back to article NASA's Curiosity puts cat among the climate pigeons: Lack of CO2 sinks water theory

Data from NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars has left scientists scratching their heads. On the one hand, the bot appears to have found evidence that water once flowed on Mars, but on the other hand, the readings suggest there couldn't have been. The problem stems from carbon dioxide, or rather the lack of it. Curiosity has been …

  1. Sampler

    Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

    Just sayin'...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

      exactly, and I'm happy others can see that, too.

      NASA scientists need to get their collective heads out of their "man-made-climate-change" asses and look at REAL SCIENCE instead of desperately seeking for proof of the PSEUDO-science, specifically for evidence on Mars to fit their inaccurate models.

      instead, the model should FIT THE DATA.

      And then the mystery will be solved!

      Perhaps it was the WATER VAPOR in the atmosphere that kept the planet warm, back when it had enough of an atmosphere to allow for liquid water on the surface AND clouds in air.

      1. FascistNewsisFake

        Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

        Climate science is pseudo science? Another climate change denier I see. You believe in a static earth don't you?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

          "Another climate change denier I see. You believe in a static earth don't you?"

          NO, I believe in _REAL_ science. And if you continue to be a "MMGW is pseudo-science" DENIER, then take a peek at THIS:

          NOAA Scientists manipulated temperature data

          yeah, the U.S. gummint is NOW part of "the conspiracy" of MAN MADE GLOBAL WARMING.

          So is it ANY surprise that NASA scientists would be DESPERATELY SEEKING 'proof' on Mars?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

            Can I respectfully suggest that the Mail on Sunday is not a journal in which a rational person would place much faith. It's sort of pathetic how as the evidence mounts up and the ice melts, the only thing the paid climate denier shills can do is shout louder. Basically science doesn't care about your conspiracy theories*. It cares about careful observation, careful analysis and what actually happens.

            * Actually I guess the psychologists might. Have you ever thought about why this makes you, personally, so angry? Do you own an oil well, or are you trying to sell beach front real estate? If not, why are you angry about this and not about the many and myriad places where really bad things are being done with your money?

            1. John 104

              Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

              @AC

              The Register ran similar articles regarding the massaged data some years ago. Of course, this was back when El Reg was a tech site..

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

          Yes climate change 'science' is pseudo science.

          Promoted by journalists and frightened people who have little understanding of the complexities.

        3. just_me

          Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

          Umm... CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas! (Newsflash for those who are swallowing the political line). Top 3 greenhouse gasses, from strongest to weakest are: Methane(CH4), Water(H20), Carbon Dioxide(C02). - you can even look that up!

          You can even bother to look these up below:

          Concentration of Methane is in parts per billion, not parts per million - so it doesn't even factor in.

          Carbon Dioxide is currently listed around 400ppm.

          Water is highly variable - but at 37% humidity and 70degrees F, or 21.1 degrees Celsius - comes in at about 9,200ppm.

          Therefore:

          Water is both a significantly stronger greenhouse gas AND comes in significantly higher concentrations. So much so, that Carbon Dioxide is a non-player.

          I think you may have meant to say 'flat earth' not 'static earth', because the 'Climate' always changes and to believe otherwise would mean you believe in a 'static earth'!

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

        5. just_me

          Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

          umm.. this posting is still running as 'current'?

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

        Random commentards telling others on how science is done in an unironic way. Then a paragraph starts with "perhaps".

        tired_and_annoyed_pepe.jpg

      3. Patrician

        Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

        Man made climate change is "pseudo-science"? Sorry, you've just invalidated any comments you post on science threads.

      4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Flame

        @bob Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

        Well, the scientists will get on with doing science and trying to unravel this conundrum, while you . . . will continue bloviating with baseless speculation in a tedious fashion.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: @bob Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

          Mention Carbon or CO2 and it's like a flame to the moths.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Carbons not the only greenhouse gas

      Space cows!

    3. Faux Science Slayer

      There is NO GREENHOUSE GAS....

      No gas molecule can can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy. On Earth, ALL water is fission byproduct.... likely the same on earlier Mars.

