back to article Clay minerals point to vast Martian lakes

A study published today in Nature indicates that large swathes of the ancient Martian highlands, comprising about half the planet, contain clay-like minerals which can only form in the presence of water, demonstrating that the Red Planet once hosted "vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environments that had the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I'd be very grateful if someone could tell me, assuming the geezers in the article are right, where did all the water come from and where did it go?

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    You just wanted to use 'viz;' in an article, didn't you?

    Paris because she, well, just because, ok?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It forms when hydrogen and oxygen combust, it vanishes as it slowly gets evaporated over the aeons and escapes into space.

  4. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: viz;

    'Just because' is no longer adequate justification for Paris.

    So think on.

  5. Sulehir


    The water presumably came from the combustion of hydrogen in an oxygenated environment. As for where it has gone, that is what the NASA types are trying to figure out, current theories mainly focus on the water either having reacted with various minerals and being 'locked' into the rock or vast underground ice reserves (which would probably be centered around the poles).

    Alternative theory to humour creationists: Sky fairy giveth and sky fairy taketh away.

    Penguin - 'cause they are the secret rulers of the martian ice.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    @Sarah Bee - just because...

    Well, I didn't like to do any Viz jokes...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "it vanishes as it slowly gets evaporated over the aeons and escapes into space."

    Why doesn't gravity keep it in the atmosphere? And why wouldn't it rain to join the earth again? (is the earth on mars called earth??)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Source of water

    As I understand it, (I'm not an expert) water is found all over the solar system in reasonably large quantites in the form of icy comets. It's also released by gaseous processes in magma, the combination of which is supposedly responsible for the oceans on earth and other planets.

    The theory as to where it went is that because mars has little or no magnetic field (has it's molten core solidified?) the sun's solar wind effecetively boiled it off.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Given earth and water temps are what we know, Martian atmosphere is thinner and the planet is further from the sun, so temps are lower so it doesn't actually have to be at the poles though it will most likely be in the ice form.

    It will be underground as the planets has gravity and that will draw it in, any surface water will either have evaporated or become gas through sublimation (skips the liquid phase) over the years and the rotation to and away and towards the sun.

    Still good news for us all wanting to get off this rock.

  10. Jolyon Ralph

    Origins of water

    There is plenty of water out in space, think about comets - mostly water ice.

    In this case water probably formed directly from combination of O and H ions in space rather than any 'burning' of H2


  11. Henry Cobb

    We already know what happens when a planet loses Hydrogen

    Venus is currently Hydrogen poor, but the remainder is enriched in heavy Hydrogen (deuterium), as that takes longer to escape.

    Has the same study been done on Mars?

    That would distinguish between escape and lockdown (in buried ice).

  12. Stuart

    Magnetic field

    I think the lack of magnetic layer surrounding Mars is part of the problem. A wind made of charged particles very gently blows away atoms of water in the atmosphere (and also the atmosphere it's self). Gravity is an incredibly weak force and over a massive period of time the charged particle wind has slowly removed the water and most of the atmosphere. It doesn't happen to Earth because magnetic shells deflect the charged particle wind around the Earth.

  13. Ru

    And where did the water go?

    There are icecaps, of course. There's plenty of water there still.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why look for water?

    Why is NASA going to all this trouble looking for water when all they need to do in order to see if there is or used to be life on Mars is to have a closer look at some of the very odd structures (pyramids, "buildings" etc) that have been picked up from orbiting probes. Water or not, if these turn out to be what they look like, then they will have their answer and the answer will be a shed-load more interesting than "is there water?".

    If similar structures to these were seen on Earth (in, say, some very remote area) then nobody would think twice about having a closer look, and would probably have some pretty good theories about what they are before they even got there. But because they are on Mars, they are being deliberately ignored. It doesn't make sense.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Why don't they send a nuclear bomb to Mars and use a spectrometergraphthing to see how much H2O shows up when it explodes?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous coward

    Re: water

    The current hypothesis of planetary formation is that the building blocks of the planets really don't much resemble what we see today - instead their bulk composition was probably much more like cometary matter - rich in volatile compounds like water, methane and ammonia. So the proto-Mars would have had much more water present than we see today. When these rocks were being formed, Mars was regularly receiving fresh supplies of water courtesy of the huge cometary impacts which helped carve out the Martian craters.

