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#76 2004-07-13 08:00:34

Josh Cryer
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Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

It was like 2AM when I wrote that. I usually have a choice, sleep or play around on the internet. I chose the latter.  tongue

edit, oops, didn't answer your question: I'm saying I have the opinion that yes, life probably survived any hurdles that came at it. The lost of atmo, the loss of planetary magnetosphere, asteroid bombardment over long time periods. Deep underground lakes would be all you needed.



Edited By Josh Cryer on 1089727384


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#77 2004-07-13 08:09:24

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-mer … tml]Spirit tries out visual odometry

*Article discusses "Breadbox," "Sourdough" (who is doing the naming?? >frown<), night-time mini-thermal emission spectrometer and -- on Sol 177 -- studies of the "String of Pearls." 

Major update on Spirit.  Also, still having problems with that "arthritic" front wheel.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#78 2004-07-13 12:28:02

RobS
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Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

If bacteria evolved in the Noachian era, it is difficult to imagine they aren't still around today underground. The study of terrestrial extremophiles indicates that once life gets started, it has a remarkable tenacity. The conditions on the Martian surface are probably too harsh for life today, but anywhere there is geothermal activity there will be inorganic compounds to oxidize or reduce, thereby obtaining energy for growth and reproduction.

The real question is, was Mars wet enough in the Noachian for long enough for life to evolve there, or get seeded from Earth? The answer for the latter possibility (seeded from Earth) is "probably." The Noachian evolution question is worth a few tens of billions of robotic exploration; it alone is probably worth sending humans to Mars, from a scientific point of view, because the presence and evolution of life on other worlds can have a profound existential, cultural, and social impact on humanity.

       -- RobS

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#79 2004-07-13 19:13:00

Yang Liwei Rocket
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Registered: 2004-03-03
Posts: 993

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

the spirit rover can view some nice mountain tops in the distance.

http://qt.exploratorium.edu/mars/spirit … ...7M1.JPG

nice picture from  opportunity rover

http://qt.exploratorium.edu/mars/opport … ...1M1.JPG


'first steps are not for cheap, think about it...
did China build a great Wall in a day ?' ( Y L R newmars forum member )

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#80 2004-07-14 05:40:42

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Yes, Rob, I agree with your comments.
    The question of whether or not Mars had clement conditions long enough for life to evolve there is indeed an extraordinarily fascinating one, deserving of major expenditure to answer because of its far-reaching implications.

    Thanks for stating your opinion that, regardless of the indigenous evolution of life, it's probable that terrestrial life found its way to Mars and survived during the earlier, wetter times.
    Either way, as you say, it's difficult to imagine how life could have failed to survive into the present, given our knowledge of how robust it can be.

    It's looking like more and more of us are coming around to the idea that Mars probably harbours life today.
    Given this change in outlook, as our knowledge of Mars gradually increases, and given the acute vision afforded us by virtue of our retrospectoscopes (!! ), does anyone here feel the need to revise their opinion of the results of the  Viking life-detection experiments?
    In other words, should we be re-visiting those results with a new attitude, especially in view of the fact that the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer, used to quash the tentatively positive outcomes of the life experiments, has since been found inadequate for the job?
                                        ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#81 2004-07-14 05:47:04

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Thanks, Cindy, for the news update about Spirit!   smile
    It's certainly doing lots of interesting stuff, albeit rather more slowly these days because of the power restrictions. I'm looking forward to seeing a summary of the findings when they're in.
    It's a great shame the 'arthritic' wheel (as you so aptly put it) doesn't seem to be getting any better. I hope they can 'work around it' and still get Spirit into those hills for a good look around!
                                         smile


Thanks also to Yang Liwei, for the pictures!   :up:


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#82 2004-07-15 23:30:38

Rxke
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From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

That arthritic wheel, now wouldn't it have anything to do with the digging exercises?

If they'd find life, be sure at least some more money will get rederected to send scientists there, 'just' equip your airlock with deep UV and clorine decontamination gizmos or something, if you want to keep it clean.

It would be the find of the century...

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#83 2004-07-16 00:07:45

RobS
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Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Thanks for asking about Viking, Shaun. I'll have to read the latest rethinking about the experiments. I was a graduate student, age 23, in 1976, working on the Viking mission under Tim Mutch, a geologist at Brown University. (Tim later lost his life climbing a mountain in the Himalayas; a large crater is named for him on Mars, just north of the Valles Marineris). I remember well how puzzled the biologists were when the life experiments were performed and the results were so unexpected. Then Robert Huguenin was called in and he explained the whole thing as peroxides and superoxides in the Martian soil. He had already published several papers predicting such compounds, but his papers were not well read because they were filled with pages and pages of head-scratching equations, and were on a topic that was rather esoteric to most Mars researchers. Anyway, Bob became a sort of hero; he went from an obscure researcher to our salvation.

