Why is NASA and curiosity still looking for water evidence?

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So I always see in the news that the curiosity rover or some nasa study of previous data discovered evidence of water like its actually news. Wasn't it shown a decade ago that there is conclusive evidence that lots of water existed on mars? I don't get why they're still spending so much time looking for water and doing analyses to confirm that water flowed on Mars. Its like spending time and money finding more evidence that gravity affects us. Can someone explain why nasa is wasting so much time and resources looking for more evidence of prehistoric water on mars? it makes no sense.
 

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  • #2
CWatters
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How much evidence is needed to constitute proof?
 
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How much evidence is needed to constitute proof?
there's an entire branch of philosophy devoted towards that question but the limestone deposits, the silicates, and the dried up rivers, deltas, canyons, etc are all conclusive enough in my submission.

I might ask you though how much evidence is needed to constitute proof for gravity? Or do we need over 9000 sigma proof to demonstrate the higgs boson exists? Sometimes its wasteful to look for more confirmation evidence on something that has been demonstrated already.
 
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Can someone explain why nasa is wasting so much time and resources looking for more evidence of prehistoric water on mars? it makes no sense.
Just to clarify what we are talking about: How much time and resources do they exclusively use for this purpose in relation to the overall expenses?
 
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I may be wrong, but doesn't the new evidence suggest that there has been water "flow" and presence on Mars in the recent past, not just over a geological time scale. In fact, if I recall correctly, the evidence suggests that there is sometimes water present on and near the surface present day. This is much more relevant to the search for life on Mars, correct?
 
  • #6
CWatters
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What do you want NASA to do? Turn Curiosity off? I'm fairly sure that it isn't just looking for water but evidence of when water was present and more.
 
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What do you want NASA to do? Turn Curiosity off? I'm fairly sure that it isn't just looking for water but evidence of when water was present and more.
Look for life of course. Or focus on a europa mission, or focus on sending a probe to investigate titan's methane lakes, or check our enceladus' under water ocean, etc, etc. I mean I can think of an infinite number of superior missions. We already know there was water on mars approximately up to 3 billion years ago. Curiosity should spend time finding ice so it can analyze the composition and look for advanced organic molecules rather than sift through dirt to confirm water existed.
 
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I may be wrong, but doesn't the new evidence suggest that there has been water "flow" and presence on Mars in the recent past, not just over a geological time scale. In fact, if I recall correctly, the evidence suggests that there is sometimes water present on and near the surface present day. This is much more relevant to the search for life on Mars, correct?
They had a satellite which saw water streaks on the surface. If they could some how use curiosity to intercept those streaks and investigate the liquid composition then that sounds more useful than re confirming that water is and has been on mars.
 
  • #9
sophiecentaur
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If they could some how use curiosity to intercept those streaks
Unless the landing spot has been chosen right, that could involve a long journey for Curiosity.
 
  • #10
Drakkith
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From here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/overview/index.html

With its rover named Curiosity, Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability."

To find out, the rover carries the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the martian surface. The rover will analyze samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. The record of the planet's climate and geology is essentially "written in the rocks and soil" -- in their formation, structure, and chemical composition. The rover's onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and will assess what the martian environment was like in the past.
Curiosity isn't just focused on water, but because water is so important to life as we know it finding out when, where, and how water existed on Mars is a primary goal of the mission.

From here: http://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html

The first human footsteps on Mars will follow rover tracks. A fleet of robotic explorers already is on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet. The planet once had conditions suitable for life, making it a rich destination for scientific discovery and robotic and human exploration as we expand our presence into the solar system. The formation of Mars and its evolution are comparable to Earth, helping us learn more about our own planet’s history and future. Future exploration could uncover evidence of life on Mars, answering one of the fundamental mysteries of the cosmos: Does life exist beyond Earth?
That's why we're focused on Mars.

Look for life of course. Or focus on a europa mission, or focus on sending a probe to investigate titan's methane lakes, or check our enceladus' under water ocean, etc, etc. I mean I can think of an infinite number of superior missions. We already know there was water on mars approximately up to 3 billion years ago. Curiosity should spend time finding ice so it can analyze the composition and look for advanced organic molecules rather than sift through dirt to confirm water existed.
Obviously the experts at NASA and all the institutes associated with NASA disagree with you, as we're still making Mars a priority and analyzing its soil. Don't you think they may actually have some very good reasons for this?
 
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  • #11
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From here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/overview/index.html



Curiosity isn't just focused on water, but because water is so important to life as we know it finding out when, where, and how water existed on Mars is a primary goal of the mission.

From here: http://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html



That's why we're focused on Mars.



Obviously the experts at NASA and all the institutes associated with NASA disagree with you, as we're still making Mars a priority and analyzing its soil. Don't you think they may actually have some very good reasons for this?
Thanks for your reply. Don't we already know how when and where water existed on mars? And don't we already know the soil composition since the days of the 1970s? I thought the viking lander figured out a good chunk of stuff in the 70's. Then i'm pretty sure the two rovers before curiosity found ample evidence of limestone and silicate deposits, and deltas, and lakes, etc. It just seems like instead of analyzing soil to figure out what we already know, why not use the rover to try and find and sample the water streaks which nasa satallites detected or try to sample ice and test for advanced organic molecules that could be indicative of life? I mean i think the mission was flawed from the beginning because it doesn't have the ability to take a microscopic picture or make cell cultures to see cellular activity--instead the entire mission was designed around finding water and detect basic organic molecules which we already knew was there. I mean if huge canyons, deltas, limestone, riverbeds, and other stuff isn't enough evidence that water existed on mars then what could possibly persuade anyone that there was water? Finding life is ultimately better than finding the things which support life obviously. Finally what will confirming that there is and has been water tell us that we don't already know?