    As for where it went. A good deal would have been converted into hydrated minerals in the Martian crust (like these phyllosilicates), some would have migrated into the subsoil permafrost, but the vast majority has been lost forever because Mars is too small.

    Being small, Mars' interior cooled quickly and solidified. As it did so, the Martian magnetic field would have collapsed to the current pitiful strength. The magentic field helps shield the Martian atmosphere from the solar wind, no field and the wind can impact straight on to the atmosphere where sub-atomic particles tear molecules - such as water - apart. The free hydrogen atoms have velocities considerable in excess of Mars' escape velocity and are lost to space, the free oxygen wouldn't have escaped, but would have reacted with rocks and been locked away in the crust.

    As the atmosphere was eroded, the liquid phase of water would not be possible on the Martian surface; water only being found in the form of ice or water vapour. Any vapour is vulnerable to being lost to space, so the process continues.

  17. david wilson
    Black Helicopters

    @AC - (Why look for water?)

    Unless they're *still* all busy doing shockingly amateur alien autopsies, NASA will be looking at the 'buildings', but keeping everything under wraps.

    Of course, to make a really good conspiracy, they'll have to involve hundreds or thousands of people, somehow knowing in advance that not *one* of them will spill the beans even though what they know would make an amazing story.

    Really, it's cunning on NASA's part.

    Rather than carefully checking out all their images and witholding any that had evidence of martian construction, they carefully let a few sneak out so they could identify the people who are resistant to all the mind-control drugs they sneak into our water supply.

    However, it could be that they're even smarter than that, actually holding back all the *real* martian-construction pictures, and just releasing a few they've doctored with features at 'Bigfoot resolution' (just blurry enough to look like there might be something there). Of course, when people spot the features, they can do a legitimate higher-resolution image later and show that there was really nothing there all along, and it was just an artifact in the original image.

    The really sneaky thing is that by releasing those few interesting pictures, it makes people think that all the images they release with nothing on are both boring and legitimate, when in fact some are doctored to cover up the *real* buildings.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Source of water

    Mars also has a significantly lower mass and gravity, which also explains why it is unable to cling on to an atmosphere.

    Paris, because she's still moist.

  19. Jaap Stoel

    Re: Why look for water?

    They've done that already, years ago. All of those 'buildings' turned out to be natural rock formation. Like the stone face of mars, they seemed artifical due to a trick of the light and limited perspective.

  20. Garth
    Paris Hilton

    @Sarah Bee

    Paris Hilton because they haven't found intelligent life there, either.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Neil Barnes

    when you said, "Paris because she, well, just because, ok?" what

    you really meant was "paris, because it's the closest thing we have to the lovely Sarah."

  22. Chris
    Paris Hilton

    @AC re @Neil Barnes

    @AC re the lovely Sarah (not that I disagree) but you bloody creep


    and to quote the Moderatrix

    Because the boat.

  23. Bucky

    @Jaap Stoel

    Uh, you seem to be COMPLETELY forgetting the Martian cities of Helium and Zodanga.

    Next you'll be telling me that when I look at the clouds and see a horsie and a piggy that I'm not actually seeing horsies and piggies up there.


  24. Sylvain Pimpare

    NASA are traitors

    People you are missing the point! The actual bosses of NASA are corrupt! They don't WANT to prove life exist, they are doing reverse psychologie by making you believe that if they are still searching that mean that they don't know about that ETs are already here!

    PLEASE, PLEASE stop being stupid and LISTEN and READ those TESTIMONIES of some NASA employees!!!

    NASA are lying to you! This article is pure PROPAGANDA! There are ETs bases on the other side of the moon for a LEAST 60 years and NASA know about this! Please listen and read those HEROES wistle-blowers!

    Please go to google video and search "disclosure project" and watch all the videos.

