Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

Liquid water found beneath Martian south pole

Data from Europe’s Mars Express orbiter has detected a pond of liquid water buried beneath the Martian south pole.

The radar investigation shows that south polar region of Mars is made of many layers of ice and dust down to a depth of about 1.5 km in the 200 km-wide area analysed in this study. A particularly bright radar reflection underneath the layered deposits is identified within a 20 km-wide zone.

Analysing the properties of the reflected radar signals and considering the composition of the layered deposits and expected temperature profile below the surface, the scientists interpret the bright feature as an interface between the ice and a stable body of liquid water, which could be laden with salty, saturated sediments. For MARSIS to be able to detect such a patch of water, it would need to be at least several tens of centimetres thick.

The data here is somewhat uncertain, but is also not to be dismissed. It is very likely this is liquid water.

I must add that this is not really a big surprise. Many scientists expected this. Also, this water is not very accessible, and is also located at the pole, the Mars’s harshest environment. Just because it is liquid is not a reason to aim to mine it. There is plenty of evidence of ice in much more accessible and reasonable locations.

What this discovery suggests is that it is possible to have liquid water on Mars. The great geological mystery of the planet is while that much of its geology appears formed by flowing water, scientists have not been able to devise good climate histories that make that flowing water possible. This discovery helps those scientists in devising those histories.

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3 comments

  • Localfluff

    They seem to have had big problems with this observation, since 2007. Having reconfigured the radar to get consistent data. So it isn’t a hasty conclusion.

  • wodun

    It would be interesting to know under what conditions liquid water could exist on the surface of Mars taking into account air pressure, relative humidity, temperature, salinity and mineral content.

    I’ve seen people saying water would sublimate into the atmosphere due to air pressure and temperature but others respond that the relative humidity was near 100%.

  • Localfluff

    @wodun Liquid water boils off immediately on Mars’ surface. Water ice too but slower. There is water in the atmosphere, at least seasonally, that boils off from the poles one at a time. But 100% humidity is not much at all in that thin CO2 atmosphere.

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