Furthermore NASA experts aren't right just because they're NASA experts. Plenty of other academics disagree with NASA and NASA's petty politics often gets in the way since everyone's pet project needs to be implemented. Consider the MARS express plan to get humans to mars under the current nasa budget a decade ago--NASA was ecstatic about it at first until they realized it didn't use the international space station and that it would cancel a lot of other nasa projects like the curiosity rover to look for water on mars. The point is that NASA doesn't always do the best things; just because nasa experts say something doesn't mean the rest of the scientific community agrees with them or that they're correct. There are better things to do with NASA's budget. Furthermore not everyone in NASA agrees that confirming water on mars again for the 1000th time should be a priority--many argue that the james webb telescope or a Europa mission is much more important.
 
  • #12
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Unless the landing spot has been chosen right, that could involve a long journey for Curiosity.
I think it might be worth it to try rather than confirming for the umpteenth time that "ZOMG WATER WAS ON MARS". I don't understand why we need to confirm that there was water when the evidence is basically undeniable.

Its worth the effort to sample the actual content of water and perhaps see evidence of organic molecules being emitted which strongly support the existence of life. Confirming the existence of life in my submission is a billion times more important than confirming water existed on mars in great quantities. Even if curiosity doesn't make it there, so what? We'll miss out on analyzing some dirt from dried up lakes or riverbeds.
 
  • #13
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Curiosity is first of all a minerology lab, but does have other real time instruments for measuring radiation and basic weather conditions.
It is not any sense designed to be looking for evidence of life presently existing on Mars.

The type of rocks it discovers can be related to similar rocks on Earth.
Some of them can only be formed in the presence of water and other conditions prevailing.
so examining them can tell us a lot about the geological history of Mars.
Some kind of rocks on Earth, chalks, exist as a direct by product of primative life, algea.
Nobody is seriously anticipating finding chalk deposits though
 
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  • #14
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Curiosity is first of all a minerology lab, but does have other real time instruments for measuring radiation and basic weather conditions.
It is not any sense designed to be looking for evidence of life presently existing on Mars.

The type of rocks it discovers can be related to similar rocks on Earth.
Some of them can only be formed in the presence of water and other conditions prevailing.
so examining them can tell us a lot about the geological history of Mars.
Some kind of rocks on Earth, chalks, exist as a direct by product of primative life, algea.
Nobody is seriously anticipating finding chalk deposits though
But why wasn't the primary objective to find life? I mean I would trade all the evidence of past water and all of the dirt analyses and all of the atmospheric tests for just one clearcut example that life was on mars. Minerology is laughably insignificant compared to the search for extra terrestrial life. I also doubt that curiosity could find chalk deposits with its pitiful little scooper even if they existed. And even if there were huge examples of chalk deposits, some scientist would cast doubt on the results by proposing another mechanism .

What curiosity should have been is a rover with a microscope and the ability to form cell cultures. NASA should have tried to analyze ice deposits and the ground around ice deposits in order to see if there were any remains of life. Relative to other scientific research, martian minerology is worthless. Equally useless things to analyze include figuring out a model of how the martian atmosphere changes depending on its orbit, mapping prehistoric lava flows, etc. I mean i really don't understand NASA sometimes--its one of the reason why your average joe just doesn't care about space exploration--NASA spends a lot of time doing really boring scientific research that probably impacts no one and yields no cool information. People are going to get hyped if there's a manned mission, or we discover life, or if we have an underwater probe on Europa, not if NASA discovers some extra uranium in martian dirt. Most people don't care, and reasonably so.
 
  • #15
Drakkith
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But why wasn't the primary objective to find life?
Because goals need to be realistic and achievable, with clear parameters and objectives. The goal of "to find life" isn't really any of those. Especially since we don't even know if life ever existed in the first place.

I mean I would trade all the evidence of past water and all of the dirt analyses and all of the atmospheric tests for just one clearcut example that life was on mars. Minerology is laughably insignificant compared to the search for extra terrestrial life. I also doubt that curiosity could find chalk deposits with its pitiful little scooper even if they existed. And even if there were huge examples of chalk deposits, some scientist would cast doubt on the results by proposing another mechanism .
Looking for evidence of past water and doing dirt analysis is part of the process of determining whether life ever existed on Mars. How did you think we were going to search for evidence of life?

What curiosity should have been is a rover with a microscope and the ability to form cell cultures.
How is that going to be useful when there likely aren't any cells on Mars?

NASA should have tried to analyze ice deposits and the ground around ice deposits in order to see if there were any remains of life. Relative to other scientific research, martian minerology is worthless. Equally useless things to analyze include figuring out a model of how the martian atmosphere changes depending on its orbit, mapping prehistoric lava flows, etc. I mean i really don't understand NASA sometimes--its one of the reason why your average joe just doesn't care about space exploration--NASA spends a lot of time doing really boring scientific research that probably impacts no one and yields no cool information. People are going to get hyped if there's a manned mission, or we discover life, or if we have an underwater probe on Europa, not if NASA discovers some extra uranium in martian dirt. Most people don't care, and reasonably so.
Are you serious? 99.999% of all meaningful science is "boring scientific research" that doesn't immediately impact anyone. If scientific merit was judged on how cool it seemed to the average person, we'd never get anywhere.

Honestly I can't fathom why you have a problem with Curiosity, especially after my previous post explained exactly what Curiosity's mission is and why it carries the equipment it carries. It's starting to sound like you're complaining just to complain.
 
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