Vast amounts of water on Mars

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Sam I Am, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Here's ice in a crater in the northern plains on Mars - the region with the wonderful name Vastitas Borealis.

    Many scientists believe this huge plain was an ocean during the Hesperian Epoch, a period of Martian history that stretches from about 3.5 to about 1.8 billion years ago. Later, around the end of the Hesperian, they think about 30% of the water on Mars evaporated and left the atmosphere, drifting off into outer space... part of the danger of life on a planet without much gravity. The oceans then froze. Most of them very slowly sublimated, disappearing into water vapor without ever melting. This water vapor was lost to outer space.

    But there's still a lot of water left. The north pole has an ice cap with 820,000 cubic kilometers of ice! That's equal to 30% of the Earth's Greenland ice sheet - enough to cover the whole surface of Mars to a depth of 5.6 meters if it melted, if we pretend Mars is flat. And the south pole is covered by a slab of ice about 3 kilometers thick, a mixture of 85% carbon dioxide ice and 15% water ice, surrounded by steep slopes made almost entirely of water ice. This has enough water that if it melted it would cover the whole surface to a depth of 11 meters!

    There's also lots of permafrost underground, and frost on the surface, and bits of ice like this. This picture was taken by the Mars Express satellite:

    • Water ice in crater at Martian north pole, ESA,

  2. a_minimalist

    a_minimalist Well-Known Member

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    Whoah, I've never seen that or even heard about water being found there. That's pretty cool.
  3. jobberone

    jobberone Kane Ala Staff Member

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    They've known there was lots of water for awhile but not proven about running water until recently. Also probably has melts with some running water from ground melts on occasion even now.

    This means there is no need to worry about carrying (mostly that's not feasible) water to Mars or manufacturing it there either. It also solves the problem of O2 there as they can make both hydrogen and oxygen from the water. The H gives energy back and the O2 to breathe. They just need energy to start it all and they should be able to use a combination of mostly solar, maybe nuclear, and possibly wind power for their energy along with the hydrogen which can provide energy for heat when solar not good and fuel for their rovers.
  4. Denim Chicken

    Denim Chicken Well-Known Member

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    Time to melt thoses babies and start terraforming!
  5. WV Cowboy

    WV Cowboy Waitin' on the 6th

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    I didn't read the link, but how are they sure that what appears to be water is indeed water, .. as we know it?
  6. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    Sadly mars has weak gravity; it will never be able to hold a atmosphere that could be useful.
  7. Duane

    Duane Well-Known Member

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    I think the biggest issue with Mars is the lack of atmosphere due to not having a magnetic field to protect the planet like Earth does. So even if they were able to melt all of the ice it would evaporate and be blown away by the solar winds.
  8. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    Magnetic field has nothing to do with retaining an atmosphere; Mars just does not have the gravity to retain in.
  9. jobberone

    jobberone Kane Ala Staff Member

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    Well, the gravity is enough to hold the atmosphere should we make it but without the magnetosphere you will constantly get it slowly stripped away but the loss is not rapid. You can keep up with it by continuing to put O2 and nitrogen in the atmosphere. If you can get the CO2 up enough to sustain something green like lichen then you can eventually get enough to sustain trees yada which will make your O2. But you do have to make it faster than the solar winds strips it away. I don't have the numbers on that but its somewhere. How accurate the numbers are I don't know.
  10. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    As noted, the gravity is what holds the atmosphere to the planet. The magnetosphere doesn't really help that except for the fact that it deflects solar winds away from the planet. It does help protect the atmosphere (and the entire Earth) from being bombarded with radiation though.
  11. danielofthesaints

    danielofthesaints Well-Known Member

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    At least I would weigh less on Mars......HEY LADIES!:rolleyes:
  12. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Yet, so would they. :laugh2:
  13. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    Isn't this an old picture? I've seen this before.
  14. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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