Subsurface Water Ice And Chances For Present Life on Mars

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posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 08:16 AM
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While checking the MRO website, I came across two really stunning HiRISE images that obviously haven't been posted anywhere on ATS yet.

They've already been acquired some time ago but they impressively show subsurface water ice exposed on the martian landscape by relatively recent meteor impacts (please note that the icy material originates from the martian ground, not the meteorites):




1. Icy Material Thrown from Cratering Impact on Mars

This image taken on May 19, 2010, shows an impact crater that had not existed when the same location on Mars was previously observed in March 2008. The new impact excavated and scattered water ice that had been hidden beneath the surface. The location is at 63.9 degrees north latitude, 44.9 degrees east longitude. The 50-meter scale bar at lower right is about 55 yards long.




2. Fresh Crater Exposing Buried Ice on Mid-Latitude Mars

A meteorite impact that excavated this crater on Mars exposed bright ice that had been hidden just beneath the surface at this location: latitude 43.9 degrees north, longitude 204.3 degrees east. The 100-meter scale bar at lower right is 109 yards.




3. Locations of Ice-Exposing Fresh Craters on Mars

This map of Mars indicates locations of new craters that have excavated ice (blue) and those that have not (red). The underlying map is based on the brightness, or albedo, of the Martian surface. Most fresh craters are discovered in the brighter, dusty regions of Mars where dark blast patterns from the impacts can be seen.


I didn't have much time to do more research right now, but a few thoughts and questions immediately came to my mind when seeing this and thinking about 'why' this probably has some relevance:

- present subsurface life on Mars is scientifically conceivable, with ice/water being a good precondition
- if located deep enough, subsurface life may be sufficiently shielded from deadly radiation
- the Viking biological experiments of the 70s neither prove or disprove the idea of present life on Mars
- Mars probes capable of ground penetrating analysis (like MPL or Mars 96) have all failed up to this point
- scientists are increasingly interested in organisms in isolated subsurface ecosystems on Earth (eg. Lake Vostok)
- extremophile organisms on Earth might indicate what we can expect from present life on Mars


I thought this was worth posting about and perhaps we'll manage to compile some further facts & data regarding potential present day life on Mars. From my point of view, that question is just as exciting as the idea of ancient life on the red planet. I hope you enjoyed these pics as much as I did and thanks for reading up to this point ... !


SOURCES:
1. Water Ice Crater, Image 1
2. Water Ice Crater, Image 2
3. Distribution Map: Craters and Ice
4. Mars Polar Lander
5. Mars 96
6. Viking: Biological Experiments

DISCLAIMER: All images used in this thread are in the public domain, courtesy by NASA/JPL
edit on 10-1-2014 by jeep3r because: text




posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 08:18 AM
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reply to post by jeep3r
 


There is ice at the pols on mars, this is nothing new. I think if they find liquid water like we have on earth then that will be exciting.



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 08:28 AM
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reply to post by wlasikiewicz
 


Yes, that's well known, indeed. But these are not just directly at the poles and they show subsurface preservation of water ice. If temperatures further below are higher, liquid water is an option and would indeed raise the chances for subsurface present day life.

Also, extremophile organisms might feel more comfortable in an environment with (at least) water ice and some protection against radiation deep in the ground ...
edit on 10-1-2014 by jeep3r because: text



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 09:13 AM
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I may be wrong, but I thought the ice was frozen carbon dioxide -- dry ice. How do we know this is water?

Or how can they tell?
edit on 10-1-2014 by Grimpachi because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 10:35 AM
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Cool stuff. I didn't know ice can be excavated by impacts, I thought it would sublimate from the energy of the impact.

Good question regarding how do we know it's H2O and not CO2. They might have examined it spectroscopically, or it might be that CO2 would have indeed sublimated from the force of impact, but water ice would have remained. I don't know.

Water ice is common in the Solar System, the trouble is finding where H2O can stay liquid.



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 10:48 AM
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reply to post by wildespace
 


That's exactly why I thought this was of interest, I also didn't expect meteorites to excavate water ice away from the poles in mid-latitude areas on Mars.

As for detecting that it's actually water and not frozen carbon dioxide, my best guess is that they can determine that via the CRISM instrument aboard MRO:


CRISM is being used to identify locations on Mars that may have hosted water, a chemical considered important in the search for past or present extraterrestrial life.

In order to do this, CRISM is mapping the presence of minerals and chemicals that may indicate past interaction with water (...) In addition, CRISM is monitoring ice and dust particulates in the Martian atmosphere to learn more about its climate and seasons.

Source: en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 10:52 AM
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There are chances that some kind of liquid (Water?) flow on Mars right now...
Liquid (water?) flow on Mars now!

Whether it's liquid water or liquid something else it is nice to finally see something that shows evidence of movement other than just wind and sand.

This opens up the possibility of vast underground caves and caverns. If there are such locations there may be cave life protected from violent and extreme surface environment and conditions.

S&f, jeep3r
edit on 10-1-2014 by Arken because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 12:38 PM
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reply to post by Arken
 


That, and I was also thinking in terms of psychrophiles, which are extremophilic organisms known from Earth that are capable of growth & reproduction in cold temperatures, ranging from -15°C to 10°C.

And here's another potential analogy to microbes living under extreme conditions on Earth:

Microbes Thrive in Deepest Spot on Earth

(...) that research looked at rocks up to about 1,150 to 1,900 feet (350 to 580 m) below the seafloor under about 8,500 feet (2,600 m) of water off the coast of the northwestern United States. These microbes apparently live off energy from chemical reactions between water and rock instead of nutrients snowing from above.

/emphasis added/

Source: www.livescience.com...
edit on 10-1-2014 by jeep3r because: text



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 03:38 PM
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Grimpachi
I may be wrong, but I thought the ice was frozen carbon dioxide -- dry ice. How do we know this is water?

