Author Topic: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water  (Read 9018 times)

Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« on: 06/26/2016 01:54 PM »
Looks they have made the decision to carry out further investigations of the recurring slope lineae.

Quote
Scientists have already found hints of liquid water on Mars... now, they want to take a close look at it. NASA has revealed that the Curiosity rover will investigate recurring slope lineae (those streaks you see above) around Mars' Gale Crater in hopes of finding water. It'll first take a photo with its mast camera to verify that there's water in the first place. If there is, the machine will head over to collect samples. The agency would like to take those photos within a year, so you wouldn't have to wait too long to get answers.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/25/curiosity-rover-may-sample-mars-water/

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #1 on: 06/26/2016 02:34 PM »
The paper which is the source for this is behind a paywall, sadly:

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n5/full/ngeo2412.html

Mount Sharp is the last place I would have expected RSLs if they come from groundwater. If there are briny flows, it suggests a different source, such as hygroscopic salts which have extracted moisture from the air. Of course, there may be different mechanisms in different places...


Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #2 on: 06/26/2016 06:29 PM »
I thought that the Planetary Protection people had issued as close as they could to a specific ban from any terrestrial vehicle not sterilized to the full extent that, say, the Vikings were, from even approaching an RSL.

Has this changed, or is NASA just ignoring the protocols, now?
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Offline stone

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #3 on: 06/26/2016 06:51 PM »
Liquid water is one of the definitions for a special region. For special regions post Viking sterility is necessary. 0,03 spores per squaremeter. This is not what Curiosity was built for. The assembly in the large cleanroom with the garment used and without a final DHMR cycle this levels can not be reached. The text looks like NASA managment is looking for an OK from the PP Officer. From the regulations NASA has accepted this is impossible if they want to do it anyway they have to go through COSPAR and a amendment to the rules. I hope they get this through in the year they have until they reach the RLS.

Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #4 on: 06/26/2016 06:52 PM »
More details in this article.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a21507/curiosity-will-photograph-possibly-sample-water-on-mars/

This is pertinent to PP from the article.

Quote
If images taken with Curiosity's MastCam camera confirm that the hilly region nearby has periodically flowing liquid water, then NASA will consider sending the rover to take a sample, a decision that ultimately would fall to the "planetary protection officer," the person in charge of ensuring that spacecraft don't mistakenly contaminate another celestial body with microorganisms from Earth.

Green says it is likely that any microorganisms that managed to survive Curiosity's sterilization process before launch have since been killed by the radiation and extreme conditions on Mars. It will take extensive analysis, however, to approve the rover to travel to the RSL region, where it could collect material and even use its ChemCam laser to vaporize a sample and spectrographically analyze it to determine its composition. Curiosity is unlikely to determine definitely whether life exists on Mars, but the rover could provide valuable data for a future mission designed for that purpose.
« Last Edit: 06/26/2016 06:58 PM by Star One »

Offline stone

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #5 on: 06/26/2016 08:27 PM »
" Curiosity's sterilization process before launch "
There was no sterilization. Most parts of Curiosity got a wipe with i-propanol/water and were sampled afterward.
The last spacecraft wide sterilization was done on Viking.

Offline hop

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #6 on: 06/26/2016 08:46 PM »
Looks they have made the decision to carry out further investigations of the recurring slope lineae.

Quote
Scientists have already found hints of liquid water on Mars... now, they want to take a close look at it. NASA has revealed that the Curiosity rover will investigate recurring slope lineae (those streaks you see above) around Mars' Gale Crater in hopes of finding water. It'll first take a photo with its mast camera to verify that there's water in the first place. If there is, the machine will head over to collect samples. The agency would like to take those photos within a year, so you wouldn't have to wait too long to get answers.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/25/curiosity-rover-may-sample-mars-water/
The quoted article seems to be inaccurate to me. The actual NASA release says nothing about sampling, only approaching within range to image with RMI (a few km) http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1915

If the RSLs are in fact driven by water, that would make it a "special" region and pretty much rule out approaching close enough to sample anything.

