Friday, June 20, 2008

It's Official - Ice Found on Mars

The Mars Phoenix lander has done what it was sent to Mars for. It had found solid evidence of ice on the red planet. The lander dug a small trench which revealed a white shiny substance. This has been up for much debate over the last week as to whether or not it was ice or salt. But it looks like it is probably ice.

Mars has a different atmospheric pressure than here on Earth, that being the case liquid water can not exist. What happens is that when ice is exposed to the atmosphere it literally turns straight to gas, skipping the liquid stage, this is called sublimation. NASA has just announced that the patch of white shiny stuff they found has started to vanish, this can only mean that sublimation is taking place. The only real thing left for Phoenix to do now of find evidence of organic compounds that lead to life.
This is a major discovery, we now have evidence that water existed on Mars and is still there in ice form.
Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona said:
"It must be ice, these little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can't do that."
That's not bad going, the craft has only been there for 24 days. It was day 20 when the hole was dug and 4 days later they an ounce that they have found ice.

Needless to say that the discovery has come at an interesting time. The US Presidential candidates have been announced and who knows what is in store for NASA and space exploration. Hopefully this will encourage the new President to re-examine the current policies and throw a bit more money their way.

This is another nail in the coffin of intelligent design or creationism (whatever its called). I see a future that many have predicted, seas on Mars and colonists walking the land breathing the air. Start terraforming now I say.


Mooghead said...

Sorry but I am one of those people who thinks 'right, its ice. We have spent billions, if not hundreds of billions (which, according to the Oxfford Dictionary is a spondilion) pounds, thats POUNDS, to find out that there is ice there, just like we suspected'. What now? What do we do with that information? How does it move us forward as a species? It satisfies a curiosity. Great.

Mr_Fett01 said...

Because its cool, thats why we do it. And we do it to prove to the creationists and ID crazies that science is right and it teaches us the right thing.
What we do with that info might happen in 30-50 years time but it sets in motion the development of tools to extract that ice and make it usable to future scientist/colonists. Its also cheaper than sending people.