Or how can they tell?
edit on 10-1-2014 by Grimpachi because: (no reason given)


Im guessing through spectrometry. Astrochemsitry is far far far from my area of expertise. But Spectrometry would be how I would do it as it would flag up pretty cleary what chemicals are were. But just working out its weight would likley do it too.



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 09:46 PM
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The prospect of widespread water on Mars adds another layer of excitement to the Mars one initiative.



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 10:53 PM
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wlasikiewicz
reply to post by jeep3r
 


There is ice at the pols on mars, this is nothing new. I think if they find liquid water like we have on earth then that will be exciting.


I guess you missed this story then...


Puzzling Streaks On Mars May Be From Flowing Water


Dark seasonal streaks on slopes near the Martian equator may be a sign of flowing salt water on Mars, liquid runoff that melts and evaporates during the planet's warmer months, scientists say.



posted on Jan, 10 2014 @ 10:54 PM
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crazyewok

Grimpachi
I may be wrong, but I thought the ice was frozen carbon dioxide -- dry ice. How do we know this is water?

Or how can they tell?
edit on 10-1-2014 by Grimpachi because: (no reason given)


Im guessing through spectrometry. Astrochemsitry is far far far from my area of expertise. But Spectrometry would be how I would do it as it would flag up pretty cleary what chemicals are were. But just working out its weight would likley do it too.


Correct. Most Mars missions contain a spectrometer. Curiosity has a very good one.



posted on Jan, 11 2014 @ 03:04 AM
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CraftBuilder
The prospect of widespread water on Mars adds another layer of excitement to the Mars one initiative.

Indeed, I think this should be of interest for any manned mission to the red planet. If it's beneath the surface and not too deep, it should be possible to get access to it.

As for the Mars One project: I'm still not sure that these guys are going to be the ones to really take off. It might as well end up as an earthbound TV and online marketing campaign. But that's another story ...



posted on Jan, 11 2014 @ 05:52 PM
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Perhaps it's just a matter of doing the maths, and here's what we have:

- confirmed subsurface water ice at mid-latitude coordinates, mostly in the northern hemisphere
- seasonal streaks of flowing saltwater (likely), mainly in the southern hemisphere & close to the equator

Underground = protection from radiation.

The location (in terms of latitude) as well as depth and the particular season relates to temperatures, which may be sufficiently high in many places, especially beneath the surface. Liquid water directly on the surface evaporates (pressure) or freezes. Underground water, however, could actually be 'flowing' as indicated by the recently discovered streaks (recurrent slope linea, see here and here).

Add in chemical reactions between rocks & water and we might have an environment that complies with the very modest living conditions required by some extremophile organisms.



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 01:30 AM
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jeep3r
reply to post by wlasikiewicz
 


Yes, that's well known, indeed. But these are not just directly at the poles and they show subsurface preservation of water ice. If temperatures further below are higher, liquid water is an option and would indeed raise the chances for subsurface present day life.

Also, extremophile organisms might feel more comfortable in an environment with (at least) water ice and some protection against radiation deep in the ground ...
edit on 10-1-2014 by jeep3r because: text

No, liquid water on Mars is impossible.

Common Misconceptions
• Liquid water can exist on Mars.

solarsystem.nasa.gov...



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 01:43 AM
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OccamsRazor04

jeep3r
reply to post by wlasikiewicz
 


Yes, that's well known, indeed. But these are not just directly at the poles and they show subsurface preservation of water ice. If temperatures further below are higher, liquid water is an option and would indeed raise the chances for subsurface present day life.

Also, extremophile organisms might feel more comfortable in an environment with (at least) water ice and some protection against radiation deep in the ground ...
edit on 10-1-2014 by jeep3r because: text

No, liquid water on Mars is impossible.

Common Misconceptions
• Liquid water can exist on Mars.

solarsystem.nasa.gov...



There should have been an exception.

Highly salty water can be in liquid form and it looks like we may have found some flows of it:



Weird Mars Streaks Could Be Liquid Water Stains


Dark seasonal streaks on slopes near the Martian equator may be a sign of flowing salt water on Mars, liquid runoff that melts and evaporates during the planet's warmer months, scientists say.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted the dark streaks on Mars as they formed and grew in the planet's late spring and summer seasons, when the Martian equatorial region receives the most sunlight. The streaks then faded the next season as cooler temperatures prevailed.




edit on 12-1-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 02:55 AM
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reply to post by OccamsRazor04
 




No, liquid water on Mars is impossible.


Wrong.

Update your "Book's skeptic"...

It is possible. Salt water flow in specific regions of Mars.



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 03:15 AM
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Arken
reply to post by OccamsRazor04
 




No, liquid water on Mars is impossible.


Wrong.

Update your "Book's skeptic"...

It is possible. Salt water flow in specific regions of Mars.

First, your idea of what "salt water" and what is on Mars may not be the same. If you are expecting something like ocean water you would be mistaken.

Second, it can not persist on Mars, the water WILL disappear, it 100% CAN NOT stay on the surface. The flows you are talking about are seasonal, they come and go. No water STAYS on the surface of Mars.



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 03:15 AM
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reply to post by JadeStar
 


You do realize your source proves me right don't you?


Dark seasonal streaks on slopes near the Martian equator may be a sign of flowing salt water on Mars, liquid runoff that melts and evaporates during the planet's warmer months, scientists say.



posted on Jan, 12 2014 @ 03:46 AM
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reply to post by OccamsRazor04
 


"No, liquid water on Mars is impossible." - You replied to a post about underground reserves of frozen water which, under certain conditions, may stay liquid. No one is talking about oceans of water splashing around on Mars.



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