Amazing, miraculous discoveries!

Ok, so the little Phoenix lander, which is now on Mars, it turning up some pretty interesting stuff.  First off, while there’s been past contention of water on the planet, proof has been scarce.  Now we have confirmed ice, confirmed previous groundwater, and confirmed snow.  I’m not sure exactly about the ‘groundwater’ comment, there were just remarks about calcium carbonate and sheet silicate in the soil, which evidently are ‘known to be formed in liquid water’.  To me that says groundwater, but I’m no scientist.  Regardless, snow actually falling on Mars is pretty cool, especially considering the dry, dusty image I have of the place.  Not quite winter wonderland.

Of course, science is quick to deny any proof of anything.  Some examples:

Soil experiments revealed the presence of two minerals known to be formed in liquid water. Scientists identified the minerals as calcium carbonate, found in limestone and chalk, and sheet silicate.  But exactly how that happened remains a mystery.  “It’s really kind of all up in the air,” said William Boynton, a mission scientist at the University of Arizona at Tucson.

Hm.  I still say groundwater.  Or maybe wild hail formed around a rock, melted, and making all sorts of chemicals, before it hits the ground again.

Or this one:

A laser aboard the Phoenix recently detected snow falling from clouds more than two miles above its home in the northern arctic plains. The snow disappeared before reaching the ground.

Really?  The snow dissappeared?!?!?! That’s freaky.  Seriously.  No snow, ya know?  In this ‘frigid and dry’ environment, what could’ve happened to it, since it never hit the ground?  Hm….

I remain convinced of the coolness of these potential discoveries.  Almost as good as new test ovens.  Yum.


  1. Jack said,

    September 30, 2008 at 11:32 am

    This is just a way for Nasa to get more funding. It’s just like when they claimed they found a rock that came from mars something like 10,000 years ago when an asteroid his Mars and send the rock here to earth. I am all for funding these explorations, but enough with BS discoveries to help get the funding. If people believe this stuff, I have a bridge I can sell them.

  2. sedgehammer said,

    September 30, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Ha. Didn’t that whole bridge phrase come from the London Bridge incident? Stupid Americans…

  3. Dirk said,

    September 30, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Santa was seen off in the distance too. Lame! Give off something good to read.

    Mars and the money to get there is a waste of time.

  4. Paul Roberts said,

    September 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I’m not entirely sure what you are saying here “Hm. I still say groundwater. ”

    Are you wondering if there is water in the ground? Then the answer is yes. Ice has been found in the ground, thus it is “groundwater”. Are you questioning whether there is liquid water near the surface? Well, not at the Phoenix latitude as it is the Maritan arctic & it’s too bloody cold for liquid water. Think of it as Martian permafrost as there is no liquid water in the “groundwater”. There are indications from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that there have been recent outflows of something looking suspiciously like water from the sides of craters further towards the equator. There it might get warm enough to have some water flow although the atmospheric pressure on Mars is so low that ice & water evaporate or sublime pretty quickly.

    As far as the “disappearing” snow goes, it’s evaporating/subliming before it lands. No secrets there. The temperature rises somewhat the closer you get to the ground. As the snow falls into that warmet atmosphere, it sublimes or evaporates, thus “disappearing” from the radar. If the amount of water in the air is highe enough, it will start to accumulate on the gruond as the temperature continues to drop. The issue may be, though, that the temperature drops so much that you start to see CO2 snow and then you might not be able to tell the difference. As things are now, the temperatures are low enough for water ice, yet too warm for CO2 ice, so we know it’s water.

    And “Jack”, what is it you are not believing? In water on Mars? That the lander is on Mars? That there is snow fron the water on Mars? I can assure you that all three of them are true as I work on the team that designed the Lidar that is finding the snow & I have seen the raw data and my friends are there as the data arrives. I don’t work for NASA nor for the US government, but for a private company.

    And, as far as the rock from Mars is concerned, well, what was contentious at the time was whether or not there were indications of life in the rock, not that the rock came from Mars. All of the people in the various universities who have looked at the rock are in agreement that it came from Mars. They just don’t agree that there are bacteriological fossils in the rock.


  5. sedgehammer said,

    September 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Hey Paul – thanks for your comments and explanations.

    Most of my comments were referring to the way the article was written to obviously snare the attention of the unwary reader, much like corny advertising uses catch-words like ‘new’, ‘improved’ or ‘free’. The whole article reads like the writers are trying to sell me something. The idea that it’s a mystery as to how water could exist in any form in the soil is ridiculous. Obviously, it happened – the only ‘mysteries’ might be asking when, or for how long, or under what conditions. Likewise, the idea that snow ‘disappeared’ before reaching the ground, rather than sublimating back into vapor, is sensational rather than accurate. It suggests, once again, that there is some ‘mystery’ about what happened to the snow, and attempts to attract attention with that mystery.

    Sorry that didn’t quite come through. Sometimes I can’t quite imply my sarcasm effectively enough.

  6. Paul Roberts said,

    September 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    No sweat. I understand completely. I also understand about the articles and it’s a bit of a vicious circle. The articles are sensationalist or at least simplistic from a scientific standpoint, yet how many of the general readership would have understood if the article said the snow sublimated before hitting the ground? The state of general scientific education is such that ocassionally the simplistic explanations are the only ones that might get understood.


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