MSL Media Teleconference Feb. 20, 2013

Author Message
Dana Johnson

PostPosted: February 20, 2013 1:30 PM 

Noon PST, or 3 PM EST (USA). Wednesday


Dana Johnson

Posts: 1195

Reply: 1

PostPosted: February 22, 2013 11:45 AM 

A simple search for Google(US) text,
"calcium sulphate from Mars basalt".,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42768644,d.b2I&biw=1262&bih=622&wrapid=tlif136155021134310

The teleconference suggests that the drill found probable high content percentages of calcium sulphate, at location 'John Klein' on Feb. 8, 2013. Yet to be processed through SAM for a final detailed confirmation, if analysis is finally chosen. The team was confident in the long term utilization of the drill device as a method of identification of solid rock type material over the 'Primary Mission' period of two years.

No answers were offered in questions asked about the hydration state of the possible calcium sulphate. Other than the expected source of basalt, no other materials were suggested from initial instrument tests prior to the drill operation.

The drill success was the main content of the announcement, with graphics for the technical operation of sample collection for possible later analysis of powder from drilling.

Dana Johnson

Posts: 1195

Reply: 2

PostPosted: March 12, 2013 9:32 PM 

How quickly the news changes and the story evolves. Now we have chemicals, water, and an environment habitable for microbes possibly.

The MSL news of March 2013 confirming a habitable environment on Mars at Gale crater area included finding some of the key chemicals of life's components, and added to the intrigue of combination chemistry which could fuel microbes, providing a foundation for the long term study of the many items found and assembled on the traverse.



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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 7:02 AM 

Dana; Did they explain why, with the different hydration states of the minerals found in the same sample, why they selected a time frame of billions of years ago for the deposition of those minerals when a possibly better exlanation for that unsteady state might be current active processes? Surely a long gone activity with a tendency towards oxidation (in the absence of microbial action) should have reduced the content of reduced moities significantly?


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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 2:05 PM 

Winston, the ratio of deuterium to ordinary hydrogen is much less than in the present-day atmosphere, and also in the Rocknest sample, which is exposed to the present atmosphere. That suggests the rock material has been isolated from the atmosphere for a long time, probably billions of years.

We can't calibrate the deuterium "clock" yet because we don't know the rate of atmospheric escape, but the Maven mission should help in that regard.


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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 2:17 PM 


Why billions of years? Why couldn't a comet like the one that is due to make a close pass by next year have struck Mars 100,000 years or so ago and somehow shook up things so much that the "deuterium clock" on Mars became reset?

I really have a problem with the billions of years that NASA et al throw around with gay abandon, especially in a cosmos where unknown forces and effects could still be in effect.



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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 2:29 PM 

I don't know if a comet impact could preferentially cause the loss of a lot more ordinary hydrogen than deuterium, but I imagine a comet strike 100,000 years ago that was large enough to affect the atmospheric composition would leave an enormous fresh crater somewhere that should be fairly obvious.

I think it would have to be a lot larger than the new comet, which is similar in size to the one thought to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. AFAIK, that did not change the composition of Earth's atmosphere.


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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 3:56 PM 

Barsoomer; Thanks for your response and forgive me. Ignore my allusion to 100,000 years, that figure was taken out of a hat, it could have been 1 billion or 500,000 or any number you choose before the time when early mankind started passing on stories of celestial conflicts that he observed in the heavens.

Does anyone know for sure what a comet strike or other major catastrophe can do or does to atmospheric composition in our neighboring planets? Do we have measurements before and after the Shoemaker comet strike on Jupiter that suggests that the atmospheric content of the gases there did not change significantly following the comet's breakup? And could such measurements be expected to hold true for a planet such as Mars or even Earth? Does anyone know for certain when the major craters on Mars were made? How would one know the composition of the atmosphere before and after a massive comet strike before our historical time? How do we know that the various theories on which geological time measurement are built are correct and fairly accurate? Might there be some credence in Thornhill's Electric Universe hypotheses? etc. etc.



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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 4:40 PM 

Winston, I recently read an article in a German professional journal (astronomy) about the effects if the comet really impacts Mars next year. To make that long story short: they estimated the impact would mean the end of all current missions on and around Mars (due to destructive effects of the comets coma etc. - even in case of a near miss - and the impact itself if happens) as well as some effects which I would call low level terraforming: increasing atmospheric pressure and a water vapor surge (comets are essential a mixture of ice and dirt) resulting in a greenhouse effect. They also estimated that liquid water would be stable at the surface for quite some time after the impact and there would be small lakes.

All in all it looks quite bleak for our missions at Mars but interesting for the new Martian environment after a cometary hit. Smile


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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 5:00 PM 

MPJ; Thanks! The portents don't sound good whether it actually impacts or does a close flyby. Since there is a possibility that it could impact seriously on the orbiters as well as on Curi and Oppy we might not even be able to have instruments that could observe the after effects even from orbit.

I am also very interested in the possibilities from an Electric Universe viewpoint to see if there might be some corroboration or discrediting of their theories. Will see if they have anything on their webpage.

grateful if you will continue to post anthing you find on the comet and its likely effects.


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