Carnival of Space 643 – Large Parts of Mars has Water 1-12 Inches from Surface

The Carnival of Space 643 is up at the Urban Astronomer.

Universe Today -NASA Maps Out the Water On Mars. Some Will Be So Easy to Get, You Could Dig it Out With a Shovel.

This rainbow-colored map shows underground water ice on Mars. Cool colors represent less than one foot (30 centimeters) below the surface; warm colors are over two feet (60 centimeters) deep. Sprawling black zones on the map represent areas where a landing spacecraft would sink into fine dust. The outlined box represents the ideal region to send astronauts for them to be able to dig up water ice. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

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27 thoughts on “Carnival of Space 643 – Large Parts of Mars has Water 1-12 Inches from Surface”

  1. This is so cool. Billions of tons of easy to reach and mine water on Mars. Not only for drinking, farming etc, but to make hydrogen and oxygen. Former as local fuel in abundance, the latter to live on, and potential rocket fuel.

    This and other papers reckon 14% of Mars has ice within 1meter under the surface. Say it’s about 75% water content (they think somewhere between 68-85%) and 1 meter in thickness. It could mean about 17 million cubic km of water lying directly under the soil. Or about twice the volume of the Mediterranean.

  2. They think it is actually quite concentrated because their radar sensitivity is such that if it’s ice, it really is ice. At least that is how the researchers explain it (sorry the doi is behind a paywall). They use an Antarctic-equivalent baseline where ice pores that show similar radar signatures have a 86-83% water content. Basically, dirty ice but a lot of water content, and very close to the surface (within 1m).

    Also, the radar can’t penetrate that deep, only a few meters, so they assume that not only is there probably a lot more ice on Mars, but that there should be a substantial amount with low water content (eg your frozen moist dirt).

  3. It’s refreshing to find someone who is made uncomfortable not by the fact that life might exist outside Earth, but how we might affect it and how we would deal with that life. Anthropology for the win!

    Although, even if we found “intelligent” life elsewhere, there could be social and cultural contamination. But, that’s really species intermingling, which is a wholly different conversation.

  4. You’ve had it explained to you multiple times and ways that that simply isn’t true and at this point you’re simply trolling.

    Please stop, or at least stop responding to my posts with this nonsense.

  5. Hi all, it’s good to hear there’s so much water around.
    The Mars Society held a competition to design colonies for 1000 people.
    While I like everything Mars, I really like the second place prize winner here, Team Twardowski. They selected their colony site around a number of criteria, mainly being resources, latitude, altitude, etc. Go to the second entry down and check the Gallery! Not only does it have sheer volumes of space, but it also includes outside mirrors shining non-radioactive light at the aquaponics farms high on the left.
    Here’s their youtube.
    I also like the “Guild” arrangement of labor in this colony design. There’s an over-arching government, but in emergency situations the Guild responsible for that sector of the economy can have certain emergency powers, which makes sense to me. At least when there’s only 1000 people in your colony!
    The first place winners “Star City” feels a bit like the Epcot center.
    What do others think?

  6. I have been wondering about both the landing and take off for years. I suppose that there might be a stone plateau somewhere on Mars that would make a nice landing pad. But it is going to make things a bit inconvenient if you land hundreds of miles from the nearest watering hole.

  7. On the particular wording, think of “we want to live in Space” as a mirror to the strong warning “you don’t want to do that”, which is used if there is no time to waste with explanations. Same for O’Neill. We DO want to live in Space. It is not an opinion, only new.

  8. So, then all the white area means no water? That’s kind of a bummer if you want to hang out in Marineris or anywhere warm. Hmm, what is the difference in the type of insulation or temperature control you’d need in a space suit on Mars given a Mars summer day near the equator vs at the pole in winter? Also Night vs Day?

  9. You mean the way Mars Only thinking has delayed lunar ISRU for 40 years? Even tho it would have helped Mars projects?

  10. I don’t want Mars settled first, no problem eventually, unless there is life there. Now that Mars Direct/Only/First has been questioned, it is time to question Mars at all. The presence of Mars makes no difference in O’Neill’s observations about Earth v Space living.

  11. See, that is the problem I am trying to correct. You are lost in descriptions of what people believe, not the important realization that they are mostly wrong. Fighting incorrect assumptions, as O’Neill did, is what I do. Obviously needed from the facts you state.
    “huge disparities in the investment required.” is the basic problem most do not see. It is far easier to live in Space than on Earth, let alone Mars.

  12. But you actively don’t want Mars colonized, so of course you’re going to hold that opinion.

    I don’t think we NEED quarantine: Earth life that gets brought with us is going to be at a very bad competitive disadvantage against any native Martian life. It’s not like we’re going to deliberately bring Earthly lithophiles. And any Martian life is almost certainly going to be underground chemosynthetic life in rock pores and aquifers.

    At worst discovery of Martian life might suggest delaying any terraforming efforts.

  13. I wonder how big a problem that’d be… they do shoot water under rockets as they launch after all. If the ice is thick enough that the rocket digs a pit, that would be a problem though.

  14. You assume we want to live on tiny planets.

    I assume that many, many people want to live on planets, and I base my assumption on the observable fact that proposals to settle Mars get far more support, far more publicity, and far more actual investment than proposals to live in freefall.

    Given the evidence that is observable in this field, I think that the default assumption has to be that people want to live on planets and any claim that they do not is left with the burden of proof.

    Don’t confuse this with the claim that planets are the BEST place for long term human expansion. This is not the same question and assuming that “where people want to live” and “where they would be best off living” is the same question is just going to lead to confusion.

    I would also point out that the short term question of “where should humans go next” is also a different question. In this case I think the rate determining step is probably public and financial support, and hence the most popular option is the best option absent huge disparities in the investment required.

  15. I’m not much worried about contamination either direction, but you KNOW there will be fear-mongering over it, and on the other side there’ll be the red-greens who want to protect Martian bacteria or whatever from Earth contamination, and of course the scientists who think Earth contamination of Mars will prevent them from studying the Mars life successfully will also weigh in. Etc.

    Since it costs them practically nothing and in fact allows shifting budget away from Mars, politicians will feel they must “do something”, which (since they have no idea what that something is) will mean banning Mars expeditions or even robotic missions until the ‘issue has been studied’ and ‘a plan has been made’. I.e. it’s a great excuse to do nothing much for another decade or two, let alone anything expensive.

  16. You assume we want to live on tiny planets. Settle Space. Life on Mars would be a reason to be very careful even during Science missions. A sterile Mars is just a planet, not a good place to live.

  17. Depends what the word “ice” means. And no, the original article didn’t elucidate.

    Does it mean
    –solid frozen water, with a layer of dirt on top?
    — frozen mud, with say 30% water by weight?
    — frozen moist dirt, say 5% water?
    — cold dirt with detectable levels of moisture say 1%?

  18. I don’t know if it is clear either way that humanity would benefit more from a Mars we can colonise or the wealth of biological science and new biochemistry we would get from studying an entire alien biosphere.

  19. Much harder to have gone from Earth to Mars, but not impossible. Older Mars life would be worth quarantine, in my and many’s opinion.

  20. If you are worried about contamination. That already happened. if fact some think life on earth my have come from Mars since Mars might have been hospitable earlier than earth.

  21. There is water underground. True for Mars, and probable true for the moon. Just because the surface is dry does not mean the planet is dry. And don’t be surprised if we find life underground on Mars.

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