NASA to Announce Mars Mystery Solved: Liquid water today!

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Not the present curiosity rover, but the next one and also the ESA one could be better equipped to do this kind of investigation.
As far as I know both projects are definitely work in progress with an actual budget.
 
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But rovers aren't able to do the tests needed to discriminate. You'd need another three hundred million dollar mission and another ten years to make a rover with that sophisticated a lab.
Plus, unwanted interactions between Earth microbes and Martian microbes might lead to the extinction of Martian microbes ?
 
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DaveC426913
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Not the present curiosity rover, but the next one and also the ESA one could be better equipped to do this kind of investigation.
Imagine an archaeologist saying to his students "Don't worry about stomping all through this dig site of the greatest Neanderthal city ever discovered. We'll be able to reverse engineer the imprints of Neanderthal moccasins from under your sneaker prints. And those KFC chicken bones you're tossing around won't take too long to separate from these priceless bones in the dig with these powerful microscopes and a few months of time. After all, we have unlimited time and budget and resources - because we planned all this ahead of time and we left all the rest of our equipment 50 million miles away. Why, I imagine, after a year of sorting out your pollution, we'll be ready to do some new science." :wink:
 
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But rovers aren't able to do the tests needed to discriminate. You'd need another three hundred million dollar mission and another ten years to make a rover with that sophisticated a lab.
I'm not holding out for any rover to do this job, no matter how sophisticated. I think any serious investigation of Martian life is going to require human "boots on the ground." Again, I try to follow the manned mission to Mars community as closely as I can, and the writing on the wall is that we are probably looking at 2032-33 for the first human Mars landing. Something about the planetary orbits during that time is beneficial. So that's my guess. Any time before that is too soon. Despite people like Robert Zubrin equating a Mars landing to the moon mission, it is waaay more complicated than that. Any time after 2033 is going to lose a momentum we seem to have right now. I think the news conference today just ups the ante on that date, which is a good thing :oldsmile:.

As far as the rovers, they were talking up a good game on the Mars 2020 deal with the sample return but I don't have high hopes for that solving the "life" mystery. It would just be too small and isolated a sample to really mean anything. That is, unless it does yield some microbial life, in which case we could be sure that life is rampant about the planet. But I doubt that's what it'll find.
 
DaveC426913
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I'm not holding out for any rover to do this job, no matter how sophisticated.
The overriding point here is that we can count on a probe to do the job.
The job is: detect life on Mars.
If we've done a proper job of avoiding contamination, we can detect life and do some basic analysis.
It is going to be muuuch harder to detect life buuuuut sort out Earth life from Martian life.
 
Maylis
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Wouldn't microbes on the space craft either die from lack of oxygen if they are aerobic, or just from the extreme cold temperature in space?

Also, what if earth life is actually Martian in origin? Then I don't know if we would detect the difference from microbes on the craft vs Martian bacteria because they would both be based on DNA.
 
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Some bacteria are extremely hardy to adverse conditions and go into a sort of suspended animation state where internal chemistry of any kind is minimal until conditions improve.
They can last a very long time in that state.
 
DaveC426913
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Wouldn't microbes on the space craft either die from lack of oxygen if they are aerobic, or just from the extreme cold temperature in space?
The problem they've been facing all along is that microbes can be extremely resilient, surviving even in space.


Also, what if earth life is actually Martian in origin? Then I don't know if we would detect the difference from microbes on the craft vs Martian bacteria because they would both be based on DNA.
Exactly.
 
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Also, what if earth life is actually Martian in origin?
If some ancient martian bacteria had been blasted into space, probably as a result of an impacting meteor, and eventually arrived on Earth...
(A very big IF of which there is no hard evidence, but it's physically possible).
It is likely that we would eventually find these had also arrived on other bodies even if they didn't survive and procreate in the long term.
The Martian moons and asteroids close to Mars would be most likely, considerably more likely than the one or two that could have made it to the much more distant Earth.
 
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I'm not shocked there's flowing water, just that it's at the surface. That's awesome nonetheless.
 