    NASA is a government agency, they are brain washing you! ETs EXISTS we can prove it! Go to google video! Stop being stupid! You are all acting like those idiots when people like me tried to prove the earth is round or about evolution, you are all on DENIAL. You all being brash-wash from birth. Go to google video and search "disclosure project", stop believeing the Mass Media and the Government and LEARN the truth.

    Come on people its not difficult to do. Dont let the fear get to you! You can do it! You can learn. Truth SCIENCE come by learning and analyzing. NEVER in the History of Humanities the Elites were on the side of the truth so why do you people keep believing them generation after generation? Can you realizing what they did to you? The stupider you are the easier they can CONTROL you. That's the prime reason why they keep this secret, to make you STUPID! A society that get smart ALWAYS did a revolution against the CORRUPT actual governement. They want to stay in power and continue to control you. They ONLY they can do that is making the population so stupid that they won't NEVER revolt! WE have non corrupt, kind people that can replace this corrupt Gov and they are the whistle-blower in disclosure project, that why the Mass Media don't want their written testimony being publish in their newspaper. You all under control!

    Go to google video and search "disclosure project" and watch those TESTIMONIES! Do you realize that if any of those 500 whistle-blower were lying that would be 30 years in prison! They are not saying that ETs exist and the Gov are corrupt, THEY ARE TESTIFYING IT! WRITTEN TESTIFY UNDER OATH! Come on people! They have also TOP SECRET documents and RADAR RECORDINGS.

    Come on people stop being stupid and WAKE UP!

  25. Pyros
    Black Helicopters

    There, there...

    Calm down, Mr. Pimpare. We believe you. In fact, I believe there are two fine reporters in that room over there. You can tell 'em everything that you've said here, and they'll make sure the right people hear the right words.

    They'll be the ones in the sharp-looking black suits. Don't mind their habit of wearing sunglasses indoors--they've been spending their time indoors for quite a bit.

  26. Chris Miller


    Mr Pimpare's meds seem to be wearing off ...

  27. Jach

    Wake me up...

    ...when you actually find Martians. I'll even be interested if it's just simple alien bacterium. (Just be careful about bringing it back or you'll destroy the Earth!)

  28. StopthePropaganda

    wha did we miss?

    I'm pretty sure there were no civilizations, or "intelligent" life forms evolved before the end-I sure hope so anyways. But what about flora? any sort of animal or vertibrate life? Did things run and hunt and live and die on Mars that were gone before vertebrate life crawled from the seas here on Earth? What lived in those martian seas? Were they radically different, alien life forms, or were they easily recognizeable for what they were? Would evolution itself work the same as it did here or perhaps even that "universal truth" worked differently?

    Sometimes, it's what is lost that has more impact than what was found, eh?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @ Sylvain Pimpare

    "....ETs EXISTS we can prove it! Go to google video!.."

    well, if it's on google video, that's proof enough for me!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Where did the watter come from?

    Where did the watter come from?

    Remember when god made it rain for 40 days and nights and only Noah and his family survived? Well, when the waters receded god had to put it some ware. He put it on Mars. That is why they call it the NOACHIAN period.

    The reason it is missing is because he is gathering it up to flood the earth because of the the filthy lying sinning atheist sinners posting comments on el reg.

  31. Jacob Lipman

    @Crazy Raving Person sans Medication


    Well shit, if they written testify under oath, we're really... wait, what?

    "you are all on DENIAL."

    I'm not, but if you can tell me where to get it, I'll try anything once.

    So the lesson we must learn from Mr. Pimpare is that we're all stupid and his form of grammar is superior to ours. It's not quite alien (only amanfrommars has mastered an extraterrestrial tongue), but it's damned close. The flame because that's what we use to burn heretics who dare to criticize the Holy Truth of NASA.

  32. david wilson
    Black Helicopters

    @Sylvain Pimpare

    >>"Please go to google video and search "disclosure project" and watch all the videos."

    Don't listen to Sylvain!

    That's just what NASA *want* you to do, so they can hunt you down.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ Sylvain Pimpare

    this, children, is what happens when amanfrommars and Webster Phreaky make love

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    >>"this, children, is what happens when amanfrommars and Webster Phreaky make love"

    What - *two* piles of Kleenex, each in front of their own full-length mirror?

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