I am still inclined to think that the Viking life science experiments detected peroxides rather than lifeforms. The single fact to remember about the Martian surface is that it is bombarded by strong ultraviolet radiation that will kill organisms in hours and will form peroxides. Combine that sterilizing radiation with cold and lack of water and you have an environment that is very harsh for life. I doubt terrestrial organisms, which will be released on Mars by the human presence, will do well. But in the Noachian conditions were much better, and they remain better underground.

         -- RobS

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#84 2004-07-17 06:17:29

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/ro … tml]Update on the MERs -- particularly Spirit

*Spirit has rolled over first rock outcrop, at West Spur.  "They may be some of the oldest rocks seen during Spirit's mission, dating back three or four billion years."

The "arthritic" wheel is performing 25% better after warming and lube, but they're avoiding using it as much as possible.

Also discusses wintering plans, with September 20 being the worst of the season.  Impending 13-day communication blackout as well: 

"Mars is also approaching solar conjunction -when it will be on the other side of the Sun from Earth - forcing a 13-day communication blackout with the rovers around mid-September."

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#85 2004-07-17 08:30:36

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Hi RobS!
    You make the points that the martian surface is cold, dry, and UV-drenched, which you use as evidence to support the idea that the soil is sterile and that the apparently positive Labeled Release (LR) results were due to peroxides.
    Recent data suggests that the top 1 metre of martian regolith is rich in water, even at the equator where it may consist of 2% water ice. Martian soil is evidently not as dry as we used to think. The fact that evaporites have been found indicates that water on Mars must be briny and may therefore remain liquid at very low temperatures and pressures. (Minus 20 deg.C and 1 mb, according to Dr Chris MacKay.)
    During at least some times of the year, in many places on Mars, the surface temperature rises above 0 deg.C for a few hours each day. This makes the likelihood of liquid briny water in the soil very high during much of the year over large areas of Mars - at least in the daytime.
    In addition, on Earth, some extremophile organisms such as halophilic bacteria have an exceptional resistance to solar radiation. How much more specialised in the field of UV resistance would we expect martian halophiles to have become under the high-UV conditions on Mars?

    My opinion is that our understanding of the martian environment, together with our newfound knowledge of just how tough bacteria can be, make the 'positive' results of the LR experiment much more interesting. In fact, all of the barriers to those results being of biological origin have been effectively removed by new data.
    Since there is now no reason why bacteria should not survive in the top 30 cms of martian soil, there is no need to devise complex oxidising soil chemistry to explain the results. Occam's Razor tells us to choose the least complicated of two possible scenarios.

    Now that we have methane, and probably ammonia, in non-equilibrium concentrations in the martian air, both being gases difficult to account for by any means other than biological, it seems the case for a biosphere is becoming difficult to deny.
    What do you think?
                                                 ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#86 2004-07-18 00:57:05

RobS
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Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Yes, I think you make a very good argument that the Viking results need to be reconsidered. We may have landed in two areas that are relatively dry (though Viking 2 saw patterned ground; it may not have been that dry there). Let's hope that by 2009 a whole new generation of exobiology experiments have been flown and we have better data.

        -- RobS

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#87 2004-07-18 01:54:52

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Thanks, Rob.
    I've always been impressed that we have among our number someone of your calibre, who was involved in the Viking missions. They were, after all, groundbreaking missions which revolutionised our understanding of Mars.
    For this reason, among others, your opinion in all this is important to me as a barometer of how much the new data about Mars and terrestrial extremophiles may be altering our views of the life-on-Mars question.

    Even since I registered at New Mars, about 2 years ago, the attitude to 'life-on-Mars' has changed. I believe most of that change has happened since the MERs have been doing their thing at Gusev and Meridiani.
    In the early days, I could feel the coldness in the air when I suggested Mars was alive, not dead. It's becoming much easier to raise the subject lately!
                                              smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#88 2004-07-18 11:22:22

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish … 1672004]So much for "25% better"  :-\

*Spirit's one "arthritic" wheel continues to perform so poorly that they're making it drive backwards.

"Engineers with NASA have decided to get Spirit to drive up the Columbia Hills backwards because of an ongoing problem with one of its wheels. The problem cropped up a few months ago, when one of its front wheels started getting extra resistance; they've tried heating it, and giving it rest, but nothing's worked. Spirit is now keeping the wheel locked, and then driving backwards, dragging it along like an anchor. This has saved power, but slowed down its speed a bit. Spirit will still use the wheel when it's trying to cross difficult terrain."

