back to article WATER SURPRISE: Liquid found on Mars, says NASA

NASA has had the space community on tenterhooks for the last week, and on Monday made its big reveal – there is liquid water on Mars. "Liquid water has been found on Mars," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters at a press conference on Monday. The research, published in Nature Geoscience, analyzed …

  1. Charlie van Becelaere
    Boffin

    Dark Streaks

    "We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration," said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology, lead author of a report.

    Aha! Dry Canals! Can Tars Tarkas be far behind?

    1. JeevesMkII

      Re: Dark Streaks

      Not so much the canals of Mars as the rivulets of Mars.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Alien

        Re: Dark Streaks

        "Water is patient, Adelaide, water just waits. It wears down the clifftops, the mountains, the whole of the world. Water always wins!"

        - The Doctor in The Waters of Mars

        1. Zmodem

          Re: Dark Streaks

          alien skidmarks

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Tasty Morsel

    "...the Curiosity rover was sterilized of Earth life as much as possible, but it might be determined that the decontamination process wasn't enough, and that this may skew the results."

    How will they determine the decontam wasn't sufficient? When a hardy Earth bacterium gets to that wet soil and mutates into "The Mould that Ate Mars"? It would serve us right for skewing around...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Chemist

      Re: Tasty Morsel

      "When a hardy Earth bacterium gets to that wet soil"

      It'll have to be hard with soil containing chlorates and perchlorate in high-ish concentration

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Tasty Morsel

        Sounds like a job for Dechlorosoma sp.

        1. wdmot

          Re: Tasty Morsel

          Or perhaps several other microorganisms. If the wikipedia article on perchlorate is correct (in the very short "Biology" section), over 40 microorganisms have been identified that can grow via perchlorate reduction. As that process usually produces both water and free oxygen, could this be one of the tools to terraform Mars? Assuming we can warm the soil enough for the microorganisms to function, of course!

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Tasty Morsel

            Since the atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide surely Thermageddon is imminent and so the soil will soon be hotter than the hinges of Hell.

        2. Chemist

          Re: Tasty Morsel

          "Sounds like a job for Dechlorosoma sp."

          Nice spot !

          However there's no indication that this organism could cope with the concentration of such salts ( assumed to be high due to the freezing point depression), either from the toxic effects or just the osmotic effect

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Things people said in the past, which have since been regretted...

        Nobody will mind if I bring a parakeet into the UK, they can't survive outdoors can they?

        This Japanese Knotweed looks kinda cute. Think I'll smuggle a cutting in my baggage see if it will grow in the garden. what harm can it do?

        etc.

        1. Your alien overlord - fear me

          Re: Things people said in the past, which have since been regretted...

          What we really need are cane toads.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tasty Morsel

        We are probably already past the when we contaminate the planet, it was confirmed years ago that some of the earliest probes sent there were not sterile, given how crazy the wind is there if that can spread it has. I guess we could still contaminate it further.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Tasty Morsel

          Good! CON-TAMI-NATE!

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: Tasty Morsel

            Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

            You can call it contamination, or you can call it preliminary terraforming.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Tasty Morsel

              "Priming the pump," so to speak.

              That's assuming there aren't ancient bacteriods lurking within the dunes, honed by 4000 million years of selection/adaptation to any remaining niches. I feel sorry for the Earth bug that gets mixed up with those hard cases.

              1. Grikath

                Re: Tasty Morsel

                Well.... anything brought from Earth that's still viable and able to jump-and-thrive into something that hostile to most of life here, especially after surviving cleanroom treatment, launch, a rather lengthy bit of space travel and irradiation, atmospheric entry and a lengthy stay on the martian surface....

                It would pretty much deserve living there on Mars and inherit the planet before we figure out how to live there, if ever.

                Unlikely as it is already, as pointed out above it then has to compete with the highly specialised life that may possibly exist in that environment already, with precious little chance of beating those specialists at their own game.

                The scenario is conceivable, but it's so far down the probability curve it's cuddling up to the event horizon of "ludicrous".

