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Author Topic: White stuff on Mars?  (Read 1739 times)

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Offline Deviant of LoveTopic starter

White stuff on Mars?
« on: July 01, 2008, 02:27:41 PM »


Quote:
"Is the white stuff in the Martian soil ice or salt?

That's the question bedeviling scientists in the three weeks since the Phoenix lander began digging into Mars' north pole region to study whether the arctic could be habitable.

Shallow trenches excavated by the lander's backhoe-like robotic arm have turned up specks and at times even stripes of mysterious white material mixed in with the clumpy, reddish dirt.

Phoenix merged two previously dug trenches over the weekend into a single pit measuring a little over 1 foot (30 centimeters) long and 3 inches (8 centimeters) deep. The new trench was excavated at the edge of a polygon-shaped pattern in the ground that may have been formed by the seasonal melting of underground ice.

New photos showed the exposed bright substance present only in the top part of the trench, suggesting it's not uniform throughout the excavation site. Phoenix will take images of the trench dubbed "Dodo-Goldilocks" over the next few days to record any changes. If it's ice, scientists expect it to sublimate or go from solid to gas, bypassing the liquid stage.

"We think it's ice. But again, until we can see it disappear ... we're not guaranteed yet," mission scientist Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis said Monday.

Even if it's not ice, the discovery of salt would also be significant because it's normally formed when water evaporates in the soil.

Preliminary results from a bake-and-sniff experiment at low temperatures failed to turn up any trace of water or ice in the scoopful of soil that was delivered to the lander's test oven last week. Scientists planned to heat the soil again this week to up to 1,800 degrees, said William Boynton of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Phoenix landed in the Martian arctic plains on May 25 on a three-month, $420 million mission to study whether the polar environment could be favorable for primitive life to emerge. The lander's main job is to dig into an ice layer believed to exist a few inches from the surface.

The project is led by the University of Arizona and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The lander was built by Lockheed Martin Corp."



I am terribly interested in this discovery!  As you can see, perhaps we've really struck into something promising on Mars.  I wanted to know what you guys thought, your speculations, and your outlook on this subject.

Offline Paradox

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2008, 03:00:53 PM »
As much as I want it to be ice, my money is on it being salt. Ice wouldn't be such a stark white color; especially not in the midst of all of that reddish-brown soil.

By the way, the title of this topic is awfully misleading!

Offline Deviant of LoveTopic starter

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2008, 03:07:32 PM »
As much as I want it to be ice, my money is on it being salt. Ice wouldn't be such a stark white color; especially not in the midst of all of that reddish-brown soil.

By the way, the title of this topic is awfully misleading!

Ahahaha.  I know.  I meant for it to be.  I thought the same thing with the name of the original article.  I too would put my money of it being salt, or perhaps some sort of uncommon foreign substance.  Or, the Columbian drug trade has already expanded into new scale...
x]

Offline Kyrsa

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2008, 05:10:48 PM »
Actually, NASA is currently saying that this is in fact ice because it evaporated into the atmosphere after being uncovered.

Offline Deviant of LoveTopic starter

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2008, 05:58:24 PM »
Actually, NASA is currently saying that this is in fact ice because it evaporated into the atmosphere after being uncovered.

Then that most definitely settles the prospect of sublimation.
Wow.  This is really exciting for me.  -Nerdgasm.-

Offline Kyrsa

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2008, 06:01:58 PM »
Then that most definitely settles the prospect of sublimation.
Wow.  This is really exciting for me.  -Nerdgasm.-


lol!! One of my friends called me when he heard... screaming over the phone, I could hear him jumping up and down.  He proceeded to call everyone he knew :D

Offline Deviant of LoveTopic starter

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2008, 06:04:16 PM »
lol!! One of my friends called me when he heard... screaming over the phone, I could hear him jumping up and down.  He proceeded to call everyone he knew :D

o_o I did the same thing.  I even called this one guy that usually only gets a call as a result of drunk dialing.
"Who discovered it, Jose Cuervo?"
I bet he felt like a real ass later.

Offline Paradox

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2008, 06:39:51 PM »
Are they sure it was evaporation and not just some sort of disturbance that caused it to blow away? I remember that Mariner 9 landed in the midst of a large storm of dust. Combined with the presence of dunes and windstreaks, that means wind definitely exists on Mars. Maybe it blew the salt away, if it was in a loose particle form and not compacted into a dense deposit like we have here on Earth.

Offline Kyrsa

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2008, 06:44:41 PM »
They seem fairly certain, but it is always a possibility.  Considering that they haven't mentioned the possibility at all I assume that they have some tests or pictures that help to prove the ice theory that they haven't released yet, or that I haven't heard about.

Offline Lithos

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2008, 06:45:40 PM »
Update to previous:

The Phoenix science team spent Thursday analyzing new images and data successfully returned from the lander earlier in the day.

Studying the initial findings from the new "Snow White 2" trench, located to the right of "Snow White 1," Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, co-investigator for the robotic arm, said, "We have dug a trench and uncovered a hard layer at the same depth as the ice layer in our other trench."

Also, they are even more certain that findings on first were ice.

And with layer depth same, chances are that there is now layer of solid ice to be inspected. Will see in few days I guess
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 06:46:43 PM by Lithos »

Offline Paradox

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2008, 06:49:38 PM »
How soon before we start importing hot green martian babes?

This is incredible. I'm on the border of a nerdgasm myself. I had always hoped to hear of water on Mars.

Now...since other elements in liquid form are able to freeze, how likely is it that this is actual H20?

