Sunday, June 10, 2007





Mars rover finds "puddles" on the planet's surface

A new analysis of pictures taken by the exploration rover Opportunity reveals what appear to be small ponds of liquid water on the surface of Mars.

The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planet's thin atmosphere.

If confirmed, the existence of such ponds would significantly boost the odds that living organisms could survive on or near the surface of Mars, says physicist Ron Levin, the report's lead author, who works in advanced image processing at the aerospace company Lockheed Martin in Arizona.


This is big. Nevertheless, anyone with an eye toward the anomalous probably saw this one coming at least a few years ago. While the claim will be refuted by some, I predict it will win out in the end.

There's liquid water on Mars -- not just short-lived subsurface "leaks," but almost certainly standing puddles of the stuff. The solar system just keeps getting more interesting.

10 comments:

John said...

Now if they'd just do some closeups of a few of those artifacts lying around....

Mac said...

I'm not sold on any of the alleged artifacts supposedly photographed by the rovers. That's not to say they're not there; there are some that are vaguely suggestive of engineering, but nothing that screams "unexplained."

But this water discovery -- if water it is -- is a great step in the right direction.

Paul Kimball said...

The real "step" in the right direction is fast-tracking a manned mission to Mars. That's one of the few things George Bush has gotten right.

Mac said...

But I have to wonder: given the economic and military imperatives for returning to the moon (it's not like China's making any secret of its ambitions), what president *wouldn't* approve something like the Moon-Mars Initiative? But I'm not complaining.

Anonymous said...

Wow, give them a freakin medal. This disclosure curve is killing me. I mean with all the stupidity in the world right now they have a moral obligation to shake things up. There are literally hundreds of examples of areas on Mars which seem to contain large swaths of standing liquid. More interestingly a number of ESA photos appear to show active vegetation in techno-color green to boot ;) The anomalist crowd has blown this trumpet for years.

The really sad thing is that this is all playing out just as we'd predicted. Slowly, painfully and in full on "wow look what we found first" fashion. Makes all those arguments I had at Bad Astronomy years ago all the more aggravating. They called us quacks back then for saying there was clear evidence for liquid water on Mars but now with the fog of time on their side they'll herald themselves as grand discoverers and visionaries. It's all very scientific now you see ;)

John said...

They called us quacks back then for saying there was clear evidence for liquid water on Mars but now with the fog of time on their side they'll herald themselves as grand discoverers and visionaries.

The same holds true for the artifacts :-)

The real "step" in the right direction is fast-tracking a manned mission to Mars. That's one of the few things George Bush has gotten right.

I agree, Paul. I would just modify that last statement to read "the only thing." And then I think it was probably because Bush really doesn't give much of a shit about space or NASA, so somebody in the know actually managed to slip a competent space policy and NASA Director past him in a weak moment.

--WMB as my real name

Paul Kimball said...

WMB:

Who knows, but it's more than Clinton did, or Bush senior, so I'll give credit where it's due. Besides, in two hundred years, who knows - maybe Bush will be remembered as the President who had the vision to put us back on the path to space, long after the Iraq mess is a footnote in the history books - yes, I know it seems like big news now, and it is, but ask the British - these "colonial" wars come and go, and get forgotten eventually. Small comfort in the here and now, but all part of the broad sweep of history.

Paul

Anonymous said...

maybe Bush will be remembered as the President who had the vision to put us back on the path to space, long after the Iraq mess is a footnote in the history books

Paul -- It's odd but I've had exactly the same (though somewhat appalling to me, I'll admit!) thought. I can certainly envision a thoroughly colonized Solar System (think Clarke's Imperial Earth) where historians credit and celebrate George W. Bush for the Great Migration Outwards that finally removed the human species from the threat of one-planet extinction and expanded our horizons to include the universe. (Yikes!)

--WMB as Anon

Anonymous said...

I am not for a manned mission to Mars until we can better overcome this gravity thing. We can send 50 rovers to different parts of Mars with better equipment than Oppy and Spirit for less money than a human mission. We can get more bang for the buck with robots.
When we overcome gravity, and can leave the Earths orbit with little energy exertion, and get to Mars quickly it will be time for humans to go out in space in a big time way.

Stan

Anonymous said...

The Bush Mars connection if anything will be considered an odd quirk in history. A vague promise and an attempt to mimic the vision of great leaders of the past in order to shade a nearly absolute corrupt administration.

The mess in Iraq, corporatism, social intolerance, domestic spying and a devastatingly irresponsible environmental policy will cast a lovely stench over Georgies "legacy". There are too many negatives for history to simply omit them all out of hand.