Author Topic: Mars Express discovery reopens questions for future Martian Exploration  (Read 5444 times)


Offline Bob Shaw

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I’m wary about claims like this from the Mars Express team - they always seem a bit out of step with everyone else in their enthusiasm for water. Anyone else remember the ‘frozen sea and icebergs’ announcement?
« Last Edit: 07/27/2018 08:47 pm by Bob Shaw »

Offline sghill

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I’m wary about claims like this from the Mars Express team - they always seem a bit out of step with everyone else in their enthusiasm for water. Anyone else remember the ‘frozen sea and icebergs’ announcement?

The Italian team used two years worth of analysis and observation to gather extraordinary proof before making this extraordinary claim.

For those in the know, I have a question. Is there an upcoming orbiter that could be equipped with an instrument better optimized to look for and map more lakes? There can't be just one.

Btw:

https://www.theonion.com/world-eating-leviathan-awoken-from-500-million-year-slu-1827928509?utm
« Last Edit: 07/28/2018 01:20 am by sghill »
Bring the thunder!

Offline su27k

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Just another reason to fast track landing humans on Mars, need to get this done before extremists can make an issue out of "protection of Martian microbes".

Offline Russel

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As I said on the other thread, even if colonisation were a good idea (and I'd dearly love to to start a thread pointing out why it isn't), this is a source of water that is useless to colonists. Or put simply, there are easier ways to get water on Mars.

I'd rather talk about the scientific value of this.

Offline Star One

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I’m wary about claims like this from the Mars Express team - they always seem a bit out of step with everyone else in their enthusiasm for water. Anyone else remember the ‘frozen sea and icebergs’ announcement?

The Italian team used two years worth of analysis and observation to gather extraordinary proof before making this extraordinary claim.

For those in the know, I have a question. Is there an upcoming orbiter that could be equipped with an instrument better optimized to look for and map more lakes? There can't be just one.

Btw:

https://www.theonion.com/world-eating-leviathan-awoken-from-500-million-year-slu-1827928509?utm

I thought it was three years of data?

Offline ThereIWas3

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I do not think human explorers on the surface of Mars would be able to resolve this any better than specialized radar satellites in orbit.  The evidence one way or the other is way down, not lying about on the surface.
"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline Robotbeat

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I do not think human explorers on the surface of Mars would be able to resolve this any better than specialized radar satellites in orbit.  The evidence one way or the other is way down, not lying about on the surface.
You need the humans to build the drill rig necessary to reach this. We did exactly the same thing at Lake Vostok in Antarctica.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Selenaut

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If the goal is to confirm the liquid water existence the easiest way is with geoelectrical methods (like for example http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.402.1082&rep=rep1&type=pdf). The weight butget for all the equipment can be well bellow 300 Kg.

If the goal is to pump this water out for analyses we need to drill deep and  consider the following:

- The weight budget just for drill pipe (@ 10Kg/meter) is 15 tons.
- Without any knowledge of the geomecanics and borehole stability we'd better use a secure casing design. Add at least 30 tons more of tubes.
- In any case the chances of success (reach the planned depth without getting stuck) remain high for any well drilled far from well known areas in earth: hence the name wildcats. This is just the next level of wild

I personaly believe that there is a lot of geo-value to collect by other means before we venture into mars drilling ops.

Offline TripleSeven

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Just another reason to fast track landing humans on Mars, need to get this done before extremists can make an issue out of "protection of Martian microbes".

Humans would be the worst tool for this...sophisticated probes and robots would be far better

Offline fthomassy

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I really appreciate the perspective of this article. Nice work by Chris Gebhardt :D 8) It is important to think about these questions and we may as well "navel gaze" before we take serious steps along the path of human presence where there might be life. Kudos to Chris for posing the right questions, I'd be interested in OpEds posing answers.

I don't have a strong opinion on the effort we (humans) should put into preserving Mars (or any other object) in some pristine state (do we create a Mars Polar Preserve for Microbial Life?, seems unlikely). I certainly bias toward exploration and (if possible) exploitation.

Even without the consideration of life, what about changing the face of these objects? Is it "right" to change the way Mars (or the Moon for that matter) looks? What rules do we follow? There are many other questions!!
gyatm . . . Fern

Offline Torbjorn Larsson, OM

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The infection scenario in the article seems to be beside the point, those are most often evolved between close lineages and autotrophs do not infect. Besides the specific lake is likely sterile (too salt, too cold).

If the goal is to confirm the liquid water existence the easiest way is with geoelectrical methods (like for example http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.402.1082&rep=rep1&type=pdf). The weight butget for all the equipment can be well bellow 300 Kg.

If the goal is to pump this water out for analyses we need to drill deep and  consider the following:

- The weight budget just for drill pipe (@ 10Kg/meter) is 15 tons.
- Without any knowledge of the geomecanics and borehole stability we'd better use a secure casing design. Add at least 30 tons more of tubes.
- In any case the chances of success (reach the planned depth without getting stuck) remain high for any well drilled far from well known areas in earth: hence the name wildcats. This is just the next level of wild

I personaly believe that there is a lot of geo-value to collect by other means before we venture into mars drilling ops.

The mass and drill difficulties is why projects have looked at melt probes, right?

