Mars Landing

Salt Water on Mars


In the category of neat science news: Water droplets have collected on NASA's Phoenix Lander located in the Martian arctic region. See photos below:

mars water

As the Mars Daily reports:

Salty, liquid water has been detected on a leg of the Mars Phoenix Lander and therefore could be present at other locations on the planet, according to analysis by a group of mission scientists led by a University of Michigan professor. This is the first time liquid water has been detected and photographed outside the Earth.

"A large number of independent physical and thermodynamical evidence shows that saline water may actually be common on Mars," said Nilton Renno, a professor in the U-M Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and a co-investigator on the Phoenix mission.

"Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life. This discovery has important implications to many areas of planetary exploration, including the habitability of Mars."

We could talk about space policy here, but why not just enjoy the pictures and let our imaginations roam a bit? 

Hat tip to stuartl. 

NEXT: Obama Stimulates the Economy...If You're in the Gun Business

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If there is rain on Mars it follows that there must be martian umbrellas also. Now if we could only find *them*.

  2. I have several hypotheses:

    (1) We landed in someone's yard and got hit by their sprinkler.

    (2) Our probe has been attacked by a giant Martian douching system.

    (3) That water is the salty tears of Martian natives crying for their Earthly cousins.

    (4) The probe is on Earth.

  3. I guess they didn't think to pack a refractometer on this Mars rover. Then we'd know what the specific gravity of the water sample is. My guess would be a bit higher than 1.0264, but I wonder how much evaporation would occur there?

  4. Finally, a solution to the overpopulation problem on earth.

  5. There are too many water droplets on earth?

  6. (4) The probe is on Earth.

    Run, OJ! RUN!

  7. Don't be too certain this is good news.
    there's a theory of martian chemistry that has the surface soil and consisting largely of acids and oxidizing chemicals.
    The only way liquid water could exist there is as highly concentrated acid.

    this is not exactly what you want to hear when you think of sending humans to live there.

  8. This considerably brightened my day. Thanks, HnR.

  9. this is not exactly what you want to hear when you think of sending humans to live there.

    Depends on which humans, doesn't it?

  10. Congress will not be truly safe until the Capitol is relocated to Mars.


    We're still getting too much conflicting data out of Mars to know for sure. It would be nice to send, you know, people there to check it out, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

  11. (4) The probe is on Earth.

    Next to the Apollo lunar lander with the flag waving in the wind.

  12. Salty, liquid water has been detected on a leg of the Mars Phoenix Lander

    Hopefully everyone here will stay classy and not run with this double entendre ...

  13. Water droplets my ass! Them's Martians! They're going to reverse engineer it, then come to Earth and grab up all our Women Folk! $%#@&^ NASA!

  14. I really find it striking that, even at the request of one of the brightest Progressives in the congress, the Bush Administration toadies at NASA refused to drive the rovers to the location of the astronaut landings from the 1960's and 1970's.

  15. I think the Phoenix Lander is just sweating.

  16. All of the money used on this grandstanding could have been used to help free the poor from wage slavery.

  17. Now isn't that cooler that whatever the hell you guys were gonna spend that tax money on? Booze and lunchmeat are utilitarian! Who gives a crap about discovering our place in the universe! Rabble rabble...

  18. "Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life."

    I always wonder, "How, exactly, are they so sure about this?" How do they know there aren't giant jellyfish with hard outer skeletons that drink Ammonia somewhere?

  19. Tofu,

    No way! Who was that paragon of brilliance?

  20. Interesting observation, Tofu. I certainly won't argue that requesting that a rover drive from Mars to the Moon would disqualify anyone from the title of "brightest Progressive in Congress."

  21. "Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life."

    There are good reasons why life is unlikely in liquid methane and ammonia, but normally scientists say "life as we know it."

  22. Hopefully everyone here will stay classy and not run with this double entendre ...

    Come on, who could possibly get anything dirty out of drops of salty liquid on something's leg?

  23. My first evil thought, upon seeing the pictures, was that a martian dog (or whatever they may have as a dog-like pet) came by and did its business on the legs of the rover, as earthbound dogs will do to lamp-posts, fire hydrants, and car tires.

    Now I feel a strange compulsion to put Who's Next in the CD player...

  24. stuartl,

    Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. She should know what she is talking about. She represented Houston, and was a member of the House Science Committee's space subcommittee.

    I may be recalling this wrong. She might have just asked if the lander photographed Neil Armstrong's flag.

  25. She was very progressive in trying to get the weather service to use African-American names when naming hurricanes too.

  26. Holy cow, I missed that one. Why do people elect such obvious idiots to Congress?

  27. PL,

    Why do people elect such obvious idiots to Congress?

    I see through your thinly disguised sexism and racism.

  28. TofuSushiarch,

    Are you suggesting that all of the idiots in Congress are minorities or women? I think that's inaccurate. Some of the worst are those evil white men dudes.

  29. I'm offended, shocked and dismayed by your insensitivity to this issue. My keyboard is covered in tears and I am barely able to type this through squinted, red eyes.

    You horrible monster.

  30. She was very progressive in trying to get the weather service to use African-American names when naming hurricanes too.

    It's pronounced, "SHI-Teeed!!!"