              2. Adze

                Re: Tasty Morsel

                There could be a weird Wellsian backflip that occurs there, where a relatively benign bacterium from Earth carried by one of our own probes, learns new tricks from some nasty corrosive environment, flickknife wielding Martian bacteria and turns into the thing which prevents human colonization of Mars, much as the 'common cold' did for the Martians in War of the Worlds.

      4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Tasty Morsel

        "When a hardy Earth bacterium gets to that wet soil

        I cannot think of anything on Earth that is hardy enough to survive in perchlorate at -70.

        In fact, any(micro)organism capable of living in this will have to have a metabolism different to anything we know of.

        Someone pointed to Dechlorosoma as an example of something that can eat this kind of substrate. Sure it can. Not at -70 and not in the concentrations capable of changing the water boiling and melting point.

    3. hplasm
      Alien

      Re: Tasty Morsel

      Nobody could have imagined, in the early years of the 21st century...

      </DanDanDaaaaan!>

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Caught a glimpse of interview on BBC news with what appeared to be an Ian Gillan tribute act.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge
  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    Let me be the first

    to Yawn.... probably not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Chivo Re: Let me be the first

      Dude!

      You have no imagination.

      This means that when the astronauts (mixed company) get to Mars, they can now host the first actual wet t-shirt contest using 100% Martian water.

      I for one am looking forward to that... (not!)

      1. ian 22

        Re: @Chivo Let me be the first

        The 8-breasted Martian babes will win those wet t-shirt contests every time!

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: @Chivo Let me be the first

          I thought they only had three breasts?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Chivo Let me be the first

            Wrong film! John Carter showed us the reality that alien women are always unfeasibly hot...

            .

            ...and the brunette wasn't bad either.

            .

            badoom tish or should that be barsoom tish, geddit?

  5. Kaltern

    Scientists have conclusively proven that water might be on Mars. But, they don't actually know as they have yet to see it. But it's there. Oh yes, it's there, and this new $5million grant will it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      With NASA that should be $5 Million Billion. TFTFY.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Water surprise, I see what you did there, H2ho ho ho

  7. bed

    Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

    Pure water can exist below zero, usually as ice, and I am reasonably sure it exists above 10 degrees centigrade as well, though this depends on ambient air pressure - the lower the air pressure the lower the temperature at which water will boil, hence the problems getting a decent cup of tea in Tibet.

    1. ben edwards

      Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

      The whole schtick is "liquid" water, not frozen. Frozen water can be found anywhere.

      1. dorsetknob
        Flame

        Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

        "" The whole schtick is "liquid" water, not frozen. Frozen water can be found anywhere. ""

        even on the surface of our twin VENUS "YEH SURE "

        ICON FOR HOW HOT VENUS IS

        1. Your alien overlord - fear me

          Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

          Ice has been spotted on the poles of Mercury so Venus, no sweat (it sublimes to quickly!!!)

      2. hplasm
        Devil

        Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

        " Frozen water can be found anywhere."

        Volcanoes?

    2. Hairy Spod

      Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

      errrr yes and I think that can be read as the air pressure on Mars = Low enough that it doesn't really exist above 10C.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

      What problems with tea in Tibet? It's the UK that gets the floor sweepings. Chinese green tea is pretty good.

    4. Efros

      Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

      Never mind tea, you can't cook potatoes on Everest, boiling point at the summit is about 70C, means most post pub neckfillers are screwed. Just as well there are no pubs there I suppose.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        No Pub on Mars?

        Hmm, if there were, it would be called the Mars Bar.

      2. Grikath

        Re: Pure water can exist only between zero and 10 degrees centigrade???

        well the atmosphere at the summit of Everest is highly hospitable compared to Mars..

  8. PNGuinn
    Pint

    Hydrated salts, eh?

    Pah!

    Sounds like they've just found a martian urinal.

    At the slight risk of being accused of taking the p**s, might I humbly suggest that a certain German car fiddler might be very interested in this?

    Icon because some might suggest.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hydrated salts, eh?

      Putting perchlorate in a Diesel engine would certainly reduce emissions. Not all salts are equal.

      You could power an engine with perchlorate and sugar, but I doubt a VW car unit could be easily converted. It would be a little like the Lawrence Livermore pellet fusion experiments but only needing one laser and no neutron absorber

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Surf's up!!! Maybe, maybe not.