Offline Xillen

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2008, 06:53:03 PM »
Doesn't all of this raise the chance of Mars being colonizable?

Offline Paradox

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2008, 06:56:31 PM »
If we can figure out a few to harness the water and sterilize it, then yeah (assuming it does indeed turn out to be true H20). I doubt it'll be anytime soon, but it definitely opens the door; making it a real possibility, I would hope. For now, I'm just interested in hearing any of the theories about Life on Mars. With the tentative confirmation of water being present, there are sure to be new ideas and conjectures coming out soon; also, I hope the project uncovers an actual trace or two of life beyond the mere "organic matter" that they've detected so far.

Offline Kyrsa

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2008, 06:58:31 PM »
The current probe isn't actually looking for life in any form, so those tests aren't able to be done.  It was programed to find the building blocks of life, to see if it is even a possibility.

Offline Deviant of LoveTopic starter

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2008, 07:05:31 PM »
I believe that whatever it is, it would be compacted, being under Martian soil and traceable to a depth beyond a couple of inches.

Offline Vekseid

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2008, 07:58:52 PM »
Are they sure it was evaporation and not just some sort of disturbance that caused it to blow away? I remember that Mariner 9 landed in the midst of a large storm of dust. Combined with the presence of dunes and windstreaks, that means wind definitely exists on Mars. Maybe it blew the salt away, if it was in a loose particle form and not compacted into a dense deposit like we have here on Earth.

The surrounding soil was not disturbed, so no.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2008, 10:53:19 PM »
And exactly why are they wasting my money on THIS exactly? We just had a Mars mission that far exceeded expectations so why send this one I see no reason to go there in person with a national debt nearing $10 trillion dollars.

Offline Kyrsa

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2008, 11:00:16 PM »
Well, i think that part of the reason is that if we don't someone else will.  We can't really afford to be left behind, and in the long run it is far better to be in the forefront of such endeavors.  It's also a matter of securing our place in the future, though it won't be in my lifetime I'm sure.  If we don't lead the way then we will have to follow, any discoveries will have to be studied through some elses data, which we will only get access to on their whim, and will have to pay for to boot. 

My philosophy is it's better to lead than follow, and that goes double for a country.  But that's just my opinion :D

Offline The Overlord

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2008, 05:50:46 PM »
And exactly why are they wasting my money on THIS exactly? We just had a Mars mission that far exceeded expectations so why send this one I see no reason to go there in person with a national debt nearing $10 trillion dollars.

The question, rather, should be why shouldn't we spend money on this just because we're in debt because of a ton of bullshit expenditures elsewhere?

For those that care to do the research, there have been tons of spin-off technologies developed for space travel and exploration that have literally come to ground and improved things here.

In the recent past I saw a forum user on some other boards make the observation that as Americans we do bigger things, not necessarily better things. In many cases this is correct; doing things bigger is seared into the American psyche, and it's not always a good thing. In fact it often isn't; from the size of the huge vehicles that we trundle down our world's-largest highway system with (and I for one am glad this era is finally in its twilight with the price of crude oil), to the massive portions that our restaurants, particularly our fast food industry slops into a styrofoam container or just plain wastes.

But NASA; our national space program, but also our private enterprise that is beginning to pick up the pace and bridge the technological gap, sometime alone and sometimes with international partnership, does do bigger and better things.

The world that we live in is in a state of transition, and it takes but a look out your window to see it. The world most of will us die in will not be the same one we are currently living in, and in some instances that will be a good thing.

I've seen an article just last night on television that some indigenous tribes within the US, historically deprived of their native lands often at gunpoint or through deceit, has acquired the wealth and means to buy large tracts of lands and are letting it return to the prairies and other undeveloped lands that it used to be. Before the European settlers, before the cities, before the shopping malls and apartment complexes.

The trends I am seeing have been confirming the suspicions I have had for years now; as we adjust our ways of life to deal with dwindling resources and increasing threats to the environment, the answers will be both old and new.

The technological machine that our so-called developed nations have been constructing in the past century has its merits. As we turn to old world and saner solutions, we will also find a fusion with new and radical technologies. Old and new; this is the world which we shall inherit, and my nerves twitch at the prospects and opportunities which it may bring us.

The internet in front of you right now, for example, is one thing that will not just survive but thrive in the 21st century. As fuel prices increase globally, more and more businesses will see the need to get teleconferencing going as their main line of communication, and to get workers to work from their home whenever possible.

The space program; not just the American space program but all national and international space programs is the way of the future. The technologies that will continue to spin off of it will keep finding ways to improves our lives here and our relationship with the planet.

But as humans there always comes a point when we tire of simply gazing longingly at the horizon, and find a way to pick up and travel there to see what lies beyond it. It was true of Neolithic Man that wondered what lies beyond his home in the plains and jungles of Africa, it was true when Columbus, Magellan and Marco Polo set sail to see what lie beyond the boundless blue seas, and it's going to continue to be true long after we're all gone.

It's been said that Earth is our cradle, and one cannot live in the cradle forever. But it's way more important than even that; without that next horizon to reach we just stop; we stop as a culture and civilization. Colonizing other worlds in inevitable, even if I daresay it, a manifest destiny. It's part of what we do and who we are, and we live in the greatest age yet; the one where the borders of our own world are becoming too confining and we have the means after thousands of years of civilizations to do something about it.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2008, 05:55:11 PM by The Overlord »

Offline Paradox

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2008, 07:01:03 PM »
Great God Almighty, you should publish that somehow.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: White stuff on Mars?
« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2008, 10:05:36 PM »
Maybe it's the creme filling.  Like a Hostess snack.