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back to article Curiosity succeeds – Mars was wet enough for life!

Test results from NASA's Curiosity rover's drilling and chemical analysis of Martian rock show that the Red Planet could have supported life as we know it. "A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program …

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What Are We Waiting For?

So, let's just put the atmosphere back on it, build a massive hose to put a load of water there and then go and live there.

What's the big deal?

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Alien

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

>"So, let's just put the atmosphere back on it, build a massive hose to put a load of water there and then go and live there."

Why bother? Just send Schwartzenegger up there to push the button, start the alien reactor, and instantly create the breathable atmosphere and rain clouds.

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Re: What Are We Waiting For?

We? You first! I'm quite happy with earth, thanks.

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Thumb Up

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

FUND IT!

Oort Cloud Mining Now for Better Lebensraum!

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Re: What Are We Waiting For?

The point of the whole exercise was "*DID* it have live?". The fact that it doesn't any longer tells you quite a lot. It's a pretty inhospitable place. Sure, our best chance in the reachable solar system, but hardly a walk in the park.

For a start, the atmosphere has been blown away since all this water was about and all this water is - well - gone. It survives at the poles as ice, we hope, but the temperatures range from 32 degrees down to -150. That's a hot summer day on the equator in the sun, and colder than the coldest ever recorded temperature on Earth around the rest of the year/planet/shadow.

It took us 7 months to get an answer from a robot on the ground there. It'll be centuries before we do anything serious on there.

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Pint

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

YOU are happy to be on Earth. After all the atrocities I've seen, (region locking! oppressive governments! Internet and television censorship! bronies!) I don't want to live on this planet anymore and would jump on the gun to get off as soon as I can. Especially before the Vogons show up with their planet disintegrators.

Beer, Because I'd rather forget that the four evil things I just mentioned exists. I drink to forget.

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Angel

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

But Bronies are Good For You and promote Friendship!

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Trollface

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

>Why bother? Just send Schwartzenegger up there to push the button, start the alien reactor, and instantly create the breathable atmosphere and rain clouds.

You had me at "just send Schwartzenegger"

I hear the Capricorn One is ready to go

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Unhappy

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

If you think a Mars government would be any better you need to look up "hydraulic despotism" in your history books.

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Boffin

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

Nope, the mission is intended to determine whether Mars has ever had environmental conditions favorable for life, NOT to find evidence of life itself.

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Windows

Good point, Robin!

Seems the UK has excess water, after the flooding so shove it up there.

(Suck it back when the next UK hosepipe ban starts, of course! OK, one place to park the 'overflow...

)

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Black Helicopters

Re: Good point, Robin!

Why do you think we have ever had hosepipe bans on such a wet island? The giant hose is already there...

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Happy

Re: Good point, Robin!

For a moment here I was back in a 60s Batman and Robin episode, where the Penguin would have stolen water from the British Isles...

Or as part of some plot when combined with Mr. Freeze...

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Great, but...

I wonder if they ever got the primary computer sorted.

That said it'll be interesting if they can find actual evidence of life. Not just the recipe.

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Coat

Sailors...

... fighting in the dance hall

Oh man! Look at those cavemen go

It's the freakiest show

Take a look at the lawman

Beating up the wrong guy

Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know

He's in the best selling show

Is there life on Mars?

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Well, I'd love for them to find evidence of a bit more than water and a microbe or two, but I assume it's quite possible the place once had water and no trace of any life whatsoever.

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Optimistic realist

Upvoted because I think most people would be very happy if they found evidence life there.

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Gimp

Assumptions

Many theories are based around what "humans" need in order to survive therefore we assume that others need the same...

But we do not truthfully know the exact composition of the environments that other lifeforms need to survive, we can only surmise and it wouldn't be the first time that we got things wrong.....

A million nasty, acid spitting aliens might only need a little water and a dusty red planet. ....H.R. Giger was in the know......

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Headmaster

Re: Assumptions

I though these were bioweapons created to do something nasty to humans or something?

In that case, "Intelligent Design!"

The problem with Mars is that it's passive. You need an environment that allows self-assembly with ratchet effects over long timespans so that complex-enough implementations of computationally-capable and environmentally-interacting machinery arise. A frozen entropized dustball which does not with the free energy that it gets from the Sun ain't particularly amenable to that.

But the landscape is cool.

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Re: Assumptions

Good point. The life on Mars might have been quite unlike us.

It might have been green, or have a hardened skin for protection, or comfortable in a cold climate - or spoken in a whispery voice....

