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Phobos
2002-May-26, 04:21 PM
Just spotted this very interesting story I thought I should bring to the board.

Ice oceans found on Mars (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2009000/2009318.stm)

And how much water is there ? Consider the following quote ...


The presence of such a vast amount of ice - if it were to melt it could cover the planet in an ocean at least 500 metres deep (1640 feet) - will change profoundly the direction of future exploration.

Wow! Phobos

beskeptical
2002-May-26, 09:21 PM
I've seen fotos of up close, recent, liquid water features on Mars that correlate with the report. On the sides of craters that would get some solar heating, and not on the shady sides, are patterns of erosion consistent with periodic outbursts of liquid water. The drainage features lie on top of datable dust storm features, indicating liquid water on the surface in the most recent geological times.

Espritch
2002-May-27, 03:15 AM
Kind of sounds like if we ever go to terraform the place we may need to take along a really big mop /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Jigsaw
2002-May-27, 03:54 AM
Okay, I'm probably missing something here. It doesn't say they found "water"--it says they found "hydrogen", and they're assuming that it means "water".


The spacecraft contains an instrument called a gamma-ray spectrometer that looks for gamma-rays (high-energy light) with a specific signature showing that they come from hydrogen less than one metre (three feet) beneath the Martian surface.

Astronomers believe that the hydrogen is locked up in crystals of ice.
Is there any other explanation for large amounts of hydrogen, other than water ice?

David Hall
2002-May-27, 06:06 AM
On 2002-05-26 23:54, Jigsaw wrote:

Is there any other explanation for large amounts of hydrogen, other than water ice?


I think that if there were any other reasonable explanations, they'd probably at least mention them. CYA would be SOP with this kind of announcement.

Still, can't rule out the possibility until we can actually get samples.

So what do you think it is exactly? Am I right in guessing it's something like a permafrost layer? Or is it more like buried strata of solid ice?

beskeptical
2002-May-27, 06:57 AM
We'll have to wait for the real report rather than the 'news leak'. I suspect there is strong evidence that it is water ice after hearing the presentation on the drainage features seen in the fotos.

Phobos
2002-May-27, 01:19 PM
Mars "the red planet" gets its colour because in effect it is rusty (iron oxide). The extent of the redness on the surface is largely due to the iron and oxygen locked up in the soil. Since they have now direct evidence of large amounts of hydrogen in the regolith it seems reasonable to assume that a large proportion is locked up in the form of h20 ie water.

Phobos

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Phobos on 2002-05-27 09:21 ]</font>

Jigsaw
2002-May-28, 01:44 AM
IANA chemistry person, but why couldn't it be some other compound that has hydrogen in it, like hydrogen sulfide?

Phobos
2002-May-28, 03:07 AM
On 2002-05-27 21:44, Jigsaw wrote:
IANA chemistry person, but why couldn't it be some other compound that has hydrogen in it, like hydrogen sulfide?


In a way it really wouldn't matter. We know there is plenty of Hydrogen and plenty of Oxygen. Even if the elements were locked up in other compounds it should be relatively easy to create whatever water we needed.

Having said that given that 3 of the primary surface elements are Hydrogen, Oxygen and Iron, it seems reasonable to expect to find water (even if it is frozen).

Thinking back to my Chemistry lessons I believe one of the primary reasons to expect water is that H20 is a very stable and relatively unreactive molecule. Once formed it is less likely to react with other elements or molecules than say Hydrogen Sulphide (eg. H2S + 2(O2) = H2SO4 or Sulphuric Acid).

If the hydrogen were locked up in other molecules it would more likely be with Carbon (Carbon forms strong chemical bonds). HydroCarbons are typically organic matter, but it would be very difficult to imagine much of the Hydrogen to be locked up in this way as Carbon is much less abundant (due to the process under which elements are formed we find the elements with lower atomic numbers are more numerious plentifull - ie, Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen ...).

Phobos

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Phobos on 2002-05-28 00:36 ]</font>

Kaptain K
2002-May-28, 09:17 AM
FYI Phobos,
Carbon: at # = 6, at. wt. = 12
Oxygen: at # = 8, at, wt. = 16

So, by your reasoning, carbon should be more abundant than oxygen.