Quoting from the nasa release
Quote
“It’s not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?”

Quote
There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity’s reach, on the side of the 3.1-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp. The rover’s Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.

How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? “That’s exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process,” said Catharine Conley, NASA’s planetary protection officer. “Kilometers away -- it’s unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay.”

Offline sghill

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #7 on: 07/01/2016 06:53 PM »
It'll be nice to see Curiosity getting back into the mainstream media.
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Offline gospacex

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #8 on: 07/01/2016 09:58 PM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.

Offline Star One

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #9 on: 07/02/2016 08:22 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.

In this case I don't thing as being too paranoid about protection, better than some overly  cavalier attitude.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #10 on: 07/05/2016 01:00 AM »
I heard about this nine months ago. It's been in close-held discussion for quite awhile. They have been running simulations to try and figure out how much the vehicle has been sterilized since it has been on the surface. The tires are clean now, because they've been scraped by kilometers of Martian dirt. The surfaces of the vehicle have also been baked by UV and other radiation. So they're trying to determine how clean that makes them. Plus, if they're not going to touch the dirt, there should be no problem.

The real question would be any part of the rover that they want to touch the dirt with. How dirty is it after all this time? Can they make a convincing case to the PP people?

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #11 on: 07/05/2016 01:41 PM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #12 on: 07/05/2016 02:21 PM »
Is there any more information on these RSL on Mt Sharp? I wasn't aware there even were any!!
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #13 on: 07/05/2016 03:04 PM »
Is there any more information on these RSL on Mt Sharp? I wasn't aware there even were any!!

Dig around. I think it was in a press release last August or September. I don't know a lot of details, but I think they are much more ambiguous than the other ones. Not as good.

Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #14 on: 07/11/2016 06:43 AM »
New related paper.

Geologic context of recurring slope lineae in Melas and Coprates Chasmata, Mars

Quote
Abstract

One of the major Mars discoveries of recent years is the existence of recurring slope lineae (RSL), which suggests that liquid water occurs on or near the surface of Mars today. These dark and narrow features emerge from steep, rocky exposures and incrementally grow, fade, and reform on a seasonal basis and are detected in images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera. RSL are known to occur at scattered midlatitude and equatorial sites with little spatial connection to one another. One major exception is the steep, low-albedo slopes of Melas and Coprates Chasmata, in Valles Marineris where RSL are detected among diverse geologic surfaces (e.g., bedrock and talus) and landforms (e.g., inselbergs and landslides). New images show topographic changes including sediment deposition on active RSL slopes. Midwall locations in Coprates and Melas appear to have more areally extensively abundant RSL and related fans as compared with other RSL sites found on Mars. Water budget estimates for regional RSL are on the order of 105 to 106 m3 of fluid, for depths of 10 to 100 mm, and suggest that a significant amount of near-surface water might be present. Many RSL are concentrated near local topographic highs, such as ridge crests or peaks, which is challenging to explain via groundwater or ice without a recharge mechanism. Collectively, results provide additional support for the notion that significant amounts of near-surface water can be found on Mars today and suggest that a widespread mechanism, possibly related to the atmosphere, is recharging RSL sources.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JE004991/full

Summation article.

Bad News, Wannabe Martians: The Water on Mars May Not Be Drinkable

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a21744/water-mars-not-drinkable/
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 06:46 AM by Star One »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #15 on: 07/23/2016 06:02 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #16 on: 07/23/2016 06:05 AM »
I heard about this nine months ago. It's been in close-held discussion for quite awhile. They have been running simulations to try and figure out how much the vehicle has been sterilized since it has been on the surface. The tires are clean now, because they've been scraped by kilometers of Martian dirt. The surfaces of the vehicle have also been baked by UV and other radiation. So they're trying to determine how clean that makes them. Plus, if they're not going to touch the dirt, there should be no problem.

The real question would be any part of the rover that they want to touch the dirt with. How dirty is it after all this time? Can they make a convincing case to the PP people?