  31. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas who still represents the district that includes the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She was on House Science Committee, and on the Subcommittee that oversees space policy and NASA. While visiting JPL, she asked the NASA representative how far the Mars Pathfinder had landed from the flag planted by Neil Armstrong and whether it had taken a picture of the flag planted by Neil Armstrong.

    She's a big proponent of gun bans.

  32. She's a big proponent of gun bans.

    See how Progressive she was? You should not fear her, but embrace her.

  33. She is definitely an "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking" congresswoman. An intellectual giant, in the same league as Joe Biden.

  34. stuartl,

    VP Biden is one of the brightest minds in all of Democratic party history.

  35. She's on what committees?

  36. PL,

    She WAS on a committee. See 2:49pm comment.

    I think she is going to the State Department soon, or already has.

  37. Not to be the next NASA Administrator? Why the hell not? Is Obama also a sexist and a racist?

  38. PL,

    Of course not. He is Progressive and fair.

  39. VP Biden is one of the brightest minds in all of Democratic party history.

    Again, hard to argue with that.

  40. Tofu,

    How can anyone argue? Their combined IQ's must be huge. I bet they helped Al Gore write the core code for the Internet.

  41. R C Dean,

    Of course you can't. Not honestly anyway.

  42. stuartl,

    Oh, come on. Gore was funding and inspiration for the internet. Sort of like he and Tipper being the inspiration for Lovestory, or some story.

    He might have worked on the theory side, like his heroic work with Global Climate Change.

  43. Hey now, watch the attacks on Biden's intelligence. He types in IP addresses directly, not URLs. The man's friggin' amazing. Why, I believe he thinks in hexadecimal!

  44. Tofu,

    You are right! Sheila Jackson Lee is going to work at state for Hillary.

    This will be something worth watching. I expect it will be quite the 3 way race between Hillary, Joe, and Sheila to see whose clarity of expression can make the most headlines. Great days are ahead for US diplomacy.

  45. Earth children have too much salt in their diets. Hence, we must declare war on Mars...

  46. PL,

    The video did not play for me. Is there true evidence of this or is that a spoof site?

  47. Um... if this is, like, condensation, how did it get salt in it? I'm not a chemist, and I don't play one on TV, but when water evaporates (to later become condensation), doesn't it leave the salt behind?

    Unless, this is, like, at the beach, and what we're seeing is sea spray.

    Any way to look around and see if it's a topless Martian beach?

  48. Well, that video is of the CBS Early Show gaffe itself, but here's some textual support. I didn't bother posting the Fox News article on the mistake, of course.

  49. First, some water droplets. Next, a three breasted woman.

  50. Well, if that's the case, we'll be on Mars within three years.

    Reminds me of the Lunar Sex Prize, which, given the closer proximity of the Moon, only involves two breasts.

  51. Seems more like something seen on Vulcan, not Mars

    According to Apollodorus, Hephaestus attempted to rape Athena but was unsuccesful. His semen fell on the ground, and Erichthonius was born from the earth. Athena then raised the baby as a foster mother. Alternatively, the semen landed on Athena's leg, and she wiped it off with a piece of wool which she tossed on the ground. Erichthonius arose from the ground and the wool. Another version says that Hephaestus wanted Athena to marry him but she disappeared on his bridal bed; he ejaculated onto the ground instead. Athena gave three sisters, Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaulus the baby in a small box and warned them to never open it. Aglaulus and Herse opened the box which contained the infant and future-king, Erichthonius. The sight caused Herse and Aglaulus to go insane and they threw themselves off the Acropolis.

  52. Maybe the lander just peed itself.

  53. Terraforming Mars is a pipe dream. The planet has no magnetic field which means it has no protection from solar radiation. It also has no large moon which means the axis can tilt up to 90 degrees.

  54. We'll add the magnetic field later, dude. With giant subterranean (sorry, subarean?) fusion reactors. Simple!

  55. Please God, don't let them figure out this really isn't water at all.


  56. OK, but there are microorganisms that could survive in those conditions, right? Or does the preponderance of solar radiation make conditions too harsh for DNA and RNA to (hypothetically) stay intact?

  57. I'd be surprised if there were microorganisms anywhere near the surface of Mars.

    Geothermally heated pockets are a real possibility however.

  58. Side note:
    I'm going to make a prediction, based on "inside information" of a sort.
    We're going to discover Mars once had hot springs. Results from MRO sometime in the next year or two.

  59. We're going to discover Mars once had hot springs.

    Do you think nematodes are a possibility?

  60. Need to read the fine print. This evidence is not probative, and most scientists don't believe this is a case of water holding liquid form. (And isn't it winter in the Red Planet's northern hemisphere right now anyway?) I'm also suspicious of the number of apparent Phoenix breakthroughs that have come from camera evidence rather than from the TEGA and other chemistry equipment that was the Phoenix's main purpose. Those have tended to produce much more ambiguous results.

  61. Salty water on the lander? First thing I thought of was establishing an undercoating franchise on Mars. Rust is sure to follow.

  62. Tim, the link you cite only names one scientist expressing doubt, where did you find something about "most scientists?"

    The blobs certainly appear to have surface tension, and two blobs appeared to merge into a round object, so liquid seems more likely to me. The blobs don't look like frost. Not that my opinion is worth much, and I am certainly biased towards finding water.

    Hopefully these guys will duke it out, maybe even run some experiments to see if very salty water can be liquid at those temps.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.