U Texas Austin: The researchers think their conclusion — volcanic rock buried under ice — is a more plausible explanation for the 2018 discovery, which was already in question after scientists calculated the unlikely conditions needed to keep water in a liquid state at Mars’ cold, arid south pole.
Coppedge: The paper in Geophysical Research Letters by I.B. Smith et al., “A Solid Interpretation of Bright Radar Reflectors Under the Mars South Polar Ice” (GRL, 15 July 2021, DOI: 10.1029/2021GL093618) says that clay is a sufficient material to account for the observations. The water interpretation is problematic, because “the amount of dissolved salt and heat required to maintain liquid water at this location is difficult to reconcile with what we know about Mars.”
If planets’ water resources came from accretions of tiny carbon and ice particles, rather than icy asteroid hits, many would have lots of water, and maybe life.
Maybe time to dust off the ID idea that Earth is fine-tuned for space discovery?
But the real goal is to rule out design in nature, which the controversialists can’t do, hence the “religious” nature of the controversy. A friend writes to remind us that this is basically the stuff of Michael Denton’s book, Wonder of Water.
Most exoplanets, we are told, fall into this size range and it is not yet known if it has a rocky surface, considered important for life. Here’s a roundup of some things we know.
Researchers: An all-ocean planet would be sterile due to lack of nutrients leached from land.
Researchers: Both highly ordered and disordered tetrahedral arrangements give water its “peculiar properties.” The paper’s title spells this out: “Water-like anomalies as a function of tetrahedrality.”
So, it turns out, even if there IS lots of water in a solar system, that doesn’t add up to habitability either. Talk about Rare Earth and Privileged Planet.
In other words, Earth doesn’t just “have water”; it is fine-tuned for life. We need to find exoplanets that are likewise fine-tuned.
At one time, it wathought that the mechanisms by which water transports the H+ and OH− ions were mirror images of each other, though in recent years, asymmetry was glimpsed: A team of scientists has uncovered new molecular properties of water—a discovery of a phenomenon that had previously gone unnoticed. Liquid water is known to Read More…