That specific lake has likely less science value than others. But it looks like a good target for technology development compared to the ice moons that are the most exciting target; it is closer, have higher surface gravity and higher insolation.

Offline Bob Shaw

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I’m wary about claims like this from the Mars Express team - they always seem a bit out of step with everyone else in their enthusiasm for water. Anyone else remember the ‘frozen sea and icebergs’ announcement?

The Italian team used two years worth of analysis and observation to gather extraordinary proof before making this extraordinary claim.

For those in the know, I have a question. Is there an upcoming orbiter that could be equipped with an instrument better optimized to look for and map more lakes? There can't be just one.

Btw:

https://www.theonion.com/world-eating-leviathan-awoken-from-500-million-year-slu-1827928509?utm

Perhaps, true, but...

http://www.psi.edu/pgwg/images/oct07image.html

Online redliox

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I'd say 2 things might help to figure out how to handle Mars, both of which current or upcoming missions will delve into:

1) Where is methane being emitted from?
2) How extensive is Mars' underground water?

Robots probably could land anywhere and not really contaminate much.  Except for ensuring extra cleaning for missions to the lakes regions, I don't think the discovery changes much for robots overall.  Humans on the other hand...

Based on what Odyssey found regarding surface ice, most of the Martian equator is dry and (assuming a water-based ecology) probably sterile.  The closer to the poles, the more water and ice in general.  The lake discovery seems to fit this, although it's not unreasonable to suspect ice and lakes could exist near the equator; however in the 15 years 'Express and MRO have been orbiting we've only found water by the south pole, not the equator.  So the lakes probably only exist where water ice is abundant.

Eventually I would think the IAU and UN would make a call on where humans could land and eventually settle.  I would assume the equator and most of the mid-latitudes would be alright.  The lakes and ice caps could be treated as an interplanetary reserve.

Too soon to make any calls; just send a few more robots to pin down the lakes and methane and, assuming humans spearhead swiftly, keep humans near the dry equator.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
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Offline su27k

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Just another reason to fast track landing humans on Mars, need to get this done before extremists can make an issue out of "protection of Martian microbes".

Humans would be the worst tool for this...sophisticated probes and robots would be far better

You may have misunderstood me. When I say " need to get this done", I meant landing humans on Mars (and building a base/colony), not investigating this lake.

Offline Robotbeat

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The infection scenario in the article seems to be beside the point, those are most often evolved between close lineages and autotrophs do not infect. Besides the specific lake is likely sterile (too salt, too cold).

If the goal is to confirm the liquid water existence the easiest way is with geoelectrical methods (like for example http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.402.1082&rep=rep1&type=pdf). The weight butget for all the equipment can be well bellow 300 Kg.

If the goal is to pump this water out for analyses we need to drill deep and  consider the following:

- The weight budget just for drill pipe (@ 10Kg/meter) is 15 tons.
- Without any knowledge of the geomecanics and borehole stability we'd better use a secure casing design. Add at least 30 tons more of tubes.
- In any case the chances of success (reach the planned depth without getting stuck) remain high for any well drilled far from well known areas in earth: hence the name wildcats. This is just the next level of wild

I personaly believe that there is a lot of geo-value to collect by other means before we venture into mars drilling ops.

The mass and drill difficulties is why projects have looked at melt probes, right?

That specific lake has likely less science value than others. But it looks like a good target for technology development compared to the ice moons that are the most exciting target; it is closer, have higher surface gravity and higher insolation.
I just looked at the small melt drill rigs used in Antarctica for just this purpose, and even for a hole down to just 500m, you need about 500kW of heat. That's a dozen of the biggest kilopowers you've got. That's about the same mass as the drill, and again, that's just for 500m.

Maybe you can be more efficient, but this is a very energy-intensive way of drilling.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline ThereIWas3

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If the goal is to get water as feedstock to ISRU processes, I think it would be easier to just melt the ice you are drilling through and use that water.  You have to melt it anyway and there is no point in going very deep for it other than to be getting H20 and not CO2 ice.

If the goal is to look for microbes for research, you do not need a very wide hole, and you might even be able to design a "one-way" probe that has a heated cable back to the surface with instruments on the end (particularly a microscope).  Once it melts its way to the water, the heat to the cable can be turned off and it just makes observations which are sent back to the surface over the cable.  Entire process automated?  Maybe.
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Offline Russel

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There is an easier way to create a hole. Just build a simple nuclear "reactor" designed purely to output heat (should be fairly compact). Start it up and let it melt its way down. Let gravity and physics do the work.

Not entirely sure if this isn't too unfriendly to the microbes you might wish to discover, but it does have the bonus of sterilising everything it touches, so cross contamination is less of an issue.

Offline Archibald

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Reminds me of Bradbury Martian chronicles, where the unfortunate martians are turned to ash by chickenpox.
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Offline Robotbeat

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There is an easier way to create a hole. Just build a simple nuclear "reactor" designed purely to output heat (should be fairly compact). Start it up and let it melt its way down. Let gravity and physics do the work.

Not entirely sure if this isn't too unfriendly to the microbes you might wish to discover, but it does have the bonus of sterilising everything it touches, so cross contamination is less of an issue.
Still needs like ~1MWth output, a lot more than the 43kWth output Kilopower units.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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