, pump loads of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen into that atmosphere... it's just going to be lost on the solar wind.



This is a veeeeeery slow process, though. It would take a couple of million years (really, that's nothing on a planetary timescale) for an atmosphere similar to Earths on Mars to get blown away into space.


Who knows. Maybe one day we can drill a hole from pole to pole on Mars and stick a big frickin' magnet through there. That should keep the solar wind out.

Maybe we might even be able to hit it with a couple of Nickel-Iron meteorites to increase its mass.

..and the other half has fire (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 7 years ago | (#18981999)

It's just a new advertising campaign for that Will Ferrell, John Heder ice skating movie.

Scientists have also discovered (2, Funny)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982393)

A large console underneath the surface of mars, with a funny looking handprint.

When discussing with chief scientist/agent Douglas Quaid, he commented "Two weeeeks". Then he put his hand on the console, melted the ice, got blown outside and his face puffed up and burst.

True story.

Even worse than Australia! (1)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982583)

Half of Mars May Have Ice

Wow, and to think that they say we have an ice [wikipedia.org] problem here! ;)
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