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Waspie_Dwarf

Martian salts must touch ice

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Martian salts must touch ice to make liquid water, study shows

ANN ARBOR – In chambers that mimic Mars' conditions, University of Michigan researchers have shown how small amounts of liquid water could form on the planet despite its below-freezing temperatures.

Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life as we know it. Mars is one of the very few places in the solar system where scientists have seen promising signs of it – in gullies down crater rims, in instrument readings, and in Phoenix spacecraft self portraits that appeared to show wet beads on the lander's leg several years ago.

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Posted (edited)

It's not just temperature that determines whether water can exist in liquid form on Mars - much more important is atmospheric pressure and whether it is sufficiently high enough to prevent sublimation. On Mars the pressure is nowhere near sufficient to allow liquid water to exist at the surface. This article fails to tell us what the pressure in the vessel was, the proportion of this "special" salt to water, or the binding process between the water molecules to the salt. Will wait for a few more details to emerge before getting my "water wings" on.... :whistle:

Edited by keithisco

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"Liquid water"..................really?

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Good to know any aliens living there can get a delicious drink of liquid water, at least some of the time.. ;)

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I seem to remember as a child reading that Mars could warm up to around 65 degress F. or so at the equator during the Martian summer? But it does not have to get nearly that warm for liquid water, especially with enough dissolved minerals within.

We do have algae on earth that lives inside of translucent rocks in Antarctica, I remember seeing it on one of David Attenborough's television specials. During the very brief time above freezing, a bit of growth takes place then the algae becomes dormant again. Presumably the rocks are porous enough to allow some moisture in. So I suppose it might be possible for life to eek out an existence on Mars in the same way.

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But we know already that some area of martian soil is soaked in water....

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I seem to remember as a child reading that Mars could warm up to around 65 degress F. or so at the equator during the Martian summer? But it does not have to get nearly that warm for liquid water, especially with enough dissolved minerals within.

We do have algae on earth that lives inside of translucent rocks in Antarctica, I remember seeing it on one of David Attenborough's television specials. During the very brief time above freezing, a bit of growth takes place then the algae becomes dormant again. Presumably the rocks are porous enough to allow some moisture in. So I suppose it might be possible for life to eek out an existence on Mars in the same way.

Yes thats interesting. Did you catch this article earlier this year? Life never stops being full of suprises...

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and Reading University have demonstrated that, after over 1,500 years frozen in Antarctic ice, moss can come back to life and continue to grow...

http://astrobiology.com/2014/03/moss-brought-back-to-life-after-1500-years-frozen-in-ice.html

It wouldnt be that much of a jump to suppose that alien life might be suitably adapted to survive extremes of temperature.

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I imagine a lifeform that can survive freezing martian winters might not be dissimilar to the mountain weta, an insect with the unique ability to be frozen in ice and emerge unharmed when thawed out. Apparently they have a special type of anti freeze coarsing through their veins.

http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-3475013-stock-footage-frozen-giant-weta.html

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Posted (edited)

Temperature extremes don't preclude life at all - witnessed by the various extremophiles discovered here on Planet earth. I think the real issues would be organisms that can survive with very little liquid, and extremely low atmospheric pressures. It's possible (I think) for microbial life to ingest water ice and to have hardened cell membranes that can cope with extremely low pressures. For higher life - forms (multi cellular) I cannot imagine what the cell structure would be like as these conditions appear never to have occurred on Earth, so evolution has not catered for such extremes. IMO

Edited by keithisco

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Temperature extremes don't preclude life at all - witnessed by the various extremophiles discovered here on Planet earth. I think the real issues would be organisms that can survive with very little liquid, and extremely low atmospheric pressures. It's possible (I think) for microbial life to ingest water ice and to have hardened cell membranes that can cope with extremely low pressures. For higher life - forms (multi cellular) I cannot imagine what the cell structure would be like as these conditions appear never to have occurred on Earth, so evolution has not catered for such extremes. IMO

They may not preclude life, however life that lives at the low end of temperature extremes often has a very long life, but a very short season of activity. Lichens in such an environment may be hundreds or thousands of years old, but only able to grow a few days a year. There are mosses and mites in the polar regions that live far longer than their tropical counterparts, but at a much slower pace.

As you mentioned, there are other reasons life may be difficult on Mars. There is also no magnetic field on Mars strong enough to keep out solar and cosmic radiation, although life underground might be more protected.

It's a very dry place with lots of dust and sand: I say we look for Shai Hulud.

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