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Also, what if earth life is actually Martian in origin? Then I don't know if we would detect the difference from microbes on the craft vs Martian bacteria because they would both be based on DNA.
Life on Earth today had 4 billion years of evolution - it looks significantly different from life back then. Could be invisible to a microscope, but DNA sequencing (if they have DNA at all - could still be based on RNA or something new that evolved on Mars) would reveal the difference.

2032/2033 looks optimisic, it would mean serious project planning would have to start now.
 
Bystander
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"In http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2546.html, scientists identified waterlogged molecules — salts of a type known as perchlorates (my emphasis)— on the surface in readings from orbit.

“That’s a direct detection of water in the form of hydration of salts,” said Alfred S. McEwen, a professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona, the principal investigator of images from a high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and one of the authors of the new paper. “There pretty much has to have been liquid water recently present to produce the hydrated salt.”

This is a "bit of a leap." Do not be surprised at refutation and retraction.
 
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That's the title of the NASA press release (I added the date).
8 a.m. PDT = 3 p.m. UCT = 5 p.m. CEST (Central European Summer Time)

The panel includes an expert for the HiRISE experiment, a high-resolution telescope in Mars orbit. Whatever they have, apparently images of some area are highly relevant.

One of the panel members is Lujendra Ojha, a PhD candidate. If they include him, it is very likely the discovery is directly connected to his work. According to his website:Those structures are visible to HiRISE. Variations from year to year are not new. Did they see something in action?

Mary Beth Wilhelm is an organic biogeochemist (research interests).

How to combine organic biogeochemistry with Recurring Slope Lineae?

I'll update this post when I know more.
We waited for this to happen for so long!!!
Every astrophysicist's dream has come true, we might actually find extraterrestrial life in our own solar system!!!
 
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Steady on, this just tells us of good places to look.
There has been nothing detected which is a positive indicator of presently active biochemistry.
We are already fairly certain of there having been quite substantial amounts of surface water in the past, and some of that water would have been a more likely origin of any life (just my opinion of course), than in these chlorine rich slush flows that have been discovered .
I'm prepared for the unexpected though, given the conditions that some extremophiles live in on Earth.
 
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Also, what if earth life is actually Martian in origin?
This is another big reason for sending humans to Mars (soon) to sort this out. One of the principle "Earth" life mysteries is what happened to intermediate stages of the evolution of life from inanimate matter to the first prokaryotic cells, which are extremely complex in their function. One theory was that life originated on Mars and that a "panspermia" event there knocked out some already highly evolved prokaryotes that were seeded on Earth a few billion years ago. According to that theory, what we might find on Mars is evidence of those intermediate stages of cellular evolution. I don't personally think that this is what happened, but it is possible. And that's the point, there is so much to learn and rule out or rule in. The presence of liquid water on the surface is simply begging for a thorough analysis. The possibly of finding something unexpected and significant is tantalizingly high.

2032/2033 looks optimisic, it would mean serious project planning would have to start now.
Agreed!
 
russ_watters
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Yes. It's NASA Policy Directive 8020 and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

There are factions, both within NASA and outside of NASA, who say that Mars is off-limits to humans if we find life on Mars. Some of the proponents of this POV are rather influential. This finding will give those factions an even larger voice. That voice will become very large if incontrovertible evidence of life on Mars is found, even if its only extremely primitive life.
Thanks for the info (and others as well). Not sure how I feel about that (generally negative, but need to put more thought into it), but don't really want to get into it now. Maybe a topic for another thread.
 
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2032/2033 looks optimisic, it would mean serious project planning would have to start now.
If you mean the manned Mars mission; the general idea is manned flyby by 2033 and landing by 2037; after the completely unnecessary asteroid re-direct in 2025; there are factions trying to replace asteroid re-direct with a Mars and Venus flyby mission in 2025 which would push forward the Mars landing by a few years.
 
