Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mars - ice, ice everywhere

If historians look back at our time, they will be puzzled by many things. One of the oddest puzzles will be the curious lack of interest in the stunning discoveries being made on Mars.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Radar sees ice deep below Mars:

Mars Express has become the first spacecraft to detect reserves of water ice beneath the surface of the Red Planet, experts have announced.

The Marsis radar experiment carried onboard appears to have discovered water ice 2km into the subsurface.

It is thought the greatest reservoir of retained water on Mars could be found beneath the surface, perhaps providing a habitat for microbial life.

... Underground layered deposits at the planet's north pole have an upper unit thought to be dominated by water ice. This water ice is believed to be nearly pure, with only about 2% contamination by dust.

Beneath this ice layer is a lower unit containing sand cemented with water ice...

... Chryse Planitia is thought to have been shaped by the outflow of floodwaters from the Valles Marineris region and other areas of the northern highlands.

The radar should be able to detect liquid water if it exists in that form beneath the Martian surface.

'We have found no convincing evidence of liquid water yet,' said Jeff Plaut, Marsis principal investigator at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The science team will begin using the radar experiment to search for liquid water in late December.
Emphases mine. I suppose Europe was the same way when the first reports came in of mysterious lands across the ocean. There was a lot going on and the ocean seemed very wide. It was hard to imagine what the future impact of the news would be.

I note the word "convincing". I wonder what Plaut meant. Late December is not far away ...

Ice or not, Mars has water. Lots and lots of water. If anything like us is around in a hundred years, it will live there.

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