It's going to be difficult to study the RSL without getting into some contact with it.  Other than oblique high resolution imagery and some elemental chemistry from CheMin.

Ideally you would want to get a DAN profile across one, plus sample the RSL itself with a scoop and run it through SAM.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #17 on: 07/23/2016 06:06 AM »
Is there any more information on these RSL on Mt Sharp? I wasn't aware there even were any!!

Dig around. I think it was in a press release last August or September. I don't know a lot of details, but I think they are much more ambiguous than the other ones. Not as good.

Has there been any peer reviewed publication?  I am not aware of anything except a passing reference in a media release.
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Offline redliox

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #18 on: 07/23/2016 10:46 AM »
Regarding RSL at Gale Crater, I haven't seen any obvious news sources although thanks to twitter I finally found this:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6542
Quote
Ever since it was announced that there may be evidence of liquid water on present-day Mars, NASA scientists have wondered how best to further investigate these long, seasonally changing dark streaks in the hope of finding evidence of life -- past or present -- on the Red Planet.

"It's not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil," said Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science. "Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?"

Pending approval of a mission extension, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will continue to climb to progressively higher and younger strata on Mount Sharp, investigating how long the ancient, water-rich environments found so far persisted as Mars dried out. Reaching those destinations would bring the rover closer to locations where dark streaks are present on some slopes. On the way, the route would allow the one-ton rover to capture images of the potential water sites from miles away and see if any are the seasonally changing type.

The features of interest have been observed by NASA's High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). They appear as dark lines that appear to ebb and flow over time. Planetary scientists think these gullies or recurring slope lineae (RSLs) may appear seasonally as a form of briny water at or near the surface of the Red Planet under warmer conditions.

There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity's reach, on the side of the 3.1-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp. The rover's Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.

How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? "That's exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process," said Catharine Conley, NASA's planetary protection officer. "Kilometers away -- it's unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay."

So, basically, Curiosity will image the RSL at Gale Crater from the top of Mount Sharp, but not likely get anywhere near them physically.  The drive over to them would be far enough even if it were a straight line, which is complicated by the fact you're driving a rover down a mountain, weaving through sharp rocks, and using wheels that have already been punctured.  So, even with another mission extension in the future, it's unlikely Curiosity will visit the RSL even ignoring contamination concerns.

I think Curiosity will be occupied enough with sifting through its mountain for would-be-fossil-beds.  The real question to ponder should be whether Mars 2020 will sample a RSL; a few tubes pulled out of them ought to settle whether Mars is currently habitable or not.
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #19 on: 07/23/2016 11:08 AM »
Regarding RSL at Gale Crater, I haven't seen any obvious news sources although thanks to twitter I finally found this:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6542
Quote
Ever since it was announced that there may be evidence of liquid water on present-day Mars, NASA scientists have wondered how best to further investigate these long, seasonally changing dark streaks in the hope of finding evidence of life -- past or present -- on the Red Planet.

"It's not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil," said Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science. "Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?"

Pending approval of a mission extension, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will continue to climb to progressively higher and younger strata on Mount Sharp, investigating how long the ancient, water-rich environments found so far persisted as Mars dried out. Reaching those destinations would bring the rover closer to locations where dark streaks are present on some slopes. On the way, the route would allow the one-ton rover to capture images of the potential water sites from miles away and see if any are the seasonally changing type.

The features of interest have been observed by NASA's High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). They appear as dark lines that appear to ebb and flow over time. Planetary scientists think these gullies or recurring slope lineae (RSLs) may appear seasonally as a form of briny water at or near the surface of the Red Planet under warmer conditions.

There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity's reach, on the side of the 3.1-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp. The rover's Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.

How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? "That's exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process," said Catharine Conley, NASA's planetary protection officer. "Kilometers away -- it's unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay."

So, basically, Curiosity will image the RSL at Gale Crater from the top of Mount Sharp, but not likely get anywhere near them physically.  The drive over to them would be far enough even if it were a straight line, which is complicated by the fact you're driving a rover down a mountain, weaving through sharp rocks, and using wheels that have already been punctured.  So, even with another mission extension in the future, it's unlikely Curiosity will visit the RSL even ignoring contamination concerns.

