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NASA Images Suggest Water Still Flows on Mars
Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Dec 7 2006, 12:57 AM
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Emily now has a story online at TPS.

EDIT: As well as a blog entry.

This post has been edited by AlexBlackwell: Dec 7 2006, 01:10 AM
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jamescanvin
post Dec 7 2006, 01:00 AM
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QUOTE (exoplanet @ Dec 7 2006, 11:33 AM) *
I hope that Steve Squires has at least noted recently that extremely acidic environments on earth are not barren of life but do support strong colonies of microorganisms. What this means on Mars should not preclude that life does not exist. To the contrary with regards to the recent images and future images to come:)


Have you watched/listened to SS talk at the OU? In the Q'n'A, when asked about the prospects of life he mentions that although life can survive well on earth in extremely acidic environments it is not clear that it can come into being in one. On earth, the microorganisms formed in a more benign environment and *then* evolved into being able to tolerate the harsh conditions.


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exoplanet
post Dec 7 2006, 02:24 AM
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QUOTE (jamescanvin @ Dec 7 2006, 01:00 AM) *
Have you watched/listened to SS talk at the OU? "On earth, the microorganisms formed in a more benign environment and *then* evolved into being able to tolerate the harsh conditions."


The warm little pond theory may well be proven false in the near future. It has only been a theory that has to my knowledge "not" been proven. This basic article shows some of the current dissent among "the experts" about the origin of life:

http://www.economist.com/science/displayst...tory_id=5518892

The last two paragraphs are noteworthy. Regardless, whether life started on Earth in an acidic/basic hydrothermal spring, at the bottom of an early ocean in a hydrothermal vent, from a meterorite - the panspermia theory, or in a "warm little pond". The fact is we don't know. And we still don't know that much about Mars to make generalizations about whether or not if there was water on Mars - it was too acidic to inhibit the start of life there.
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tfisher
post Dec 7 2006, 02:30 AM
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This is really exciting. Oh, to have a rover there! Maybe MSL will manage to be in a gully-prone area to get an up close look at these things. Until we get a ground truth look at these flows, there will always be doubts on water vs. CO2 vs. dust. But it is really looking more and more like water, which is so much more than just plain interesting. Wow.
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jamescanvin
post Dec 7 2006, 02:50 AM
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QUOTE (exoplanet @ Dec 7 2006, 01:24 PM) *
The warm little pond theory may well be proven false in the near future. It has only been a theory that has to my knowledge "not" been proven.


Quite right I'm sure, I'm no expert on this.

All I was really trying to point out is that Steve Squyres has commented recently on this issue as you "hoped" and that that was (I think, I haven't had the chance to watch it again) his take on the matter.


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SteveM
post Dec 7 2006, 02:51 AM
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QUOTE (exoplanet @ Dec 6 2006, 09:24 PM) *
The warm little pond theory may well be proven false in the near future. It has only been a theory that has to my knowledge "not" been proven. This basic article shows some of the current dissent among "the experts" about the origin of life:

http://www.economist.com/science/displayst...tory_id=5518892

The last two paragraphs are noteworthy. Regardless, whether life started on Earth in an acidic/basic hydrothermal spring, at the bottom of an early ocean in a hydrothermal vent, from a meterorite - the panspermia theory, or in a "warm little pond". The fact is we don't know. And we still don't know that much about Mars to make generalizations about whether or not if there was water on Mars - it was too acidic to inhibit the start of life there.

As I read the Economist article, the point at issue there is hot or cold, not acidic or basic.

SS's comment, as I remember it, centered on the acidic environment. He suggested that while primitive life could develop in a neutral environment and then evolve a way to maintain an internal neutral state in acidic surroundings, this was not likely to happen from scratch in an acidic environment.

BTW Jim, do you happen to have a transcription of SS's OU talk? All I have is the audio file and I'd like to be able to search for the passages in question. (Even this Q & A would help).

Steve
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CosmicRocker
post Dec 7 2006, 05:23 AM
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QUOTE (volcanopele @ Dec 6 2006, 02:48 PM) *
I'm not tuvas. I'm not a vulcan, either, I'm an Ionian, and red-hot, ultramafic lava flows through my veins... My reaction was that this news was interesting and that I wanted to see those features in HiRISE images. But, no, I didn't get all that excited. Maybe it is my outer planets bias, but flowing, boiling acidic water just isn't as exciting as huge lava flows on Io, the Earth-like geology of Titan, the geysers of Triton, or I dare say, the ocean on Europa.