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If you mean the manned Mars mission; the general idea is manned flyby by 2033 and landing by 2037; after the completely unnecessary asteroid re-direct in 2025; there are factions trying to replace asteroid re-direct with a Mars and Venus flyby mission in 2025 which would push forward the Mars landing by a few years.
Do we need a manned mission to do this job ? Why can't we send a well sterilised rover better equipped than the current ones to go and do the job?
 
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Do we need a manned mission to do this job ? Why can't we send a well sterilised rover better equipped than the current ones to go and do the job?
I wasn't referring to any one specific job, just the general plan of the manned program; but humans are better equipped to find life on Mars than robots are. If fossils exist on Mars, Curiosity and the 2020 rover and such like are more than likely to gloss over them; though a sterilized rover would probably do just fine with something like flowing water, but even then careful human hands would be preferable.
 
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Steady on, this just tells us of good places to look.
There has been nothing detected which is a positive indicator of presently active biochemistry.
We are already fairly certain of there having been quite substantial amounts of surface water in the past, and some of that water would have been a more likely origin of any life (just my opinion of course), than in these chlorine rich slush flows that have been discovered .
I'm prepared for the unexpected though, given the conditions that some extremophiles live in on Earth.
Is water always an origin of any life ?
 
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Is water always an origin of any life ?
We don't know, but on Earth they are closely linked.
It is really hard to find places on Earth with liquid water but without life. Don Juan pond was mentioned in the linked news article, but even that is a bit more complicated.

If you mean the manned Mars mission; the general idea is manned flyby by 2033 and landing by 2037; after the completely unnecessary asteroid re-direct in 2025; there are factions trying to replace asteroid re-direct with a Mars and Venus flyby mission in 2025 which would push forward the Mars landing by a few years.
That sounds very optimistic. This article estimates 2030 for the first flight of the fully upgraded space launch system - and you probably don't want to fly to another planet with the maiden flight of a rocket, 5 years of backwards time travel not included.
SpaceX could be faster, but it is questionable if NASA will use this and abandon the SLS.
 
Baluncore
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Now Coke Cola can build a bottling plant there, and they don't even have to paint the background red.
Imagine the marketing possibilities for a carbonic acid rich, still mineral water.

Does the presence of acidic water preclude shellfish, exoskeletons and animal bones like we see on Earth?
 
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We don't know, but on Earth they are closely linked.
It is really hard to find places on Earth with liquid water but without life. Don Juan pond was mentioned in the linked news article, but even that is a bit more complicated.

That sounds very optimistic. This article estimates 2030 for the first flight of the fully upgraded space launch system - and you probably don't want to fly to another planet with the maiden flight of a rocket, 5 years of backwards time travel not included.
SpaceX could be faster, but it is questionable if NASA will use this and abandon the SLS.
I knew it was delayed but that's the first I've heard of the launch system being pushed back that far; asteroid re-direct is tentatively scheduled for mid 2020's and they'll need SLS and Orion for that.
 
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We don't know, but on Earth they are closely linked.
It is really hard to find places on Earth with liquid water but without life. Don Juan pond was mentioned in the linked news article, but even that is a bit more complicated.

That sounds very optimistic. This article estimates 2030 for the first flight of the fully upgraded space launch system - and you probably don't want to fly to another planet with the maiden flight of a rocket, 5 years of backwards time travel not included.
SpaceX could be faster, but it is questionable if NASA will use this and abandon the SLS.
mfb , thank you for an article
I am certain that scientists were scientifically aware of differences of Earth's and Martian's atmosphere
 
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I knew it was delayed but that's the first I've heard of the launch system being pushed back that far; asteroid re-direct is tentatively scheduled for mid 2020's and they'll need SLS and Orion for that.
There are different stages with increasing payload. A mission to Mars needs much more payload than a mission to L1 or L2.
mfb , thank you for an article
I am certain that scientists were scientifically aware of differences of Earth's and Martian's atmosphere
I don't doubt what the scientists are aware of, I questioned the quality of the news article as at least one statement there is way too strong given the quoted reference I found so quickly.
 

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