      "Spencer Sorcery on Magic Gas" and "Earth's Missing Geothermal Flux" both at FauxScienceSlayer

      1. Chris 239

        Re: There is NO GREENHOUSE GAS....

        @Faux Science dumbnuts

        "All water is fission product"!! WTF are you talking about!!!!!

  2. Terje

    if we are looking at liquid water wouldn't the most likely greenhouse gas in the absence of carbon dioxide be water?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The catch is that the air pressure on the surface of Mars is only around 600 Pa. That's near water's Triple Point of 273K & 611Pa. And since the surface temperature of Mars right now is well below 273K, and that the surface temperature has mostly gone UP over history, this would suggest no possibility of liquid water being on Mars (below the Triple Point pressure-wise, a substance would sublimate and deposit directly between solid and vapor as temperature varied). This isn't just a matter of temperature but of pressure as well. In order for liquid water to have existed on the surface of Mars, the atmospheric pressure down there MUST have exceeded 611 Pa at some point. When if ever was it that way, and what were the component gasses that weighed down and provided that pressure?

      1. Terje

        We are not talking about todays atmosphere but that of 3.5 billion years ago which was supposedly a lot thicker. (I'm assuming the 3.5 million stated in the article is a typo as there's no way that there were significant amounts of liquid water that late.)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          It would not only have to be much thicker but also contain lots of greenhouse gases (in order to take the surface temperature above freezing of 273K, a very consistent quality concerning ice). Catch is, most greenhouse gases we know like carbon dioxide and methane contain carbon in them, which would then be dissolved in the water to produce carbonates, which as the article notes are conspicuously missing. There aren't that many alternatives, perhaps ozone and dinitrogen monoxide. There's also the question of what happened to...whatever they were.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            "most greenhouse gases we know like carbon dioxide and methane"

            you forgot WATER (the 'other' greenhouse gas, the one nobody wants to remember)

          2. just_me

            You forgot that water is a greenhouse gas too!

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

          And that is the entire question : what was in it ? Because apparently it wasn't carbon dioxide.

          So the situation is :

          1) there has been liquid water on Mars

          2) for water to become liquid, there has to be a certain amount of atmospheric pressure and a certain temperature

          3) the Sun was never hot enough to provide the temperature component, so there had to be greenhouse gas involved

          4) evidence suggests that carbon dioxide is not that gas

          It is a conundrum, no doubt about that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

            You fall down at 1.

            They assume there had been liquid water because theyinterpret surface features through a model based on the geological processes that take place on earth. It has coloured their thinking.

            They should be asking "what can cause this? ", but instead they're asking "how can we make this fit our supposition?" That is a dangerous path for science.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

              "They assume there had been liquid water because theyinterpret surface features through a model based on the geological processes that take place on earth."

              OK, there are surface features which suggest the presence of a liquid. What liquid?

              1. Swarthy Silver badge
                Alien

                Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

                Liquid water is not always entirely water.

                I seem to recall that water heavily doped with perchlorates can remain liquid(-ish) even in martian-type environments, and a fair bit of perchlorate-type chemistry had been discovered on Mars.

                I find myself wondering if there could have been some Chlorine-based gasses that could act as a warming blanket.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

                  "I find myself wondering if there could have been some Chlorine-based gasses that could act as a warming blanket."

                  As I recall, Venus has sulfuric acid clouds causing its thermal effects. so yeah, good point.

              2. annodomini2

                Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

                In regards to the water conundrum, there are large swathes of water ice on Mars:

                Water ice on Mars

                Which would suggest if the temperature were high enough it would be liquid.

                Now what evidence do we have of the surface pressure of the atmosphere on Mars at that time?

                The evidence presented suggests a low concentration of Carbon molecules in the atmosphere, but it does not state the pressure, which suggests we do not know.

                It is widely suggested that the solar wind has stripped Mars of it's atmosphere.

                If the atmospheric pressure was higher on Mars (potentially supported with ground sourced energy) it may have had liquid water, the observational evidence certainly suggests it did.

