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Old 09-27-2013, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,825 posts, read 20,496,555 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
Yeah, I found the statement a bit overblown as well, more wishful thinking than anything. I agree, it's pretty embarrassing. You can't assume that any findings in Gale Crater is necessarily representitive of the entire planet. Still, if Curiosity did detect a significant amount available in Gale Crater, which is possible, that'd be a wow moment in my book. But there'd still be a lot more to confirm the data.

Historical
Looking back at Spirit and Opportunity rovers, they found the surface areas virtually bone dry, albeit an extremely miniscule sampling of the Martian surface. The exception being the discovery of Martian "blueberries" (hemetite) which indicates the likelihood that acidic water existed on the surface, perhaps as shallow oceans, probably present in Mars' past.
Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Press Releases

Other Findings
On the other hand, the Phoenix lander appeared to have uncovered some possible chunks of water ice that sublimated in a short time. One or two craters on Mars have shown what might be pools of ice. And ESA's Mars Express orbiter appears to have mapped the planet showing that water or water ice could be below the surface over a sizable chunk of the planet as well as at the poles.
Water ice in crater at Martian north pole / Mars Express / Space Science / Our Activities / ESA
Large Amounts of Water Ice Found Underground on Mars

Possible Seasonal Eruptions in Some Craters
Then lastly, photographic evidence of some craters seem to show what look like dark streaks in gullys that seasonally appear and disappear which might be the result of underground water bursting out from the crater walls. If there's any chance that might be true, then Curiosity's findings might be plausible, at least within Gale Crater. Curiosity had also discovered rock formations (streambeds) indicating evidence of vigorous flow of water over significant periods of time required to shape and smooth pebbles and stones.
NASA Spacecraft Data Suggest Water Flowing on Mars - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Time Will Tell at Mt. Sharp
There's plenty of indirect evidence for water on Mars, in its past and possibly even now. The real clincher would be to directly show that it's still present today, even in small amounts. i'd really like to see a closer inspection of the walls of Gale Crater. Unfortunately, Curiosity is headed for Mt. Sharp. However, evidence indicating flowing water in the past near Mt. Sharp, might turn up something.

Liquid Gold and Manned Missions in the Future
If water or water ice isn't found to be reasonably accessible on Mars, that's going to complicate any future long-term manned missions to the Red Planet. It would mean a lot of water would have to be sent from Earth to Mars for such missions which would be pretty costly to do even as a joint international venture. In my opinion, it will be vital to resolve the water question once and for all either by Curiosity or a future rover before even thinking about sending people there. It's there. The questions are where to dig, how much can be extracted, and how easy would it be to get to it. I think we'll need to continue sending more specialized bots to do that kind of grunt work.
Mars - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I have absolutely no doubt that there is water on Mars. We have known that for years. One of the reasons Gale Crater was chosen was because radar showed a high probability of water just beneath the surface. There is also a lot of surface evidence that water once existed on the surface of Mars, but that has not been the case for millions, possibly billions, of years. There still remains a very good possibility of water ice just a few meters beneath the surface in several locations around Mars.

It very well may be that in certain areas within Gale Crater the percentage of water by weight may be as high as 2%, as the article claims. However, I certainly would not extend that claim to encompass the entire planet. It would be like a probe landing in one of the oceans on Earth, and claiming the entire planet must be covered by oceans. Or a probe landing in Death Valley and then claiming the entire planet must be a desert world. How any so-called "scientist" could make such wild and unfounded claim is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Whether there is enough water ice on Mars to support a manned-mission to Mars has yet to be determined, but it would not surprise me if there was. By "enough" I mean enough to use for oxygen to breathe, liquid water to drink and cook with, fuel for power generation, shielding from solar and cosmic rays, in addition to growing crops. If they only have to take enough water to get to Mars, and can resupply that water resource once they are on Mars, it will make the journey more affordable.

As you say, what we need are some specialized robots capable of drilling for, collecting, separating, and storing, water before we send a manned-mission to Mars. That will help us determine how many resources we need to send to Mars. The more resources we can collect from Mars itself, the more a manned-mission to Mars becomes viable.

We also need a fairly large sample of Martian water to sample for organisms, which may still be present on Mars. It may turn out that Martian water is fine for use as oxygen and hydrogen, but not for consumption or growing crops. We have had the advantage of evolving with the organisms on Earth for billions of years, but Martian evolution will be completely alien to us. If there are microscopic organisms in Martian water they may be similar to the organisms found in Earth water, or they may not. Or Martian water may not have any organisms, but still be unusable for consumption because of its high saline or acidic content.

There are still a great many unknowns about the water on Mars, but one thing that is known is that there is water on Mars.

Last edited by Glitch; 09-27-2013 at 12:40 PM..
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:06 PM
 
5,203 posts, read 8,205,785 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glitch View Post
I have absolutely no doubt that there is water on Mars. We have known that for years. One of the reasons Gale Crater was chosen was because radar showed a high probability of water just beneath the surface. There is also a lot of surface evidence that water once existed on the surface of Mars, but that has not been the case for millions, possibly billions, of years. There still remains a very good possibility of water ice just a few meters beneath the surface in several locations around Mars.

