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I Mars Ice Core Samples

  1. Apr 13, 2016 #1
    http://www.wired.com/2013/10/mars-polar-ice-sample-return-1977-1978/

    I found this old Wired article interesting. It makes me wonder, with all the cash that is thrown at Mars exploration these days, why an updated version of this has not been attempted? It would seem that analysis of a Martian ice core sample could yield some answers concerning past climate or even possible ancient microbial life. Ice cores have been good sources for information on Earth, so they should offer a fairly useful record of Mars' distant past.
    Given that technology is more advanced today than it was in 1978, the analysis might even be possible right there on Mars without the need for a return mission. Analyzing the core on Mars would certainly limit the possibility of contaminants from Earth.
    Why is it that the idea of studying Martian ice cores has seemingly been abandoned?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2016 #2

    1oldman2

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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  4. Apr 14, 2016 #3
    Thanks for the link. It looks like a very toned down version of what they planned back in 1978. It doesn't sound like they're taking a polar region sample, but I guess at least it's something after almost 40 years of waiting for an ice core sample mission. I was just surprised they hadn't attempted it, given NASA's motto of "follow the water" when looking for evidence of life on Mars. The polar region is water, sittin' right there on the surface just waiting to be sampled. I think an experiment like the one proposed in 1978 might yield more answers than what they've been doing lately. I guess we'll see what they get up to in that 2018 mission if it is successful.
     
  5. Apr 14, 2016 #4

    1oldman2

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    Glad you enjoyed the link, that is of course only one of many missions coming up in the near future. It seems these latest programs are what the earlier (70's etc.) have led up to and they are refining the search parameters for past or present lifeforms. Early in the mars exploration game NASA targeted the ice caps as a best bet plan for finding water and discovered what was expected to be frozen CO2 turned out to be a large percentage of H2O. Later on it was realized that "following the water" wasn't very difficult as there are signs of it everywhere. Here are a couple of relevant links you might find interesting, let me know your thoughts after you have time to read them.
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html
    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mars2020/
    By the way I would bet Exo-geology is going to be a booming field in the not too distant future. :smile:
     
  6. Apr 15, 2016 #5
    "By the way I would bet Exo-geology is going to be a booming field in the not too distant future."

    I hope so.
     
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