            2. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

              "They assume there had been liquid water because theyinterpret surface features"

              there is other evidence as well, the frozen tidal bulges being the most compelling. I can't remember exactly where I heard about that, but it was based on the detection of possible subterranean (or subMARSenean) ice using some method of detection from orbit. Apparently there's a bit of a 'bulge' around the equator in the thickness of the ice that suggests tidal bulges. But even if that's completely wrong, there's a lot of other evidence as well, much of which is discussed here:

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_ocean_hypothesis

              (yeah wikipedia, but it has references)

          2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

            Alien refrigerators, releasing Freons!

            Mars as the space dump? Dig deep enough and we will find crap, I say.

          3. Long John Brass Silver badge

            Re: "which was supposedly a lot thicker"

            About 3) Why does it have to be the sun doing the heating?

            at 3.5B years ago; couldn't the heat source be the residual heat from the planets formation?

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        "When if ever was it that way, and what were the component gasses that weighed down and provided that pressure?"

        well, it's all conjecture for sure. you have canyons and what not that were apparently cut by flowing liquids (assumed to be water). And you have frozen water underground in places that suggest that tidal bulges were at one time present on mars, suggesting the presence of oceans. Of course we'd need a time machine to go back a few million years (let's say), but then there's the discussion of how Mars may have had a thicker atmosphere: The same way EARTH does.

        a) volcanic activity putting gasses into the atmosphere (generally absent on Mars now)

        b) a strong magnetic field preventing solar wind from blowing all of the atmosphere away (not so much on Mars, now)

        Mars has sufficient gravity (as I understand it) to supprt an atmosphere, but without 'a' and 'b', it slowly dwindles to the point it is now. That's the theory, anyway. It's a good model, because it fits the data. And, so does WATER VAPOR as a greenhouse gas, keeping the temperatures up. You know, like on a cloudy night on earth, it's WARM. The water vapor IS a greenhouse gas, and the word 'perhaps' was in my original paragraph as a tweek. In fact, I've made the claim that water vapor (because of infrared absorption spectra and its concentration in earth's atmosphere) has up to 100 TIMES THE EFFECT of CO2. CO2 _does_ work on Mars, because CO2 absorbs IR for temperatures below about -50 (C or F, pick one) extremely well, but for temperatures ABOVE that, it's as clear as glass (and has very little effect).

        Anyway, this hyperfocus on CO2 being a greenhouse gas is the major FLAW in their theory.

        1. Graham Newton

          So if CO2 is as clear as glass at IR wavelengths at above -50 degree C how do you explain Venus which has a 96% CO2 atmosphere and is a lot hotter than it should be?

          1. just_me

            Hotter than it should be? How about being significantly closer to the sun, how about being effectively tidally locked? How about NOT having water, but sulfuric acid? Remember at 400ppm, that translates to 0.04%, 97% translates to 970,000ppm.

      3. the spectacularly refined chap

        The catch is that the air pressure on the surface of Mars is only around 600 Pa. That's near water's Triple Point of 273K & 611Pa. And since the surface temperature of Mars right now is well below 273K, and that the surface temperature has mostly gone UP over history...

        Be wary of extrapolating averages into universal facts. The average pressure on Mars is indeed too low to support liquid water, however there are a number of deep land lows where the pressure is substantially higher, well over 1000Pa in places. Similarly, the temperature is a little low on average, but we know that the temperature e.g. at noon on the equator is warm enough to be quite comfortable even in a t-shirt and shorts. These are well established facts derived from actual measurements, not theory. On your own premises they are enough to dismiss your concrete assertion of "no possibility of liquid water being on Mars".

    2. Meerkatjie

      Water vapour is a short term greenhouse gas that relies on temperature and pressure to determine how much of it is active. CO2 and other greenhouse gases are not reliant on temperature and pressure to determine how much of it is active. That is the reason why we try to limit our CO2 production rather than our H2O production.