It very well may be that in certain areas within Gale Crater the percentage of water by weight may be as high as 2%, as the article claims. However, I certainly would not extend that claim to encompass the entire planet. It would be like a probe landing in one of the oceans on Earth, and claiming the entire planet must be covered by oceans. Or a probe landing in Death Valley and then claiming the entire planet must be a desert world. How any so-called "scientist" could make such wild and unfounded claim is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Whether there is enough water ice on Mars to support a manned-mission to Mars has yet to be determined, but it would not surprise me if there was. By "enough" I mean enough to use for oxygen to breathe, liquid water to drink and cook with, fuel for power generation, shielding from solar and cosmic rays, in addition to growing crops. If they only have to take enough water to get to Mars, and can resupply that water resource once they are on Mars, it will make the journey more affordable.

As you say, what we need are some specialized robots capable of drilling for, collecting, separating, and storing, water before we send a manned-mission to Mars. That will help us determine how many resources we need to send to Mars. The more resources we can collect from Mars itself, the more a manned-mission to Mars becomes viable.

We also need a fairly large sample of Martian water to sample for organisms, which may still be present on Mars. It may turn out that Martian water is fine for use as oxygen and hydrogen, but not for consumption or growing crops. We have had the advantage of evolving with the organisms on Earth for billions of years, but Martian evolution will be completely alien to us. If there are microscopic organisms in Martian water they may be similar to the organisms found in Earth water, or they may not. Or Martian water may not have any organisms, but still be unusable for consumption because of its high saline or acidic content.

There are still a great many unknowns about the water on Mars, but one thing that is known is that there is water on Mars.
HAHAHA! I don't know what the point was either in making the statement which implies that water is probably everywhere and easily available over the entire planet, which was why I posted the quote. At a guess, the comment was a brainf*rt moment - commenting without thinking it through. Maybe not the best spokesperson for information.

My views are right in line with yours, that there's far too much yet to determine before presuming how available it might be.

The sample soil was analyzed by SAM (Sample Analysis of Mars) instrument aboard the rover. The sample was scooped up and contained dust, dirt and finely grained soil from a sandy patch. What it found is that 2% of the soil (based on the sample) on the surface was water by weight. It's unclear how deep the dig was, but probably very shallow, perhaps one-inch or so. No idea what would be found by digging a foot or two deep. Essentially, it's water molecules found in the dust. It could be similar or it could be bone dry. In any case, we're still talking about the conditions at Gale Crater which is below surface level and from where the sample was taken. In that sense, it is kind of a 'wow moment'. Similar results might be found in some of the other deep craters on Mars. I think there is some indirect evidence that there is water elsewhere on Mars, but not necessarily just anywhere on Mars. We don't know.
Curiosity's SAM Instrument Finds Water and More in Surface Sample | NASA

NASA's Curiosity Finds Water Molecules on Mars | SciTech Daily


While water on Mars might not flowing on the surface today, it's possible water is present in the soil. For comparison, it was thought that the Moon was completely dry, but rock samples brought back showed the presence of water, more than had ever been expected. So it's not unthinkable that water may be present in the soil on the main surface of the planet. When Curiosity ultimately reaches some higher points on Mt. Sharp, I think another soil analysis would be worth doing. If the results are similar in any way, it could indicate that water could be elsewhere on the surface of the planet. Dust is widely blown and scattered around the planet, so it could be that dust particles containing water molecules could be scattered in that way. But again, we need more samples to know. It looks like Curiosity will remain in Gale Crater indefinitely, never to reach the surface above the crater. It'll take another rover for that. Hopefully NASA will choose a future site that's not so confined inside a crater. Maybe a vehicle containing a small swarm of small probes would be able to spread out and cover more territory.
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:50 PM
 
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A JPL animation look at the trail of where Curiosity's been and where it will be going on into 2014. The terrain looks like it's going to be a bit more rugged than we've seen so far. It's still going to be quite a while before it actually gets to where it'll start climbing Mt. Sharp.



Curiosity's Path to Mount Sharp - YouTube
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:44 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,825 posts, read 20,496,555 times
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Quote:
Curiosity Plays in Mars Sand, Ready for Dune 'Jump'

As Mars rover drivers plan a less aggressive drive to its next science target, Curiosity has been playing in the sand at the base of a dune. No, the one-ton robot isn’t getting bored, it’s testing out the composition of the material to see whether it is safe for its six wheels to climb.

Over the past few months, there has been increasing concern for the condition of Curiosity’s aluminum wheels; sharp Mars rocks have been denting, scratching and even puncturing the thin material. The front-left wheel even has a dramatic rip where the strip of aluminum has been torn away. This unexpected acceleration of wear and tear has prompted mission managers to actively seek out smoother alternative routes as Curiosity makes its epic drive toward Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) in the center of Gale Crater.

Source: Curiosity Plays in Mars Sand, Ready for Dune 'Jump' : Discovery News
The Curiosity Rover has certainly taken a beating.

Both the title of the article and the following tweet are a bit over the top considering top speed of the rover is 0.085 mph (0.137 kph).
If Curiosity gets its speed up, it could use this dune as a ramp. Curiosity would be the Steve McQueen of SCIENCE! pic.twitter.com/NxVVsZykHP — Dr. Ian O'Neill (@astroengine) January 30, 2014

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