I think Curiosity will be occupied enough with sifting through its mountain for would-be-fossil-beds.  The real question to ponder should be whether Mars 2020 will sample a RSL; a few tubes pulled out of them ought to settle whether Mars is currently habitable or not.

The two sites are not that far from the proposed route up Mount Sharp, and would require only relatively minor detours. They are nowhere near the top.  Mind you it may take several more years to get anywhere near them.....
« Last Edit: 07/23/2016 11:09 AM by Dalhousie »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #20 on: 07/23/2016 01:54 PM »
You can't prove a negative. There's really no way to prove Mars didn't have or doesn't have life.

Which definitely doesn't mean we shouldn't look or go.
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #21 on: 07/23/2016 11:45 PM »
You can't prove a negative. There's really no way to prove Mars didn't have or doesn't have life.

Which definitely doesn't mean we shouldn't look or go.

You can't prove a negative, but you can end up assigning something a high probability of not being the case.  You can also rephrase the question in such a way so that the absence of lie becomes a positive statement, e.g.

Hypothesis:The Martian surface as always been abiogenic.

Falsification: Discovery of features indicative of past or present life e.g. 1) Discovery of enrichment of light isotopes of carbon, sulphur, and nitrogen. 2) Discovery of biologic organic molecules - strongly chiral, non random molecular weight distributions. 3) Discovery of highly organised and patterned structures in suitable substrates without plausible abiogenic explanation (e.g. fossils).  4) Discovery of strong thermodynamic chemical disequilibria without plausible abiogenic explanation. 5) Discovery of parallel metabolic-like synthesis and/or breakdown of nutrients and organic compounds.  Etc., etc. etc.

The hypotheses that there is life on Mars or that Mars is abiogenic are not simple hypotheses but bundles of inter-connected hypotheses, with testing happening in parallel. We have to avoid being naively Popperian in our methodology.

Remember that even now, after decades of work, not everyone is convinced that there was life on the Archean Earth.  Although there almost certainly was, IMHO.
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Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #22 on: 07/24/2016 12:22 AM »
Remember that even now, after decades of work, not everyone is convinced that there was life on the Archean Earth.  Although there almost certainly was, IMHO.

The explosive (not really, but you know what I mean) march of life across the early Earth really does imply lots of viable precursors/attempts/follies or even panspermia here and elsewhere. Even in the 'simple' early times, it looks like things were never simple or early! The implication of the surprisingly fast spread of life in the not terribly nice early Earth environment is that it also kicked off elsewhere whenever it could - but remember that 'life' need not be more than highly evolved and rather efficient slime with becoming a stromatolite as a career objective...

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #23 on: 07/24/2016 07:42 AM »
Remember that even now, after decades of work, not everyone is convinced that there was life on the Archean Earth.  Although there almost certainly was, IMHO.

The explosive (not really, but you know what I mean) march of life across the early Earth really does imply lots of viable precursors/attempts/follies or even panspermia here and elsewhere. Even in the 'simple' early times, it looks like things were never simple or early! The implication of the surprisingly fast spread of life in the not terribly nice early Earth environment is that it also kicked off elsewhere whenever it could - but remember that 'life' need not be more than highly evolved and rather efficient slime with becoming a stromatolite as a career objective...

Nice way of putting it.  But don't forget evidence of life is rare in rocks older than 3 Ga, uncommon in rocks 1.8-3 Ga, and it isn't until after about 1.8 Ga that it becomes geologically common.  You can traverse kilometres of geological section in Archean rocks and not find any evidence of life. 
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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #24 on: 07/27/2016 01:55 AM »
Remember that even now, after decades of work, not everyone is convinced that there was life on the Archean Earth.  Although there almost certainly was, IMHO.