Phobos
2002-May-28, 11:01 AM
On 2002-05-28 05:17, Kaptain K wrote:
FYI Phobos,
Carbon: at # = 6, at. wt. = 12
Oxygen: at # = 8, at, wt. = 16

So, by your reasoning, carbon should be more abundant than oxygen.


This is what may be expected if we were to restrict ourselves to just what elements would be expected to be present by the process by which elements are produced. The elements that exist have been produced in a number of ways, but the main methods are;

1) Residue from the big bang or whatever process produced the early universe.

2) Nuclear processes during the lifespan of a star.

3) Side effects of the death of a star.


There are other methods (eg. manmade elements), but those that involve the life and death of a star are believed to be the most common for elements beyond Helium (Hydrogen and Helium are by far the most common Solar System elements).

The processes mainly convert elements with a low atomic number into elements with a higher atomic number, so there is a *trend* whereby the elements with lower atomic numbers tend to be more common than those with higher atomic numbers.

http://www.uoregon.edu/~jrice/geol_311/Abundance.gif

The graph above illustrates the point I am trying to make (Note also that the Y axis is a logarithm of abundance). Of course there are other factors which determine what elements actually come together to form a planet (eg. mass). That said there are other factors responsible for the distribution of elements in our solar system (eg. extra solar comets) but the trend is there due to the mechanisms under which Hydrogen is converted into other elements.

You should also see from the graph that we have a relatively large amount of Iron. This is due to the difficulty stars have in converting Iron to elements with heavier atomic numbers. That is mainly due to the difficulty stars have in converting Iron into heavier elements. As a result when stars redistrube elements after a supernova there is a proportionately large amount of Iron in the ejecta.

If the Hydrogen found is not bonded with Oxygen, then I would consider Carbon one of the most likely elements to be bonded with the Hydrogen (and yes there is Carbon on Mars - the atmosphere is over 96% CO2).

Phobos

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Phobos on 2002-05-28 07:36 ]</font>

Karl
2002-May-28, 09:14 PM
NASA News Release

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/2002/release_2002_121.html

Jigsaw
2002-May-29, 03:37 AM
From the NASA news release:

...enough water ice to fill Lake Michigan twice over.
So they're saying that what they've found so far is "--this much--" water ice, but just in the spot at the South Pole where the Odyssey was taking measurements.

That's not a lot of water. Also...

Another new result from the neutron data is that large areas of Mars at low to middle latitudes contain slightly enhanced amounts of hydrogen, equivalent to several percent water by mass. Interpretation of this finding is ongoing, but the team's preliminary hypothesis is that this relatively small amount of hydrogen is more likely to be chemically bound to the minerals in the soil, than to be in the form of water ice.
So, then, this BBC article is just a teensy bit over-excited, eh? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2013000/2013114.stm

Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Mars ice could flood planet

Scientists have revealed the full technical details of their discovery of vast reservoirs of ice beneath the Martian surface.

So much ice has been found in the polar regions that if it were to melt it would deluge the planet.

The ice may stretch far underground to regions where it is warm, raising the possibility of warm caverns of meltwater in which scientists hesitantly speculate conditions could be suitable for life.
I mean, I don't see that in the NASA press release. All they're saying is "enough to fill Lake Michigan twice", which is a considerably smaller amount than "enough to flood the entire planet's surface".

Is there another NASA press release somewhere?

BTW, the BBC article does have a nifty graphic that shows the ice in blue, but I think they're reading too much into the NASA press release.

Karl
2002-May-29, 05:46 AM
On 2002-05-28 23:37, Jigsaw wrote:
Is there another NASA press release somewhere?


There is this:

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/28may_marsice.htm?list761913

Frankly, I'm having problems with my own Mars instrument and haven't had time to really read this new stuff. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

Fix spelling

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Karl on 2002-05-29 01:48 ]</font>

Phobos
2002-May-29, 09:42 AM
On 2002-05-28 23:37, Jigsaw wrote:
From the NASA news release:
[quote]...enough water ice to fill Lake Michigan twice over.