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Boffin

Re: Assumptions

Yes those are the assumptions but you know what? Carbon and water behave the same everywhere in the universe, that's why the laws of physics - and thus the emergent properties known as chemistry - are called "universal".

This means that the complex molecules (amino acids, hormones etc) etc required to enable complex organisms like us to evolve are still going to be reliant on the ability of carbon to link stuff up in an almost infinite variety of ways and water to dissolve just about anything and hold it in solution.

The organisms thus produced don't have to be human. There's foxes, dogs, cats, eagles, Piers Morgan, to name but a few.

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So... what happened to te water?

If Mars did have water what the hell happened to it?

It is possible that Mars' gravity is too weak and the water molecules (or parts thereof) slowly drifted off into space,. But that would then just pose the opposite question:...

If Mars is not a stable environment for water, then how did it form in the first place?

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Re: So... what happened to te water?

The latest theory I heard was that mars used to have a magnetic field, which it doesn't now.

So the theory goes, mars had a molten core after it formed, and for a billion years or so after.

Once the core cooled and solidified, as mars is much smaller than earth, the magnetic field collapsed.

Once that happened, the state wind could start to strip the atmosphere, gases and water from the martian surface.

Eventually leaving the barren rock we know and love.

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Pint

Re: So... what happened to te water?

Water comes from cometary impacts, mostly. There's solar masses of the stuff out there (a post-supernova recombination of solar masses of hydrogen and oxygen should give you a warm sauna feeling)

Planets just have to present a big enough target until all the comets have been hoovered up.

Indeed, the solar system may be particularly devoid of water, it could well be that most planets out there are "water planets" with no emerging land at all.

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Re: So... what happened to te water?

Heh, that would be solar wind, not state.

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Windows

Re: So... what happened to te water?

Isn't cooling a ferrous metal in a magnetic field one of the methods for producing a permenent magnet? I realise the molen material is itself the source of the magnetism but it's going to solidify from the edges in, stands to reason that those edges would become magnetised and later be the magnet for the rest of it as it solidifies.

That would leave a humungous magnet inside a spinning mars which should still be producing a field.

Except that didn't happen so I think the field is likely produced by convection currents within the core, and those currents stop long before it starts solidifying, leaving a denagnetised ball of metal. I assume the flip flopping of Earths field indicates the same will eventually happen here, stopping halfway through a flip to leave the Earth to be ravaged by the solar wind.

I suppose if you build big enough coils at Mar's poles, you might link the fields through the ferrous core and create an artificial field just big enough to retain an atomsphere, perhaps something to try when the Sun is due to red giant and swallow the Earth, unless it's easier to simply move the Earth at that point in which case I'd go with that instead.</barely coherent rambling>

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Re: So... what happened to te water?

There's tons of water on Mars, just either frozen at the poles or trapped under the surface. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_on_mars for more details.

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Happy

Importance of base assumptions?

1 - there's is no life on Mars, never was and definitely not now unless we can prove otherwise (please give us lots of money to prove otherwise)

2 - there is thriving life on Mars unless we can prove otherwise (please give us lots of money to set up trading relations or prove otherwise)

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Alien

The only real question is...

What's amanfrommars's take on this?

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Headmaster

US spelling...

Interesting write up and great science. But "sulfur, ...., phosphorus"? Don't you love that US spelling consistency for science matters? At least we Brits had to accommodate centuries of legacy.

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Pint

Re: US spelling...

"At least we Brits had to accommodate centuries of legacy."

Well, until y'all decided that four quarts wasn't enough to make a gallon, added another quart and then redefined the quart to be 40 ounces. So much for legacy at least in liquid measures. Then again, you lot get a much better pint so perhaps we should see about adding a quart to your gallon and redefining a quart to be 48 ounces or just two step it and call a quart 1.5 lit[re,er]s... oh wait, if we did that Mayor Bloomberg would see to it drinks were bought a teaspoon at a time. Never mind, they'll just start pouring a 2" head anyway.

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Re: US spelling...

I guess when the UK can send a Mars rover, you can spell things however you like.

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Trollface

Re: US spelling...

We can just pretend your rover is ours.

Kinda like you do with our language.

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Pint

Re: US spelling...

The US gallon is based on the "wine gallon" while the "imperial gallon" is based on the "beer gallon". No doubt the wine gallon was preferred as it was smaller, and thus more American...

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Headmaster

Re: @tankboy - without us it would of crashed dear boy

Qinetiq, a tech company based in Hampshire, built the transceiver which transmits for the Mars Express the signals from the MSI through entry, descent and landing on the planet were sent via UK tech.

