- Second Amendment protesters defend gun rights with truly terrible signs 4 Years Ago
- David Lynch surprises fans by dropping Netflix short out of the blue 4 Years Ago
- Poop-focused parody of Kent State Gun Girl sparks conservative ire Today 11:58 AM
- 6-year-old raises $250K for Australian bushfires by making clay koalas Today 11:31 AM
- What you need to know about Clearview AI and its facial recognition app Today 10:36 AM
- Apple TV+ gets its first SAG Award while Netflix and Amazon nab 2 each Today 10:07 AM
- Facebook apologizes for translating Chinese president’s name to ‘Mr. Sh*thole’ Today 9:45 AM
- New York Times endorses Klobarren for president Today 8:45 AM
- 6 gift cards that make for the most thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift ideas Today 8:16 AM
- Studio Ghibli films are coming to Netflix—but not for Americans Today 8:13 AM
- Brad Pitt clutching Jennifer Aniston’s hand sparks all the rumors Today 7:47 AM
- The man who sold shares of himself on the internet Today 7:00 AM
- The rise of the conservative ‘mancast’ in a world of changing masculinity Today 6:00 AM
- Amazon’s ‘Troop Zero’ gives the underdog movie a stylized re-do Today 4:20 AM
- No, the first words of Trump’s tweets don’t match up to lyrics of ‘Break My Stride’ Sunday 10:28 PM
The 5 best times NASA discovered water on Mars
This is why you’re having déjà vu.
If you had Internet access on Monday, you probably heard something about water on Mars. It’s a legitimately exciting scientific development! The first solid proof of running water on another planet! There’s no reason to be cynical about that, so keep that in mind as you read the rest of this article.
NASA touted this discovery with their PR hype machine. They started by teasing a major announcement in regards to Martian research (aliens?), and then, a couple days later, revealed images of running water (man, it’s never aliens, is it.) Which, again, is totally cool. The problem is, we’ve heard NASA say they’ve discovered water on Mars a whole bunch of times already. Here’s a rundown of previous Martian water reveals.
1) Mariner 9
1971: That’s the year we first had an inkling there might be water on Mars, when a space probe with about the technological complexity of a calculator noticed the Valles Marineris, a system of canyons that seemed to have formed via some sort of flowing liquid. No physical water, sure, but we were on the right track just one year after The Beatles broke up.
2) The Viking Program
Ah yes, Viking 1 and Viking 2, the probes and landers that examined the Red Planet for a number of years in the late ’70s and early ’80s. They noticed gigantic river valleys, evidence of rain, and a bunch of other proof that at some point or another, Mars played host to some actual running water.
3) Mars Odyssey
This is sort of the big one that makes an announcement like yesterday feel a little anti-climatic. In 2003, NASA announced that their orbiting Odyssey project had discovered, and I quote, “enough ice underneath the surface to fill Lake Michigan twice.” That’s… so much water! And we found it over 10 years ago.
4) Mars Phoenix
In 2008, the Phoenix lander drilled down a couple inches into the Martian soil and totally “discovered” the previously discovered ice, thus confirming the Odyssey’s theory. There was a bunch of ice under Mars! And Barack Obama was about to be elected president! 2008 sure was great!
5) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Since 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been sending back evidence of sustained precipitation on the planet, as well as photos of ice-encrusted craters. It also discovered a stranger version of Martian rain where water vapor enters the atmosphere, attaches itself to dust particles, and brings them back down to the ground in certain seasons.
Here’s its latest report of weather on the Martian surface:
Diffuse water-ice cloud activity continued in the equatorial latitudes this past week as the aphelion cloud-belt developed. Each sol, dust activity and optically thick water-ice clouds were observed along the receding north polar ice cap edge.
And that’s sort of my issue with yesterday! I get that NASA is looking for more funding, and this sort of red-carpet rollout makes them feel important, and I totally respect that. I guess I just wished they saved it for the stuff where my initial reaction isn’t “didn’t we already know that?”
But anyway, congratulations on the discovery, NASA—you guys are so unimaginably more brilliant than me it’s not even worth talking about.
Photo via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Entertainment and sports reporter Luke Winkie has written everywhere from A.V Club to Vice, including Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Kotaku, Playboy, Mel, and Polygon.