At least she's still going.  smile

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#89 2004-07-18 14:07:30

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

While I'm a pessimist by nature, and this wheel issue is not exactly making my day, to say the least,... I can't help but notice with a little smile, how throughout the last several weeks or so, the predictions for the rovers' winter survivability have improved tremendeously!

Originally, best estimates were some months of operation, ...then came the extended missions, ...then cautious murmurings about them maybe being able to hibernate through winter,... then plans to take atmospheric measurements during winter.
And now you begin to see casual comments like "we will probably wake the rovers a bit later, let them sleep a bit earlier during the deepest cold, or wake them every other day"

Impressive! What does this tell us? The rover architecture used now, is capable to do multi-year missions, if some adjustments are being implemented, the hardware certainly is sturdy enough! Use RTG's for power, don't use the wheels for digging, and you're all set.

Imagine a fleet of them, being operated by... volunteers (!) as described in RobS latest chapter of his http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1099]Mars Frontier Novel The technology is here: already you can download the needed software, to go looking for the best trajectory at home, imagine hundreds of people doing this, sending their results to a computer wich compares the outcome and uploads the result through DSN...

(Okaaay... Dreaming again...)

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#90 2004-07-19 02:47:31

Stephen
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Registered: 2004-01-16
Posts: 68

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Here's a pic of a rather http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … ous-shaped rock half-buried in the dust of a fissure (a little above centre-left) at the Meridani site. From pic's angle looks almost like a half-tipped-over fried egg. (Or a toy flying saucer.  :-)


======
Stephen

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#91 2004-07-19 06:24:54

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

That's pretty good optimistic dreaming for a self-confessed pessimist, Rik!!
    Now, if we could just persuade a few others here at New Mars to be as pessimistic as you are ...
                                           big_smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#92 2004-07-19 07:00:01

REB
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Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … .JPG]Check out the rock at the upper right hand corner.

Opportunity looks as thou it is near the bottum of the crater. I hope it goes and checks out that rock.


"Run for it? Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!"  -Earl Bassett

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#93 2004-07-19 07:03:15

REB
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Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

It looks like that rock has an over hang. It looks almost like an upside down L.


"Run for it? Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!"  -Earl Bassett

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#94 2004-07-19 07:13:16

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Hi REB!
    I don't think I can make out an overhang on that rock. Are you sure it's not just a trick of the light?

    What concerns me more, if Opportunity is at the bottom of the crater, is what happened to that so-called dune field - you know, the one that some of us thought looked like wind-sculpted, dust-covered, partially-sublimed ice!
    I definitely want a good close-up look at that.
                                          ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#95 2004-07-19 07:37:32

REB
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Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

It might just be a trick of light.

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … ML]Looking at this picture, from Sol171, Oppy looks like it is up near the rim again. That other picture was from a day or two before.

I don't know where Oppy is.


"Run for it? Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!"  -Earl Bassett

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#96 2004-07-19 12:40:53

cassioli
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From: Italy
Registered: 2004-02-23
Posts: 218

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Here's a pic of a rather http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … ous-shaped rock half-buried in the dust of a fissure (a little above centre-left) at the Meridani site. From pic's angle looks almost like a half-tipped-over fried egg. (Or a toy flying saucer.  :-)

I hope you are not talking about the "footprint" of  the rover's instrument... AGAIN! ???

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#97 2004-07-19 18:35:40

dicktice
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2002-11-01
Posts: 1,764

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

Hi REB!
    I don't think I can make out an overhang on that rock. Are you sure it's not just a trick of the light?

    What concerns me more, if Opportunity is at the bottom of the crater, is what happened to that so-called dune field - you know, the one that some of us thought looked like wind-sculpted, dust-covered, partially-sublimed ice!
    I definitely want a good close-up look at that.
                                          ???

Absolutely, Shaun. That's what we're waiting for, just dying to find out but afraid of what it might NOT turn out to be, in the middle (!) at the bottom of that crater.

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#98 2004-07-23 02:40:07

Rxke
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From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/natu … ]Extension again!

'Mission etended to 7 months!' Whoa! If i can calculate, that 'till march...
Note: they don't get more money, though, so they have to 'scrape by'

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#99 2004-07-24 05:06:37

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://www.lyle.org/mars/imagery/1P1436 … G.html]Huh?

Opportunity spotting something near the sun...

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#100 2004-07-25 06:16:46

slinted
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From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: 2004-05-21
Posts: 8

Re: Spirit & Opportunity *7* - ...continuing...

http://www.lyle.org/mars/imagery/1P1436 … G.html]Huh?

Opportunity spotting something near the sun...

looks like about the same size as Deimos, from the deimos transit Opportunity viewed on sol 39 :
http://www.lyle.org/mars/imagery/1P1316 … tml]Deimos Transit

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