Mars 01

I’ve been gathering info about Mars for some time and think that it’s time that I began to collect it on one place. I’ve entitled this Mars 01 as there will probably be more. If I manage to learn how to make webpages on this rather than just blog posts they may get more descriptive titles.

These are general:

• The feasibility study that MIT did on the private enterprise “Mars One” proposal.

• and a Planetary Society article here:

•and this is a fantastic map (downloadable) of Mars.
However, it’s too big, at 34mb, for my tablet to handle easily.
However, although this is older, it will open on the tablet with no problems

• These are specifically about WATER .

~ first, this is a delightful video on YouTube which helped me to “get” why ice floats and also helped me with hydrogen bonding – the property that makes water so special and so helpful for the development and maintenance of life.

“Water is a special substance for several reasons, and you may have noticed an important one right in your cold drink: ice. Solid ice floats in liquid water, which isn’t true for most substances. But why? George Zaidan and Charles Morton explain the science behind how how hydrogen bonds keep the ice in your glass (and the polar ice caps) afloat.”


~Mars: The Planet that Lost an Ocean’s Worth of Water
5 March 2015


~ NASA | Measuring Mars’ Ancient Ocean
NASA Goddard
“For decades, planetary scientists have suspected that ancient Mars was a much warmer, wetter environment than it is today, but estimates of just how much water Mars has lost since its formation vary widely. Now, new isotopic measurements by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center reveal that an ocean once covered approximately twenty percent of the Martian surface. This new picture of early Mars is considerably wetter than many previous estimates, raising the odds for the ancient habitability of the Red Planet.”

~ discussed in this astrobite

• From the current (October 2016) joint 48th meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) and 11th European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Pasadena, California.

The Ancient Habitability of Gale Crater, Mars, after Four Years of Exploration by Curiosity. “Curiosity’s observations suggest that ancient Mars was capable of supporting life: it appears to have had liquid water with a neutral pH and low salinity, key elements and nutrients necessary for life, and energy for metabolism.”
(Scroll down to get to the Gale Crater notes)

• The polar caps of Mars are formed of permanent caps of water ice that never melt and seasonal layers of frozen carbon dioxide.
“Mars has ice caps at both its north and south poles. The perennial or permanent portion of the north polar cap consists almost entirely of water ice. In the northern hemisphere winter, this gains a seasonal coating of frozen carbon dioxide about one meter (three feet) thick.
The south polar cap also acquires a thin frozen carbon dioxide coating in the southern hemisphere winter. Beneath this is the perennial south polar cap, which is in two layers. The top layer consists of frozen carbon dioxide and about 8 meters (27 feet) thick. The bottom layer is very much deeper and is made of water ice. Data collected by the Marsis radar instrument aboard Mars Express has indicated that enough water is locked up at Mars’ south pole to cover the planet in a liquid layer 11 meters (36feet) deep.

• Regarding minerals with hydrated salts (a possible source of water now?)

And this more recent article
Which is about the paper “Spectral evidence for hydrated salts in recurring slope lineae on Mars” by Lujendra Ojha et al published here and notes that,
“We see hydrated salts occur naturally here on Earth. One well-known example derives its name from an English spring where compounds from local rock and soil dissolve in ground water, float around for a bit, then bind together to create salt molecules that hydrate with the water’s molecules. Boil down that water and what remains is known as Epsom salt.

• Mid latitude glaciers

There is also frozen water in the form of glaciers at mid latitudes:
Volume of Martian mid-latitude glaciers from radar observations and -flow modelling
DOI: 10.1002/2015GL063219 Geophysical Research Letters
N. B. Karlsson, L. S. Schmidt and C. S. Hvidberg;jsessionid=5C94ABFC6A6525056D8EE3E4F49D857B.f02t02
Numerous glacier-like forms have been identified in the mid-latitudes of Mars, and within recent years the acquisition of radar sounding data has revealed that the features are chiefly composed of water ice. […]We estimate the present ice volume of lobate debris aprons (identified by Levy et al. [2014]) on Mars to correspond to 1.55 × 10^5 km^3 with an uncertainty of 25%. This corresponds to a global ice cover of 1.1 m. thus, the water ice found at mid-latitudes is an important water reservoir, and an important part of the global surface ice budget.


• Various links regarding extracting water and/or energy sources. is an intriguing site.
Especially regarding water
And regarding energy from frozen CO2, dry ice, which “boils” at about 32°C. (That’s from memory so isn’t quotable – if anyone other than me reads this!)

•There’s more on energy from CO2 here Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide. Northumbria University, Newcastle. In-situ resource utilisation through water extraction from hydrated minerals relevance to Mars missions and an Australian analogue.
This is a PDF of a presentation from the Mars Society of Australia.

• using microwaves to extract water.
water extraction in simulated lunar and Martian environments using microwave beams. about this technique.


• More on use of CO2 (also some info about getting oxygen from oxide rich rocks, using electrolysis. The 2002 article speaks of using a small nuclear reactor, but it needs to be borne in mind that other sources of energy – perhaps one which uses C02? – could power the method.)

Summarised in:
14th Jul 2002 “Sadoway has designed an electrochemical cell the size of a fridge, which powered by a small nuclear reactor. Oxide-rich rocks, which make up the surface of Mars are loaded into the cell which passes a 450 amp current through the rocks, melting them, and releasing oxygen by a process known as electrolysis. People need about 3 kilograms of oxygen per day, which the cell should be able to extract from only 8 kilograms of Mars rock.

So what about the water ? Debelak, the other scientist, has suggested using the same technique employed home here on earth to make decaffeinated coffee ! By compressing carbon dioxide gas, which makes up most of the atmosphere on Mars, it can be used to dissolve some of the water locked up in minerals and rocks on the planet surface. When the compressed gas has passed over the rock samples it is allowed to expand which releases clean water which can be collected and used.”

I think that’s enough to be going on with for now.