back to article Get your WELLIES to MARS: Red Planet reveals its FROZEN BOTTOM

Just 500,000 years ago water was sloshing all over Mars, despite the planet having lost its atmosphere four billion years ago, astroboffins have discovered. In a paper titled "Earth-like aqueous debris-flow activity on Mars at high orbital obliquity in the last million years", and published today in Nature Communications, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Earth-like aqueous debris-flow activity on Mars at high orbital obliquity in the last million years",

    Read I need funding so I'll say anything that gets in the papers.

    "we estimate" - "does this sound good?"

    "earth like liquid flow" - "keep it simple so they funding board can relate"

    "in the last" - "insert a guess, they cant prove anything"

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Mr. NEET, please!

      Also, sandtrout when?

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        after the first spice blow. They will be my skin,


  2. et tu, brute?

    Need boots on Mars...

    To properly investigate these things, we need boots on Mars! Remote investigation is all fine and dandy, and hats off to the scientists who made it possible, but how much easier would it be if we could simply get into a rover, drive to the site that was spotted by the orbiters, and take a closer look?

    Mine is the coat with the built-in air-supply and thick padding, allowing me to stroll outside on a dusty, red plain strewn with reddish rocks...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Need boots on Mars...

      Unfortunately, Mars doesn't need to be made safe for Israel, so it will be some time until these particular frozen dunes are closely investigated.

      1. Alistair Silver badge

        Re: Need boots on Mars...


        However, there *just* might be oil under them there dusty plains. And that means we need pipelines.

        <grumpy old cynic icon>

      2. Fizzle

        Re: Need boots on Mars...


        What he said plus one

  3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Another Reg unit!

    "debris flows occurred at Earth like frequencies" - so "Earth" is a frequency!

    1 Earth = err ... umm ...

    I have no idea what that means! Anyone?

    1. AbelSoul

      Re: "Earth" is a frequency!

      1 Earth = err ... umm ...

      1 olympic-sized-giga-Hertz-car-rental?

      1. choleric

        Re: "Earth" is a frequency!

        Nice spot. The El Reg units table is currently missing a section for frequency.

        The period is one year. Working in metric for a moment that normally works out to be 31356000 seconds.

        So the frequency is 3.17 x 10^-8 Hz to 3sf.

        In proper units though (and who here would ever want to work in anything different?) 1 year is 6.76 x 10^12 lg/SiV (to 3 sig figs) where 1 lg/SiV is the time taken for a sheep traveling at maximum velocity in a vacuum to travel a distance of 1 linguine.

        That allows us to define the frequency of 1 earth as 1.48 x 10^-13 SiV/lg.

        No need to go anywhere near Hertz, which is good because I don't think they have any rental desks on Mars, yet.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: "Earth" is a frequency!

          Frequency measurements must surely be in Beats per Apple.

        2. perlcat

          Re: "Earth" is a frequency!

          I propose the length of time to be in 'KardshianMarriages" -- that's a reasonably long period when talking about seasons.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liquid water is considered essential to the existence of life

    Only as far as we understand it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it."

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Liquid water is considered essential to the existence of life potatoes.

      1. choleric

        Which are essential for chips, which are essential for any high functioning lifeform. So the point stands.

  5. DropBear Silver badge

    Wait, are you saying Mars has just lost its water...? Quick, get the car!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Wet for 1.5Billion years

    As for debris flows there is still the question of dry-lahars to be seriously looked into. Mars (with no ocean or liquid core) rings like a bell when hit by space rocks and as most of the surface is very dry dry lahars move with great ease - and cutting power.

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge

      Re: Wet for 1.5Billion years @ the 7th tom

      "lahars move with great ease - and cutting power."

      They have power cuts on Mars? Colour me shocked! Lahars knicking the copper I presume.

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Wet for 1.5Billion years @ the 7th tom

        The lights go out once per day.

  8. Matthew 17

    Was Mars ever warm enough for this?

    I saw this article the other day that suggests that whilst there was water on the surface of Mars it was always ice.

    Seems plausible to me, unless Mars had a really hot core in the past it was never going to get much energy from the Sun to give it the seas and oceans that are often depicted.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the mysterious loss of its magnetosphere"

    I thought that the loss of the magnetosphere was linked to the solidification of its core. Earth's core is still moving, Mars' isn't. I thought that was the reason.

    Isn't it ?