    "Everywhere we go there's liquid water we find life," said Green.

    So other than Earth, where else has liquid water been found? And the life that goes with it? Or is this something that we haven't been told... yet.

    1. perlcat

      Re: Surf's up!!! Maybe, maybe not.

      I'm putting that down as one of the stupidest scientific quotes of all time. You can always get a 1:1 correlation if you adjust your sample size down to the one instance where you have found life. Clearly there's no intelligent life in his office.

  10. Dr. G. Freeman
    Joke

    Hang on didn't we see something about this being a bad thing on the documentary Doctor Who ?

    Think it was "The Waters of Mars".

  11. Louis Schreurs BEng Bronze badge
    Pint

    Facebook

    Ye ye yeye ye ye yeah yes. Water between 0 and 100 centigrade.

    Anybody noticed that Facebook has gone titsup????

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Facebook

      That is Good News!

  12. sisk

    So, waters of Mars then...

    Where's a Tardis when you need it?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: So, waters of Mars then...

      Dispersed.

  13. TonyWilk

    Good news and bad news

    Perchlorate brine sounds like a useful source of both H2O and O2, at a pinch you could make a solid rocket from the stuff if you had some fuel.

    Bad news for any ancient life-as-we-know-it, perchlorate would've 'eaten' it long ago. So, apart from any extremophiles living on the stuff, the only hope for other life remnants would be deep in CO2 permafrost - maybe.

    I hope we go there and find out.

  14. Rocketist
    Childcatcher

    Mud on Mars?

    Better don't tell the children or they'll want to go and play in it! The last thing I need is to put a couple of muddy spacesuits in that washing machine.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Mud on Mars?

      Wonder if ao.com would deliver a replacement next day?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mud on Mars?

      What, you're afraid of dark streaks on your spacesuit?

  15. Your alien overlord - fear me

    If the water is trapped underground, the oxygen is certainly also tied up in the alien machines as per the Arnie fronted documentary Total Recall - never understood why it didn't get a Pulitzer.

  16. Sceptic Tank
    Alien

    I propose a trade embargo.

    What does this discovery mean for the price of bath salts here on earth? Will the stock price of the companies that produce them tank?

  17. Measurer
    Pint

    Whither Briny liquid?

    If the Martians are anything like I used to be, copious amounts of 'briny liquid' were produced on a Monday morning after a heavy weekend. Maybe its just bad sewerage?

  18. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    Timing is everything

    Been reading Boundary by Ryk Spoor where they find an ice-coated cavern below Valles Marineris. The theory being that Mars has a water table 100's of metres below the surface where fossil ice sublimes and is deposited in the caverns.

    But that is just well-written and interesting fiction, isn't it?

    1. Esme

      Re: Timing is everything

      Valles Marineris might be a deep canyon system, but it's set in elevated terrain. If you want to go deep to look for water, you;re better off looking in Hellas, which, IIRC is the deepest crate on the planet. I'd love to see what the base of the walls of Hellas look like close up. And test the soil for brines at the deepest point.

  19. Alister Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "Liquid water has been found on Mars," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters at a press conference on Monday.

    Um, no.

    "Traces left by liquid water, have been found on Mars"

    Yes!

    1. Zmodem

      they posted a animated gif

      http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia14472.html

      not sure why they are taking the same photo of the same place a few times, and saying the orbiter has only shot 4% of mars

    2. thomas k

      I would have gone with "Strong evidence pointing to the presence of liquid water" myself but, yes, came to make to same point only to see I'd been ninja'd by Alister. Good job, sir.

  20. Rustident Spaceniak
    Alien

    Meanwhile, on the underground Telesense network of Mars -

    - The docudrama "Invasion from Planet Earth" is going into its nineteenth season since Viking I arrived, back in 1976.

    Young Martians still can't understand why the high council hasn't put a stop to this yet.

  21. Rick Giles
    Joke

    I for one

    Welcome our perchlorate overlords.

  22. Chris Evans

    Were else?

    "Everywhere we go there's liquid water we find life,"

    Apart from on Earth where else have they found life?

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