EDIT: I forgot Enceladus' geysers, how silly of me ohmy.gif
Is there anyone here who will help me drag this poor, misguided individual behind the barn, where he can be taught a little bit of inner planet respect? laugh.gif
QUOTE (exoplanet @ Dec 6 2006, 08:24 PM) *
The warm little pond theory may well be proven false in the near future. It has only been a theory that has to my knowledge "not" been proven. ...
There is so much we probably don't know about life's origins. I figure, if there is hope for water, there is hope for life...

It wasn't so long ago that we all would have been jumping up and down about the discovery of any observed, recent change on Mars. I agree that these locations need to be be monitored with our newest orbiting instruments for verification, but hey, this is exciting news being released to commemorate the memory of a ten year veteran who has been lost in battle.

Let us all bow our heads in respect for a fallen comrade in arms.


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climber
post Dec 7 2006, 08:23 AM
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QUOTE (CosmicRocker @ Dec 7 2006, 06:23 AM) *
There is so much we probably don't know about life's origins. I figure, if there is hope for water, there is hope for life...


You know, what give me real hope is that, let say, 20 years ago, life on Earth and water on Mars were understood a way that as been totaly changed nowaday. There IS life in extreme on Earth, there IS water on Mars today. I'll not related these two facts, I understand there could even be some politics behind this, BUT I feel that we are moving in the direction of "possible" life on Mars NOW. This has the BIG advantage to shake the people that decide the direction of future Exploration programs and, yes, as tsfisher say, they'll may be direct MSL in a place where gullies will be reachable. In my opinion, this is good new because this is one of the goal of exploring Mars and who imagined 3 years ago, before Oppy proved that Meridianii once see water, before MGS found active gullies that we could be talking now of landing a rover in a "waterworld"?


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AndyG
post Dec 7 2006, 11:43 AM
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A question!

What's a likely figure for the viscosity of this water? I don't think I've ever seen viscosity estimates produced for (transient) liquid water in a Mars environment. Is it high (because the water's cold) or low (because it's near-boiling)?

huh.gif

Andy
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ustrax
post Dec 7 2006, 12:24 PM
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What triggers my imagination in this great discovery is not the gullies...
Is the place where they we're originated...
Beneath...What can hide beneath? smile.gif

I'll just join the choir...What great days we are living! biggrin.gif


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ustrax
post Dec 7 2006, 01:58 PM
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If the water excavates the gullies deplacing the darker material underneath where are the vestiges of that material?
Mixed with the lighter one? huh.gif


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Stu
post Dec 7 2006, 02:30 PM
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QUOTE (ustrax @ Dec 7 2006, 01:58 PM) *
where are the vestiges of that material?


If you look at the ends of some of the gullies there are fan-shaped deposits of material and sediment that has come down the gully and then been spread out across the lower ground...


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ngunn
post Dec 7 2006, 02:37 PM
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QUOTE (ustrax @ Dec 7 2006, 01:58 PM) *
If the water excavates the gullies deplacing the darker material underneath where are the vestiges of that material?
Mixed with the lighter one? huh.gif


I assume it's being proposed that as the wet avalanches dry out the deposited materials become encrusted with light coloured salts.
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babakm
post Dec 7 2006, 02:39 PM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Dec 6 2006, 09:16 PM) *


I think this one is very interesting since it seems like the terrain where the gully formed is relatively flat. This tells me:

a. The flow was likely relatively persistent (i.e., probably not a short explosive burst)

b. Both the source and the gully look eminently roveable!
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ustrax
post Dec 7 2006, 03:00 PM
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Looking through this image there are some lighter layers being disrupted by the mouvement (in blue).
Can they influence in the colour of the material deposited at the end of the flow?...
If you look there's a first stage where the rush excavates but then, finding one of this layers (a), maybe because it's force has lost strenght, is no longer capable of "breaking" it and it jumps over, running now only over the surface...Then this second stage white flow looks like is loosening power again untill finds another bright layer ( B ) and it ceases a short after this and there's no other under...

Original image


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