    1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

      Re: "the mysterious loss of its magnetosphere"

      Yes, it's probably true. And in all likelihood Mars used to have active plate tectonics, the bimodal distribution of land altitude suggests crustal differentiation (continental and oceanic type), but as Mars is so much smaller (heat decay proportionately faster), tectonic activity, volcanic activity and magnetic activity have all ceased. No more water vapour from volcanoes, and no mechanism to retain an atmosphere.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: "the mysterious loss of its magnetosphere"

        Add "no Moon" (no huge one like Earth). That creates a lot of heat inside the Earth by tidal drag, and also stabilizes our axis of rotation. Our moon may well also be a key element in the not-well-understood generation of earth's magnetic field.

        It's also possible that Mars's core is less radioactive than Earth's, because Mars formed further out from the sun and the natural radioactives are less volatile elements. That's a lot less certain.

      2. cyfahead

        Re: "the mysterious loss of its magnetosphere"

        If tidal forces, caused by our large moon, are implicated in sustaining our liquid core and hence magnetosphere I would imagine that you might find some pattern amongst the orientations of subduction zones that can be related in some way to the characteristics of the lunar orbit. Just a thought...

        Another casual observation.... when one lump hits a much more massive lump the transfer off energy involved includes some energy conversion to heat. Question is "Did the impact of the proto-moon into the hot toffee-ball early Earth generate additional thermal input to the the extent that without it, even with subsequent tidal heating of the core by the moon, we might also have cooled off enough by now to have lost our magnetosphere?". In other words, just how likely is a rock ball with our composition to generate its own liquid core without the good fortune of a massive orbiting nearby moon that it has also bumped hard in the past?

        Not just idle thoughts perhaps when considering the chances of exoplanets in goldilocks zones having life-form friendly environments...

  10. Bunbury

    Every inhabitant of Barsoom

    Has had heard rumours of the so called First Men of Barsoom. They live below the lost Sea of Korus; on the Sea of Omean. Protected there from the fierce Green Men of Mars, Issus Goddess of Barsoom ruled, until the day that John Carter Warlord of Barsoom destroyed the temple and his queen, the incomparable Dejah Thoris, was imprisoned for a year in the temple of the sun.

    It's all true I tell you!

    1. Tom Cooke

      Re: Every inhabitant of Barsoom

      Alice, is it possible that everything's true? The fairy tales and horror stories? Is it possible that there isn't anything sane and normal at all?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Every inhabitant of Barsoom

        Define "sane" and "normal"... I'm not familiar with those concepts around these parts.

        1. Martin Budden

          Re: Every inhabitant of Barsoom

          The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well yet.

  11. Schlimnitz

    Fascinating. Makes me wonder: if the same thing happened to earth (core solidifies, loss of magnetosphere, atmosphere then water), would alien scientists be any more able to detect signs of past life on Earth than we are on Mars?

    1. Credas Silver badge

      would alien scientists be any more able to detect signs of past life on Earth than we are on Mars?

      Of course - there'd be billions of pristine McDonald's burgers sitting lonely in the dust!

    2. Nigel 11

      Lots of fossils in our rocks. Some rocks (for example chalk) are all-fossil. But whether they'd have found any fossils after exploring only to the extent that out Mars landers have explored Mars, I don't know.

      The ruins of dams will probably present evidence of intelligent life visible from Earth orbit for some tens of millions of years after the demise of homo sapiens. Inactive geostationary satellites will last for rather longer.

      BTW does anyone know if life on Earth can be deduced by the isotopic ratio of C12 and C13 in the CO2 in our atmosphere? Life selectively excretes C13 to a small extent, and our bodies are C12-enriched. When ocean life dies, it takes C12 to the bottom from where where some of it gets subducted, so the atmosphere must be slightly C13-enriched over the natural abundance. Detectable remotely?

      1. Bunbury

        "Inactive geostationary satellites will last for rather longer"

        They won't be geostationary usually - they'll have done their last fuel burn to move them up to the graveyard orbit. If you leave a satellite in geo orbit without fuel it tends to start doing a figure of 8 about the geostationary point as irregular earth gravity and nearby bodies pull it about a bit. Presumably after a while it might become an increasingly unstable orbit

  12. Stevie Silver badge


    So, about as trustworthy as the descriptions given by Ray Bradbury then?

  13. Fingerless Pyro

    ...the best, and only, crater...

    So, also the worst crater?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Boots on Mars?

    That will save the locals from trekking all the way to Jupiter for their scripts!

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