So they're saying that what they've found so far is "--this much--" water ice, but just in the spot at the South Pole where the Odyssey was taking measurements.

That's not a lot of water.

Lake Michigan is over 22,300 sqare miles of water with an average depth of 279 feet. Not enough to cover Mars, but still a very considerable amount of water.

Nasa says that this water was detected "just under the surface of Mars". According to NASA's website, "The neutron detectors are sensitive to concentrations of hydrogen in the upper meter of the surface" (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/technology/grs.html). In other words the NASA claim only accounts for the amount of water detected within the first meter of the polar surface.

If there is this much water in the first Metre, then the BBC claim for the total amount of water doesn't see too extreme.

Phobos

John Kierein
2002-May-29, 10:09 AM
Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 17:06:40 -0700 (PDT)
From: JPLNews@jpl.nasa.gov [add to address book] [add to spam block list]
Subject: Odyssey Finds Water Ice in Abundance Under Mars' Surface
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Reply To: news-owner@www.jpl.nasa.gov




MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Contact: JPL/Mary Hardin (818) 354-0344
NASA Headquarters/Don Savage (202) 358-1727
University of Arizona/Heather Enos (520) 621-8279

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 28, 2002

ODYSSEY FINDS WATER ICE IN ABUNDANCE UNDER MARS' SURFACE

Using instruments on NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, surprised
scientists have found enormous quantities of buried treasure lying just under the surface
of Mars -- enough water ice to fill Lake Michigan twice over. And that may just be the tip
of the iceberg.

Images are available at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov and
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey .

"This is really amazing. This is the best direct evidence we have of subsurface
water ice on Mars. We were hopeful that we could find evidence of ice, but what we have
found is much more ice than we ever expected," said Dr. William Boynton, principal
investigator for Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer suite at the University of Arizona,
Tucson.

Scientists used Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer instrument suite to detect
hydrogen, which indicated the presence of water ice in the upper meter (three feet) of soil
in a large region surrounding the planet's south pole. "It may be better to characterize this
layer as dirty ice rather than as dirt containing ice," added Boynton. The detection of
hydrogen is based both on the intensity of gamma rays emitted by hydrogen, and by the
intensity of neutrons that are affected by hydrogen. The spacecraft's high-energy neutron
detector and the neutron spectrometer observed the neutron intensity.

The amount of hydrogen detected indicates 20 to 50 percent ice by mass in the
lower layer. Because rock has a greater density than ice, this amount is more than 50
percent water ice by volume. This means that if one heated a full bucket of this ice-rich
polar soil it would result in more than half a bucket of water.

The gamma ray spectrometer suite is unique in that it senses the composition
below the surface to a depth as great as one meter. By combining the different type of
data from the instrument, the team has concluded the hydrogen is not distributed
uniformly over the upper meter but is much more concentrated in a lower layer beneath
the top-most surface.

The team also found that the hydrogen-rich regions are located in areas that are
known to be very cold and where ice should be stable. This relationship between high
hydrogen content with regions of predicted ice stability led the team to conclude that the
hydrogen is, in fact, in the form of ice. The ice-rich layer is about 60 centimeters (two
feet) beneath the surface at 60 degrees south latitude, and gets to within about 30
centimeters (one foot) of the surface at 75 degrees south latitude.

"Mars has surprised us again. The early results from the gamma ray
spectrometer team are better than we ever expected," said Dr. R. Stephen Saunders,
Odyssey's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "In a
few months, as we get into martian summer in the northern hemisphere, it will be
exciting to see what lies beneath the cover of carbon dioxide dry-ice as it disappears."

"The signature of buried hydrogen seen in the south polar area is also seen in
the north, but not in the areas close to the pole. This is because the seasonal carbon
dioxide (dry ice) frost covers the polar areas in winter. As northern spring approaches, the
latest neutron data indicate that the frost is receding, revealing hydrogen-rich soil below,"
said Dr. William Feldman, principal investigator for the neutron spectrometer at Los
Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico.