      Water vapour could have been the greenhouse gas but then we would need something else driving the temperature and pressure up. Maybe Mars' core was a highly radioactive, short half-life, very dense element that artificially drove up the temperature and gravity but now no longer exists but was enough to cause water vapour to be the greenhouse gas.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        "That is the reason why we try to limit our CO2 production rather than our H2O production."

        You miss the humor in that statement. HOW can you LIMIT H2O PRODUCTION (atmospheric H2O I assume) when H2O _FLOODS_ the planet? 3/4 is covered by water, last I looked...

        And have you looked at the infrared absorption spectrum of CO2 lately? I don't see it absorbing ANY IR ENERGY above about -50 deg (F or C). Not very effective holding in the FROZEN TEMPERATURES, except maybe to keep Antarctica from getting frozen CO2 snow like Mars might get on occasion...

      2. just_me

        All of the water that is in the gas phase is active. This can be related through partial pressures or even humidity level (% humidity). As a gas, water is very simply a greenhouse gas - no complexities. Water changes from a greenhouse gas to a much more complex behavior when it condenses into clouds - becomes rain etc. The process releases a significant amount of energy in the phase change, much more than raising its temperature from 0C to 100C (over 5 times the amount). Therefore water is also capable of transporting 'heat' energy to the upper atmosphere to be radiated as blackbody radiation into space through evaporation followed by condensation. Clouds also reflect from IR to visible light radiation (yes, IR is part of the EM spectrum that includes what we humans can see as visible - just sits on the longer wavefront end). This reflection includes reflection from the sun back into space, as well as IR radiation from the ground back to the ground. Carbon Dioxide and Water as a gas work by absorbing IR radiation - not reflecting. Water is the 'wild child' in the equation, and can't be dismissed so easily.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Excellent result.

    Yes it looks like they are missing something.

    Which suggests we are about to discover something new to add to climate models for all planets.

    I will note 2 points.

    Below triple point water sublimes from solid to vapour but doesn't water vapour act as a greenhouse gas, even if it's not "concentrated" into droplets?

    How deep would carbonate deposits have to be to be invisible from space? Is there enough time for that cover to blown over or otherwise form on them?

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Looking at the photo of the sedimented lake bed, I wonder if they have modeled alternatives to the formation of that feature in the rock. Maybe it is just sediment from past wind blown dust that has been buried and under huge pressures for millions of years and then exposed and eroded by wind and extreme temperature changes to form a feature that looks like a lake bed.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      " Maybe it is just sediment from past wind blown dust that has been buried and under huge pressures for millions of years and then exposed and eroded by wind and extreme temperature changes to form a feature that looks like a lake bed."

      I'm not sure if it's possible for a wind-blown deposit to look like a lake bed. Dunes lead to cross-bedding which is pretty distinctive, see the pictures in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-bedding . I'm not familiar with loess but the same source suggests it's not stratified: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loess . Possibly wind-blown deposition effects could happen on Mars but I'd expect that these two would be readily recognisable to geologists.

  6. 0laf Silver badge

    Mars' gravity is a fair bit lower than earth, would that not effect these dropstones any anything other artefacts from falling objects?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Any Martian dropstones presumably would have been ice-wedged off local rock outcroppings, fall onto the lake ice, and eventually get thru the ice and to the bottom. If the ice sheet moves at all (which can happen) then the stones can be transported some distance before deposition. Also glaciers can carry stones, but the glacier must then be floated on liquid water in order to achieve a proper dropstone effect.

      Volcano bombs can also become dropstones, with or without ice over the liquid water.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dropstone

  7. Annihilator
    Coat

    Complicate theories

    Let's keep it simple. Let's just have a theory that Mars had still water. Let's not overcomplicate things trying to prove it was sparkling water that had been through some giant cosmic Sodastream.

  8. David Roberts Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great science.

    Found something that current theory can't explain.

    Hopefully they will either find that current climate models need updating or there is an alternative to water in the lake formation. Or something else.

    Noted the impact on current climate models!

  9. Adam Foxton

    So it's an environment with different temperatures and pressures. 3.5Bn years ago. What's to say that the greenhouse effect would work in the same way as on Earth as it is?

