Re: Mars photo

Posted by Uncle Al on Jan 07, 2004 at 11:00

Re: Mars photo (Joules Beech)

The surface of Mars is near vacuum (7-10 torr in the lowlands). Mixed valence iron minerals are magnetic. Stuff acts differently under extreme circumstances. Does flour act like sand? The surface of Mars is what it is.

One remembers the incredible incessant hype attendant to the last rover, now summed up as being essentially zero information content. Put a gizmo in the terrestrial Atacama desert and subtract the datasets. If there is anything remaining, that is what the Mars mission accomplished.

Uncle Al would like to see a discovered lump of limestone and a nice microscope picture of fossil inclusions. Uncle Al would put his money, however, on bottom line "zero information content" when it is all over. Pictures of remote dirt and stones.

The whole surface of Mars short of its frigid poles has been lyophilized for a billion years, cooked under vicious solar deep UV, and cooked by particulate radiation. If it has any biologically interesting water, then that water must be buried deep - sealed against evaporation, pressurized by depth, and warmed above freezing by internal planetary heat from original accretion and continuing radioactive decay. You'd want a seismic survey, then a kilometer or three of deep drilling, followed by sample retrieval and examination both for frank biota and their metabolic products. Bugs are a pain in the patootie in oil drilling.

The seismic survey is not too bad: Pepper the terrain of interest with remote seismometers, then crash something big traveling at more than orbital velocity. That gives you a big sharp isolated pulse. The drilling is left as an exercise for the alert reader. You might start at the second seismic pulse crater.

Uncle Al
(Do something naughty to physics)

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