"We have suspected for some time that Mars once had large amounts of water
near the surface. The big questions we are trying to answer are, 'where did all that water
go?' and 'what are the implications for life?' Measuring and mapping the icy soils in the
polar regions of Mars, as the Odyssey team has done, is an important piece of this puzzle,
but we need to continue searching, perhaps much deeper underground, for what happened
to the rest of the water we think Mars once had," said Dr. Jim Garvin, Mars Program
Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Another new result from the neutron data is that large areas of Mars at low to
middle latitudes contain slightly enhanced amounts of hydrogen, equivalent to several
percent water by mass. Interpretation of this finding is ongoing, but the team's
preliminary hypothesis is that this relatively small amount of hydrogen is more likely to
be chemically bound to the minerals in the soil, than to be in the form of water ice.

JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, D.C. Investigators at Arizona State University, Tempe; the
University of Arizona, Tucson; and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the
science instruments. The gamma-ray spectrometer was provided by the University of
Arizona in collaboration with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, which provided
the high-energy neutron detector, and the Los Alamos National Laboratories which
provided the neutron spectrometer. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, developed
and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin
and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Additional information about the 2001 Mars Odyssey and the gamma-ray
spectrometer is available on the Internet at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/
and
http://grs.lpl.arizona.edu .

#####

05/28/02 MAH #2

Chip
2002-May-30, 06:05 PM
More about ice and water on Mars (http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/space/05/30/coolsc.mars.ice/index.html):

CNN's Q & A with Astronomer Jim Bell of Cornell University today. (05/30/02)

Bell states: "If there is water there waiting for people and it's accessible, meaning it's within the upper most part of the surface, not way, way down deep, then that provides a wonderful natural resource for the first explorers that go there sometime in the next few decades. First of all, we need water to drink. We can use deposits of ice to extract oxygen from the water, and water can be used to create rocket fuel for the return trip home or for other excursions around the planet."

John Kierein
2002-Jun-05, 09:03 AM
MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Mars Odyssey Mission Status
June 4, 2002

Flight controllers for NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft completed the last major
technical milestone today in support of the science mission by unfurling the boom that
holds the gamma ray spectrometer sensor head instrument.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received
confirmation from the spacecraft that the 6.2-meter (20-foot) boom was successfully
deployed at noon Pacific time.

The gamma sensor head is part of the gamma ray spectrometer suite. It sits at the
end of the boom to minimize interference from any gamma rays coming from the
spacecraft itself. The two other gamma ray spectrometer instruments, the neutron
spectrometer and the high-energy neutron detector, are mounted on the main spacecraft
structure.
During the past few months, while the boom was in the stowed position, the
instrument suite has provided significant information about the hydrogen abundance on
Mars. This allowed scientists to conclude there are large quantities of water ice just
below the surface.
"Deploying the boom enhances the sensitivity and accuracy of the gamma ray
spectrometer instrument and will improve the accuracy of the hydrogen measurements,"
said Dr. William Boynton, principal investigator for Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer
suite at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Now the instrument will begin measuring
many other important elements such as iron, aluminum, potassium, chlorine, thorium,
uranium and others.

"Today's deployment is a continuation of the excellent performance of this flight
team. They have done an outstanding job," said Roger Gibbs, Odyssey's project manager
at JPL. "I look forward to many exciting discoveries to come as we continue our
mission."

JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, D.C. Principal investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe,
the University of Arizona in Tucson, and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston,
operate the science instruments. Additional science investigators are located at the
Russian Space Research Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and
developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed
Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Kyle
2002-Jul-02, 10:53 AM
On 2002-05-26 12:21, Phobos wrote:
Just spotted this very interesting story I thought I should bring to the board.

Ice oceans found on Mars (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2009000/2009318.stm)

And how much water is there ? Consider the following quote ...


The presence of such a vast amount of ice - if it were to melt it could cover the planet in an ocean at least 500 metres deep (1640 feet) - will change profoundly the direction of future exploration.

Wow! Phobos



Wow indeed! Maybe flooding there is a spectacular, regular action.


I'd hate to land there during the "rainy season"