    Also, how can we find out what materials they DID discover? That seems like it could be much more interesting...

  10. Octavo

    Orbital change?

    Since we're talking billions of years ago and since some newer theories of solar system formation have Jupiter moving around quite a bit, could Mars not simply have been in an orbit closer to the Sun, thus explaining both the liquid water evidence and the lack of expected carbonites?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Orbital change?

      If that were so, then the Earth would also have had to be in a smaller orbit in order to have stability. I bet a lot of other related planetary theories would also need adjusting. It might be true, but it would not be simple.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Orbital change?

      I was thinking similar thoughts. We really don't know all that much and what we do know is based on local knowledge which include molten core, magnetosphere, large amounts of water and a thick atmosphere.

      Other have mentioned that the liquid may not have been water, or at least a water solution we might not have looked for yet, but Mars has suffered at least one enormous collision with another object. Maybe a water ice comet? There a multiple possibilities but then that's what science is about. Proposing hypothesis which may fit the facts, then gathering the facts, and more facts, and seeing if we can make a theory that fits, adjusting the theory when new facts emerge.

      Some commentards, one shouty one in particular, doesn't seem to understand the difference between hypothesis, theory and facts, let alone the relationship between them. I may have just posted a load of rubbish above. I don't claim to be a scientist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Orbital change?

        Our observations have shown that our current theories about Mars are somewhat flawed. So this is the best time to hypothesize! A chap named Immanuel Velikovsky would concur.

  11. wolfetone Silver badge
    Trollface

    Why are we even guessing?

    Send someone back to the moon with some shortbread and speak to the aliens living there, and ask them if they know whats going on with Mars.

  12. FascistNewsisFake

    Maybe the rain was very acidic and dissolved any carbonates and redeposited them deeper in the subsurface like caliche.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Good thought but from the link, "The other minerals, such as magnetite and clay minerals, also provide evidence that subsequent conditions never became so acidic that carbonates would have dissolved away, as they can in acidic groundwater."

  13. EmilPer.

    "heat the surface using a greenhouse effect"

    "heat the surface using a greenhouse effect"

    greenhouse gases don't heat the surface, they only delay cooling

  14. Zmodem

    the core was too dense for the planet size and burn't it self out, which made little green men 4 feet tall, and the massive gravity created the heat and friction

  15. Valarian

    Orbital Disruption

    Conjecture: Mars orbited closer to the Sun a couple of billion years or so back and thus had a warm surface and liquid water. An impact or extremely strong gravitational encounter with another sizeable body disrupted Mars' orbit causing total ecological failure, and it ended-up a dead world in its' current orbit. The disintegrated bits of the encounter body now circle between Mars and Jupiter.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Orbital Disruption

      thats a fairy tale ending, mars had water, and a civilization all caught on camera, there is also a sign of war, which would be the magnetosphere calapsing when the core burn't itself out

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Orbital Disruption

      not a bad theory. any proof other than what you stated?

  16. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    our own correspondent

    Where is our own coorespondent, the man for mars?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: our own correspondent

      He's on a different time schedule.

  17. cray74

    Materials perspective

    What's the stability of carbonate minerals over billions of years of exposure to near-vacuum conditions and high UV bombardment?

    I ask because materials are never static, they just have degrees of stability - it was a key lesson in my corrosion projects. Everything corrodes - i.e., experiences environmentally induced degradation. Iron, concrete, aluminum, plastics all have their differing forms of environmental degradation. The same goes for rocks. Zircons weather well and tell use about the dawn of Earth but may be mechanically reduced to little specks in igneous and metamorphic rocks. Meanwhile, carbonate minerals in Earth's aggressive environment erode, chemically alter, and redeposit on timescales of human history.

    Mars is a much less aggressive environment, but it's not necessarily one to guarantee carbonate minerals will stay in place for 3.8 billion years. Do the studies regularly address that potential weathering?