The high performance imaging sensors installed in Curiosity’s Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) and Chemistry & Camera instrument (CheCam) were designed and built by Chelmsford-based technology company e2v

And not forgetting our scientists

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Joke

Without us it would have crashed dear boy

"And not forgetting our scientists"

Wasn't Wernher Von Braun German?

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Alien

"Silicon-based organisms"?

Such as a Horta?

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Silicon-based life

is an interesting fantasy, but because of chemistry, silicon life cannot exist. Silicon, while in the same period as carbon, cannot form the huge molecule chains required to establish and sustain life. A common example is the silicon equivalent of the alkane series: methane -> silane, ethane -> disilane, propane -> [does not exist]. Attempts to create a silicon equivalent of propane, butane and so on inevitably result in the silicon-based molecules instantly breaking down into silane and disilane, even in any conceivable conditions such as high pressures or cryogenic temperatures.. Since silicon cannot form even these simple molecules, it obviously cannot even begin to form the huge protein chains required to establish a living organism.,

Carbon is the only element on the entire periodic table that can form such huge and complex molecule chains. As a result, all life in the universe is either carbon-based, or is artificial 'life' (e.g. sentient robots/computers) originally created by carbon-based life.

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Anonymous Coward

Clay Content? Neutral pH?

Oh, good heavens.! They've discovered kitty litter!

Let the mining operations begin.

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Alien

Re: Silicon-based life

Well, we don't really know what can come out of a quark star...

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Paris Hilton

Re: Silicon-based life

I think they meant SiliconE based life.

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Happy

Re: Clay Content? Neutral pH?

Oh, good heavens.! They've discovered kitty litter!

Let the mining operations begin.

Don't be silly. We just build rockets, and send all the bloody cats to Mars. No one'll miss 'em - the birds will be happy, and everything will be just tickety-boo.

As a bonus, all that horrible cat poo and fur balls will help to create topsoil for the terraforming project. And if there is any life left on Mars, the cats will kill it for us. Probably torturing it a bit first. No acid spitting alien can be any more vicious than your average cat...

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I think you're on to something there

Cute lil kitty cat + xenomorph -> Cute lil kitty cat + puddle of acid

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Re: Silicon-based life

"As a result, all life in the universe is either carbon-based, or is artificial 'life' "

That's so corporealcist! Won't someone think of the organised energy patterns?!

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Re: Silicon-based life

A more plausible alternate life chemistry - albeit a very smelly one - is one based on the substitution of sulphur for oxygen in organic molecules.

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Devil

Re: I think you're on to something there

And then in a few million years time the mutant Martian super-cats will come back and enslave us.

Giving cats space craft and robotics is madness; it is only their lack of opposable thumbs which stops them taking over.

I don't think this has been thought through properly

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Anonymous Coward

same old story ...

Sorry, but sulphur, phosphorus, carbon, "it was probably wet, maybe with water" and "could have" are scientific proof of nothing.

Still no direct, or indirect, evidence of complex hydrocarbons, which could prove the existence of a more complex chemical process, which, in turn, could be circumstantially associated with metabolic processes normally associated here on planet Earth with life.

In other words, nothing new that we didn't already know last week.

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Re: same old story ...

You're actually sorely mistaken there..

Up until now all the evidence we had pro/con water on ancient Mars was close up pics of geologically interesting looking rocks which indicated that they *may* have been formed in the presence of water. The result of this experiment shows that the sample was indeed from a piece of fossil clay. Note the term "clay" , which only forms in the presence of water.

Since this is fossil clay, any complex hydrocarbons will have broken down a long, long time ago. Besides, this particular experiment does not test for complex hydrocarbons, but elementary composition, so it would never find them to begin with. You'd need some form of HPLC to detect and classify hydrocarbon chains.

What is encouraging, is that the elements found are the ones that are essential for life as we understand it. As more drillings are performed, and a baseline of the presence of those elements in various rocks can be made, we may be able to see if the clay-samples hold more of those particular elements than can be expected from barren clay, which in turn would be an indication that Something in there was hoarding those elements. Not exactly proof of "life", but another step in the right direction.

Not "same old story" but in fact a decent leap in the really difficult chain of evidence that our neighbour may have once harboured life.

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Ru
Facepalm

Re: same old story ...

"This is merely evidence that our previous theories weren't wrong, therefore it was a stupid boring waste of time"

You don't really understand much about science, do you?

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