The explosive (not really, but you know what I mean) march of life across the early Earth really does imply lots of viable precursors/attempts/follies or even panspermia here and elsewhere. Even in the 'simple' early times, it looks like things were never simple or early! The implication of the surprisingly fast spread of life in the not terribly nice early Earth environment is that it also kicked off elsewhere whenever it could - but remember that 'life' need not be more than highly evolved and rather efficient slime with becoming a stromatolite as a career objective...

Nice way of putting it.  But don't forget evidence of life is rare in rocks older than 3 Ga, uncommon in rocks 1.8-3 Ga, and it isn't until after about 1.8 Ga that it becomes geologically common.  You can traverse kilometres of geological section in Archean rocks and not find any evidence of life.
Is there abundant evidence for life in metamorphosed rock from the most recent billion years?
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #25 on: 07/27/2016 06:52 AM »
Remember that even now, after decades of work, not everyone is convinced that there was life on the Archean Earth.  Although there almost certainly was, IMHO.

The explosive (not really, but you know what I mean) march of life across the early Earth really does imply lots of viable precursors/attempts/follies or even panspermia here and elsewhere. Even in the 'simple' early times, it looks like things were never simple or early! The implication of the surprisingly fast spread of life in the not terribly nice early Earth environment is that it also kicked off elsewhere whenever it could - but remember that 'life' need not be more than highly evolved and rather efficient slime with becoming a stromatolite as a career objective...

Nice way of putting it.  But don't forget evidence of life is rare in rocks older than 3 Ga, uncommon in rocks 1.8-3 Ga, and it isn't until after about 1.8 Ga that it becomes geologically common.  You can traverse kilometres of geological section in Archean rocks and not find any evidence of life.
Is there abundant evidence for life in metamorphosed rock from the most recent billion years?

Strongly metamorphic rocks of any age generally don't preserve good evidence for life. By "strongly" I mean anything above middle greenschist facies, see for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamorphic_facies for explanation.

Mid-greenschist facies rocks can show fossils, sedimentary and volcanic structures, some biomarkers, and sometimes, original isotopic signatures, such as these from the Pilbara WA (stromatolites and pillow lavas).

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Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #26 on: 09/08/2016 07:28 PM »
Mars contamination fear could divert Curiosity rover

NASA must avoid spreading Earth microbes to suspected water in hillside streaks.

Quote
Curiosity is currently about 5 kilometres away from the potential RSLs; on its current projected path, it would never get any closer than about 2 kilometres, Vasavada says. The rover could not physically drive up and touch the streaks if it wanted to, because it cannot navigate the slopes of 25 degrees or greater on which they appear.

But the rover’s sheer unexpected proximity to potential RSLs has NASA re-evaluating its planetary-protection protocols. Curiosity was only partly sterilized before going to Mars, and experts at JPL and NASA headquarters in Washington DC are calculating how long the remaining microbes could survive in Mars’s harsh atmosphere — as well as what weather conditions could transport them several kilometres away and possibly contaminate a water seep. “That hasn’t been well quantified for any mission,” says Vasavada.

http://www.nature.com/news/mars-contamination-fear-could-divert-curiosity-rover-1.20544
« Last Edit: 09/08/2016 07:32 PM by Star One »

Offline savuporo

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #27 on: 09/09/2016 01:20 AM »
Someone should run a public opinion poll for approach/don't approach, just to amp up the pressure. Hey even a NSF poll would be cool
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Offline Star One

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #28 on: 09/09/2016 06:19 AM »
Someone should run a public opinion poll for approach/don't approach, just to amp up the pressure. Hey even a NSF poll would be cool

One minute they are going to check them out, the next minute it's oh we must keep many kilometres away.

Offline hop

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #29 on: 09/09/2016 06:34 AM »
One minute they are going to check them out, the next minute it's oh we must keep many kilometres away.
Not true. As I pointed out before, no one from the mission ever said they were going to get close. At the most, they were analyzing how close they could get.

Online vaporcobra

Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #30 on: 09/09/2016 08:07 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.

And what exactly would the purpose be of doing work that is potentially flawed to the point of being worse than doing nothing? In the world of sciences, it is generally best to avoid gathering data that is flawed or of which the accuracy is uncertain (hence possibly contaminated biological samples).