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Materials perspective

      That's why they are drilling to rocks, to get samples unaffected near-vacuum and radiation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Materials perspective

      "Mars is a much less aggressive environment"

      I think you need to define 'aggressive' in this context. In terms of ionising radiation, Mars is a far more aggressive environment, and ionising radiation is a good at breaking down compounds. But this then begs the question: if earlier carbonate minerals have been broken down, where is the Carbon?

      I'd still like to know how all the iron oxide ended up on the surface - although the oxygen could have come from either an atmosphere or surface water it's difficult to identify a large enough source of surface iron. I don't think that there'd be enough meteoritic iron to account for it all (it seems unlikely that Mars received a significantly greater proportion meteoric iron than any other body, Earth included) and volcanic activity in the past doesn't seem to be a candidate either - the volcanoes are still there and, afaik, they don't show high concentrations of iron.

  18. Red Bren

    Did Mars still have a molten core 3 million years ago? The magnetic field would have protected a thicker martian atmosphere from ablation by the solar wind.

    1. TVU Silver badge

      "Did Mars still have a molten core 3 million years ago? The magnetic field would have protected a thicker martian atmosphere from ablation by the solar wind."

      During the Pre-Noachian and Noachian periods on Mars (3.7 billion Earth years and earlier), it's highly probable that Mars had a liquid core because that was also when the huge volcanoes were active and the two go together. At that time, Mars also had a protective magnetosphere too and we know that because residual magnetism has been detected that has been imprinted in rocks (similar to what happens on Earth). Not only that, there were enormous energy injections to Mars from the huge impacts that gave rise to the great Argyre, Hellas and Isidis impact basins on the planet.

      It's not really known whether early Mars was cold, icy and wet, warm and wet or an alternating mixture of the two and that question will probably only be answered by crewed science bases on Mars (like the Antarctic ones) that are able to perform deep drilling operations to see exactly what happened in Mars' past. It's only then that we will have that clearer picture but all that's at least half a century away.

      Mars' real problem is its small mass - it has only one ninth the mass of Earth - so its core cooled down much more quickly and so the both the mass vulcanism and the protective magnetosphere ended. The rest is history as they say which is why that planet is the frozen and inhospitable dry desert world that we see today. Mars probably had only a relatively short window of opportunity at best for life to evolve but if Mars had perhaps been one third the mass of Earth then this solar system might very well have hosted two life-bearing planets.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    options then

    A substance behaving a bit like a liquid may have existed and flowed on Mars in sufficient volume to create the observed features.

    The length of time since this may have happened allows any surface traces to be weathered away or buried in meters of sand/dust.

    The atmosphere has also appeared to have eroded subjecting the surface to an increasingly low pressure and increasingly high level of radiation.

    Any flows may have been long and slow (i.e. glacial) or sudden and fast (e.g. seasonal flooding)

    The latter would not necessarily be around long enough to create deposits in significant quantity to remain in the timescale, regardless of their possible deposition.

    The former, one may imagine, would leave a more obvious terminal moraine of stone/boulders carried with the flows.

    The diagnostic features may now have drifted into space, been pulverised into dust and irradiated, or buried at a more significant depth.

    Or there is a completely different process creating the features, although I remain with the plausible view that there was some kind of flow/erosion going on.

  20. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Fools! All the carbon is sequestered in the buried bodies of hordes of Ice Warriors!

  21. Tikimon Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I LOVE SCIENCE!!!!

    It's simply thrilling to see the new data pouring in from all directions on so many things these days. Those data confirm or destroy hypotheses, answer some questions, and pose others. Mistakes are made, but they are eventually sorted out. Hypotheses rise and fall and we move ever closer to an approximation of the truth.

    I would like to say just "the truth" but a good science geek knows that This Could All Change Tomorrow. If it can't be falsified, it's not a good theory, ya?

  22. Black Rat
    Alien

    Obvious Really

    Our alien lizard overlords wanted more beach-front basking property on Earth so they simply removed the water from Mars. This flowed from the stargate portal at Giza into the Nile and caused the previously unexplained water erosion of the Sphinx enclosure.

  23. Herby Silver badge

    All this means...

