Water on Mars / Otherworlds Topic


The news is all over the internet and traditional media. NASA’s found evidence of water (mixed with salts) on Mars. It’s fairly big news and could mean a big difference in the way NASA and other agencies prepare for manned missions to our red neighbor.

So what are your thoughts? Of the Waters of Mars (That would make a cool sci-fi novel title - lol) or water on other planets in our system?

Europa (Jupiter’s moon)

Enceladus (Saturn’s moon)

And why are we searching for water? Or why is it so important? It is after all necessary for life as we know to sustain itself.


It would certainly make it easier for us to establish a station on mars knowing there is accessible water that can be extracted somehow.

######(or locked away in a secret alien vault ready for terraforming)


Even though they have confirmed this very salty perchlorate water flowing, it is very likely fresh water exists as ice a few meters down. That would be a much better way to make water/oxygen etc than dealing with the perchlorate water.

Certainly exciting news that water is present. Especially with NASA looking to have people going there in the 2030s!

The downside is: The Martian is now out of date for 2 facts even though the movie isn’t even out yet. :frowning:

1: SpaceX would solve the resupply timeframe problem.
2: Existing water would make having water a lot simpler than the dangerous solution he has to go through in the book.


Wow - a very interesting / weird / odd reason why we cannot send the Mars rovers to look at the supposed water. Then again I’m sure the conspiracy nuts will love the info.


What would the “conspiracy” be about? I don’t see anything in it for that kind of theory.

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Goverments have been in contact with (a) sentient species from mars for over 50 years and all the nations of earth agreed to not touch their habitat?

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Aren’t there already enough data that it’s a sure thing already? I vaguely remember a radar-looking image or set of images that showed something consistent with very large masses of ice under relatively shallow cover of soil. Not km’s nor hundreds of meters deep.

Not so. The water is basically mud and can only be found on steep hills where we can see it flowing. We still don’t have evidence that it may or may not be water everywhere a few meters below the surface. It could be that water happened to be at those locations for reasons. It could be that it’s anywhere. We just don’t know. Also, that water is filled with mud/dust/pechlorates which are extremely difficult to purify. I suppose you could use reverse osmosis, but there is still the problem of collecting the muddy salty water and getting it to your filter in the first place. His solution was more elegant for the equipment he had.

I don’t think NASA plans to rely in-situ water supplies for any of the first mars expeditions. You can definitely bet that the first missions would study the feasibility of using those resources though.

It seems perfectly reasonable to me. Liquid water is a sign for life. If there is any life there you wouldn’t want to contaminate any readings you could have. Whether it’s a false positive or not, it would make the billions of dollars you spent getting that science rover there completely void.

Additionally, the hills that the water flows on are extremely steep and curiosity wasn’t built to travel over such terrain. Nor was it given instruments finding for discovering life. It was given instruments to discover if the necessary ingredients for life existed.

The speed of curiosity is also quite low. It’s primary 2 year mission requires it to travel only 19 km. The water is ~50km away. By that speed it would take another 5 years just to get to the water. It’s far more reasonable to just send a dedicated rover with the right instruments that’s capable of traversing the terrain than diverting curiosity there right now.


From the Wikipedia page on Mars glaciers:

Like glaciers on Earth, glaciers on Mars are not pure water ice.[1][10] Many are thought to contain substantial proportions of debris, and a substantial number are probably better described as rock glaciers.[20][21][22] For many years, largely because of the modeled instability of water ice in the midlatitudes where the putative glacial features were concentrated, it was argued that almost all glaciers were rock glaciers on Mars.[23] However, recent direct observations made by the SHARAD radar instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite have confirmed that at least some features are relatively pure ice, and thus, true glaciers.[6][8]

Radar studies with the SHAllow RADar (SHARAD) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed that Lobate Debris Aprons (LDA) and Lineated Valley Fill (LVF) contain pure water ice covered with a thin layer of rocks that insulated the ice.[28][29] Ice was found both in the southern hemisphere [30] and in the northern hemisphere.[31] Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute combined radar observations with ice flow modelling to say that ice in all of the Martian glaciers is equivalent to what could cover the entire surface of Mars with 1.1 meters of ice. The fact that the ice is still there and has not evaporated out into space suggests that a thick layer of dust is protecting the ice.

Water source for future colonists[edit]
Mars has vast glaciers hidden under a layer of rocky debris over wide areas in the mid-latitudes. These glaciers could be large reservoir of life-supporting water on the planet for simple life forms and for future colonists of the Red Planet. Research by John Holt, of the University of Texas at Austin, and others found that one of the features examined is three times larger than the city of Los Angeles and up to one-half-mile thick, and there are many more.[78][79]

And a bit more from the main Water on Mars page:

From an ESA page, not dated, but Mars Express started its science in ~2005:

The upper image of this composite is a ‘radargram’ from the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) on board ESA’s Mars Express.

The lower image shows the position of the ground track of the spacecraft (indicated by a white line) on a topographic map of the area

The MARSIS radar echo trace splits into two traces on the left side of the image, at the point where the ground track crosses from the surrounding plains onto elevated layered deposits.

The upper trace is the echo from the surface of the deposits, while the lower trace is interpreted to be the boundary between the lower surface of the deposits and the underlying material.

The strength of the lower echo suggests that the intervening material is nearly pure water ice. Near the image center, the bright lower echo abruptly disappears for unknown reasons. The time delay between the two echoes reaches a maximum of 42 microseconds left of center, corresponding to a thickness of 3.5 kilometres of ice.


Speaking of water, the Cassini probe will reach Enceladus’ ice plume on the 28th. Not sure when we’ll see the data, but this is one of the more exciting investigations for me. I can’t wait to see what happens.