Gathering such data can indeed often be better than nothing and allow for some hypotheses to be evaluated beyond reasonable doubt, but in some cases (life sciences in particular) it is more likely to lead one astray then to benefit them scientifically.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #31 on: 09/09/2016 02:16 PM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.
No it isn't. If you can't guarantee your samples aren't pure, there literally is no point in taking them. It the same as a surgeon saying "I can't be too paranoid about the sterility of my scalpel, as that means I can't operate". If there isn't a good enough guarantee the scalpel is sterile, the surgery is off. This is exactly the same. If they can't guarantee the sterility of MSLs instruments, there is no point in sampling.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #32 on: 09/09/2016 06:06 PM »
In the world of sciences, it is generally best to avoid gathering data that is flawed or of which the accuracy is uncertain (hence possibly contaminated biological samples).
It's not ever as clear cut as that. Time and again flawed datasets with large uncertainties have been revisited, sometimes decades later, with new analysis methods, cross referencing and complementary newer data etc.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #33 on: 09/10/2016 05:48 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.

And what exactly would the purpose be of doing work that is potentially flawed to the point of being worse than doing nothing? In the world of sciences, it is generally best to avoid gathering data that is flawed or of which the accuracy is uncertain (hence possibly contaminated biological samples).

Gathering such data can indeed often be better than nothing and allow for some hypotheses to be evaluated beyond reasonable doubt, but in some cases (life sciences in particular) it is more likely to lead one astray then to benefit them scientifically.

What makes you think the data is so flawed as to be worse than doing nothing?  Its hard to think of a scenario in this case where this would be the case?
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #34 on: 09/10/2016 05:49 AM »
In the world of sciences, it is generally best to avoid gathering data that is flawed or of which the accuracy is uncertain (hence possibly contaminated biological samples).
It's not ever as clear cut as that. Time and again flawed datasets with large uncertainties have been revisited, sometimes decades later, with new analysis methods, cross referencing and complementary newer data etc.

Classic example being the Pathfinder APXS data.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #35 on: 09/10/2016 11:22 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.

And what exactly would the purpose be of doing work that is potentially flawed to the point of being worse than doing nothing? In the world of sciences, it is generally best to avoid gathering data that is flawed or of which the accuracy is uncertain (hence possibly contaminated biological samples).

Gathering such data can indeed often be better than nothing and allow for some hypotheses to be evaluated beyond reasonable doubt, but in some cases (life sciences in particular) it is more likely to lead one astray then to benefit them scientifically.

What makes you think the data is so flawed as to be worse than doing nothing?  Its hard to think of a scenario in this case where this would be the case?
It's very easy to do that; where contaminations aren't recognised as such and give you false positives.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #36 on: 09/11/2016 04:13 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.

And what exactly would the purpose be of doing work that is potentially flawed to the point of being worse than doing nothing? In the world of sciences, it is generally best to avoid gathering data that is flawed or of which the accuracy is uncertain (hence possibly contaminated biological samples).

Gathering such data can indeed often be better than nothing and allow for some hypotheses to be evaluated beyond reasonable doubt, but in some cases (life sciences in particular) it is more likely to lead one astray then to benefit them scientifically.

What makes you think the data is so flawed as to be worse than doing nothing?  Its hard to think of a scenario in this case where this would be the case?
It's very easy to do that; where contaminations aren't recognised as such and give you false positives.

Which is why people in this case would work carefully with the data to minimise the problem.  We know how clean the rover was when launched, we have ultraclean experimental blanks for the SAM suite, we can model the effects of more than four years (probably six or more by the time they get there) exposure to the martian environment.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2016 04:15 AM by Dalhousie »
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline ccdengr

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #37 on: 09/15/2016 02:46 AM »
How far can the Chemcam be and still get a return from a wet surface?
7 meters is the max distance for a usable LIBS analysis.

http://spaceflight101.com/msl/chemcam-instrument-overview/

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