    That climate "science" is NOT easy. To simplify it to small arguments and attempt to fit models to your way of thinking just doesn't work. A couple of months ago, I watched a video that purported to have THE solution to making $$$ in the stock market. It was "back tested" and that insured it worked. The problem is that it is very difficult to "forward test" models since they are changed to accommodate the changes observed. Wild predictions of any type based on the past just don't work, they have error bands. You can see it in the way hurricane tracks are shown. The band of prediction becomes wider for each passing day. When was the last time weather predictions were 100% accurate. They come close, but will they tell me that at 3:25pm the rain will start? I have doubts.

    Like "rocket science" predictions of climate are difficult, and anyone who says different is just fooling everyone. Take some with a grain of salt, and look at predictions of 5 years ago, and see how they came out.

    NOT EASY!!

    1. John 104

      Re: All this means...

      @Herby

      No, sorry, you are wrong. Science is easy, just ask any politician. Besides, climate change is settled science, a politician said so and they never lie..

      1. Zmodem

        Re: All this means...

        i don't do predictions, they showed me when i was on the moon looking out a window thinking how rubbish it was, its why alien interview say this is their home and they need your genes, because they are actuall a few billion years old, and still can't make a perpetual generator from a direct drive wind turbine, so they need hydrogen from star sucking motherships

        and its why artifacts of metal and bolts have been found on earth from 800 million+ years ago when carbon dated

        1. Zmodem

          Re: All this means...

          NASA and seti are looking all over the universe for intelligent life, this planet has probably already evoved 2 and a half species

  24. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    3.8 Billion years ago?

    That's quite a while ago - pretty much at the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment The lack of carbonates is intriguing, I wonder if it's possible that Mars had a a different orbit at that time, closer to the Sun?

  25. Palpy

    Mmmm. Volcanoes (eg, Olympus Mons) --

    -- tend to breathe out sulfur compounds and methane, among other things. SO2 is a decent greenhouse gas, though both it and methane should be transient -- in geologic scale timespans, anyway.

    But see NASA Ames for discussion. That site mentions impactors as possible warming agents as well.

    As mentioned, CH4 should be transient in the atmosphere. But how did Titan get so much methane, and how is it being replenished? (Methane concentration grades from 1.4% in the stratosphere to 4.9% near surface.) Could whatever mechanism is operating on Titan now have operated on Mars in the remote past?

    Geology is a subtle science, but if close-up imagery and the analyses returned from Curiosity lead geologists to finger the rocks as water-laid deposits, I would tend to believe geologists' opinions over those of amateurs like myself.

    Over my decades of watching humans exploring the universe, I've noticed that we are often surprised. No one I know of predicted the sulfur volcanoes of Io. No one I know of predicted the variety of hot Jupiters we've discovered. So I am not surprised that we are being surprised by Mars.

  26. Chris 239

    Aren't most of the carbonate rocks on earth Limestone which originates from the skeletons of marine life?

    I guess Nasa knows this and is searching for Carbonates from non biologic sources....

    1. Palpy

      I think that, in the main, you're right.

      I also think that CO2 in an atmosphere (Earth or Mars) participates in weathering of rocks, and also in the formation of carbonate rocks by precipitation.

      On Earth, the marine biosphere is a common path for calcium carbonate to precipitate from solution. Travertine, however, is an example of non-biological deposition of calcium carbonate. Oolitic deposits -- "eggstones" -- are often formed of calcium carbonate, though other minerals can be involved. Oolites are chemically deposited (on Earth) in shallow waters with relatively high chemical concentrations. Oolitic deposits form in the US Great Salt Lake, for example.

      In England, "Portland stone" is oolitic limestone; as is the limestone quarried near Oolitic, Indiana. (Wikipedia for the last little bit.)

      My guess is that similar carbonate precipitates would be more common on worlds where biologic action did not remove carbonate from solution more quickly.

  27. ~mico
    Trollface

    There was carbon dioxide on Mars in the past.

    But it was causing greenhouse effect, and martian environmentalists and global warming fighters succeeded in getting rid of it...

    ...OOPS.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019