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 …

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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Robin
    Go

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. philbo
        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

    2. cnapan

      Re: What Are We Waiting For?

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

      1. RAMChYLD
        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.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: What Are We Waiting For?

          But Bronies are Good For You and promote Friendship!

        2. Brangdon
          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.

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: What Are We Waiting For?

      FUND IT!

      Oort Cloud Mining Now for Better Lebensraum!

    4. Lee D Silver badge

      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.

      1. Colin 4
        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.

  3. Andus McCoatover
    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...

    )

    1. dotdavid
      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...

      1. TheRealRoland
        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...

  4. Ragequit

    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.

  5. ecofeco Silver badge
    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?

  6. Jason Hindle

    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.

    1. Uffish

      Optimistic realist

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

  7. Khaptain Silver badge
    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......

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      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.

    2. graeme leggett

      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....

    3. Lallabalalla
      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.

  8. Charles Manning

    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?

    1. David Dawson

      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.

      1. David Dawson

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

        Heh, that would be solar wind, not state.

      2. jubtastic1
        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>

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      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.

    3. SD24576

      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.

  9. All names Taken
    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)

  10. 2FishInATank
    Alien

    The only real question is...

    What's amanfrommars's take on this?

  11. Jim Wilkinson
    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.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      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.

      1. kleinman
        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...

    2. Tank boy
      Thumb Down

      Re: US spelling...

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Trollface

        Re: US spelling...

        We can just pretend your rover is ours.

        Kinda like you do with our language.

      2. ukgnome
        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

        1. David Pollard
          Joke

          Without us it would have crashed dear boy

          "And not forgetting our scientists"

          Wasn't Wernher Von Braun German?

  12. Mayday
    Alien

    "Silicon-based organisms"?

    Such as a Horta?

    1. Steven Roper

      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.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Silicon-based life

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

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Silicon-based life

        I think they meant SiliconE based life.

      3. The Serpent

        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?!

      4. Fink-Nottle

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Clay Content? Neutral pH?

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

      Let the mining operations begin.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        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...

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          I think you're on to something there

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

          1. Dexter
            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

  13. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Grikath

      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.

    2. 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?

    3. The Real Tony Smith
      WTF?

      Re: 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.'

      You are quite right, but....

      Statements like these make more funding available

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "inorganic life"?

    That's scary!

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "inorganic life"?

      I assume this is like inorganic chemistry and so non-carbon based life. Not so scary unless they start eating your chips to survive, computer chips that is. One might go so far as to say they'd eat your face-book.

    2. D@v3
      Alien

      Re: "inorganic life"?

      Replicators?

  15. samlebon23
    Happy

    So, when do we move?

  16. arrbee
    Alien

    And, right on cue, there is a comet heading for a collision with Mars next year !

    CAN THIS BE COINCIDENCE ???

    ( yes )

  17. Camilla Smythe

    It's a bust..

    "We got really excited about seeing a *CO2 spike*," he said, "but we're still deconvoluting the spectrograph information. There's what look like nitrogen compounds in there and a fair bit of hydrogen chloride, showing chlorine not only as chloromethane but also as *hydrochloric acid*."

    Ex Martian and his Mates went out for lager on the town followed by a nice vindaloo and chundered.

  18. Kurt 4
    FAIL

    Concrapulations, my sock could have supported life as well before they went through the spin cycle. We wasted decades on the space station and rovers we should have a Hotel and McDonald's on mars by now.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Facepalm

      > Land on Mars while on a trip to the Jupiter Hilton with the missus.

      > Decide to go to the Golden Arches for a quick Terraburger.

      > Find take-away litter and polystyrene packaging all over Chryse Planitia.

      > Disgusted, turn around.

      > Nearly get run down by a Jabba-The-Hut-Sized mall dweller in a nuclear powered rover.

      The Face When!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm

    Now why would an "intelligent Designer" plant these things on another planet?

    A planet not "designed" to natively support mankind.

    Hmmmm.

    [thinks]

    I know!

    Intelligent Design is all bullshit.

    1. JonP
      Alien

      Re: Hmmmm

      Prototyping?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmm

      LOOK AT ME!! LOOK AT ME!!! I'M AN ATHIEST

  20. Nick Davey
    Coat

    John Carter?

    Water on Mars.... perhaps Edgar Rice Burrows was more of an historian than a fiction writer after all.......

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I said it before, I'll say it again...

    'After weeks of drilling, we conclude that, yes, this is definitely Mars!'

  22. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge
    Boffin

    water-rounded stones

    The article mentions stones which appear to have been rounded by water flowing over/around them. How can we be sure that they were rounded by water? I would have thought that there are many liquids which contain hydrogen and oxygen (and/or the other elements that Curiosity found evidence of) which would have a similar eroding effect.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: water-rounded stones

      maybe space pixies carefully rounded each stone

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: water-rounded stones

        Science hasn't disproven the existence of pixies. If pixies manage to slip through dimensions, that would explain why they have never been caught...

  23. ukgnome

    What next for the plucky nuke droid?

    Yup, it has found wet sand, it has scoops.

    Ladies, Martians and gentlemen - welcome to the 1st official Mars sandcastle contest.

  24. Barely legible
    Go

    Simple

    Create a penal colony there; we could call it ‘Marzipen’

    Send all the ne'er-do-wells, villains and speeding fine dodgers. Give it a couple of hundred years and bingo we will be drinking beer and watching sports there like any other civilised nation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple

      >Create a penal colony there; we could call it ‘Marzipen’

      >

      >Send all the ne'er-do-wells, villains and speeding fine dodgers. Give it a couple of hundred years and bingo >we will be drinking beer and watching sports there like any other civilised nation.

      You mean like Australia????

      Anon because I've actually in Sydney on holiday at the moment (and yes its a bloody amazing city :-)

  25. Mark C 2
    Megaphone

    Re: Hmmmm

    Agree. It is the same as the belief in fairies, pixies, ghosts and all religions.

  26. Mister_C
    WTF?

    "we're still deconvoluting the spectrograph information"

    Deconvoluting. My new favourite word, ever.

    Does that mean interpreting? Or did I misinterpret?

    Or simplifying? Or did I over simplify?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: "we're still deconvoluting the spectrograph information"

      I think you've oversimplificated your misinterpretization of their deconvolutions there....

  27. tempemeaty
    Thumb Up

    It should be interesting to see what NASA's next step from here will be.

    Alright, got the chemistry found in the rocks to show it could have supported life to add to the knowledge water once was present on Mars. Now that this is out of the way I hope it opens the door they need to allow for actually looking at the really interesting stuff they've been caught running from a lot lately.

  28. Fuzzy Duck
    FAIL

    absolutely nothing to see

    just nasa trying to justify their ridiculous budget....they have proved absolutely nothing. again.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: absolutely nothing to see

      I don't think they need to justify the ridiculous budget at all. It's already made from fumes and gas.

  29. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    meteorite?

    "Curiosity will have to drill more sample to make sure the rock drilled isn't a meteorite"

    Wouldn't that be unlucky! Especially if it was of terrestrial origin ;-)

    1. tempemeaty

      Re: meteorite?

      It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they tried to drill every rock on the planet just to be sure before moving on with things. m(_ _)m

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