“This is the place” – TTG

This might be the words of Elon Musk channeling Brigham Young as he contemplates the latest news about abundant water in Valles Marineris, an equatorial valley system on Mars that extends for some 4,000 kilometers.

“(CNN) Mars has its own version of the Grand Canyon, and scientists have learned this dramatic feature is home to “significant amounts of water” after a discovery made by an orbiter circling the red planet, according to the European Space Agency. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched in 2016 as a joint mission between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos, detected the water in Valles Marineris on Mars. This canyon system is 10 times longer, five times deeper and 20 times wider than the Grand Canyon.

The water is located beneath the surface of the canyon system and was detected by the orbiter’s FREND instrument, or Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector. This instrument is able to map hydrogen in the top meter (3.28 feet) of Martian soil. Most water on Mars is located in the planet’s polar regions and remains frozen as water ice. Valles Marineris is just south of the planet’s equator, where temperatures typically aren’t cold enough for water ice to remain.

The observations were collected by the orbiter between May 2018 to February 2021. Previously, other orbiters have searched for water just beneath the Martian surface and detected small amounts under Martian dust. A study detailing the findings published Wednesday in the journal Icarus.


Comment: This should be welcome news to Musk and his plan to establish a city of one million on Mars. The location seems ideal. Scientists say “assuming the hydrogen we see is bound into water molecules, as much as 40% of the near-surface material in this region appears to be water.” That’s a lot of water, even if it is in the form of subsurface permafrost. Musk’s city could be built in caverns dug into the valley walls to be protected from radiation. I bet Musk’s Boring Company is planning a Martian version of their tunnel boring machine. Being near the equator will mean more effective solar power than at the poles. Yes, this could be the place.


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12 Responses to “This is the place” – TTG

  1. Pat Lang says:

    The prospect of this was in the Mars trilogy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_trilogy

  2. Babeltuap says:

    I thought we would be further along with advanced AI to the point it could determine what is the most efficient way to travel to mars and also how to built a robust colony. Apparently not yet.

    First things first though. Let AI determine what is the most efficient form of government. I know there was an attempt years ago but I can’t seem to find that study anywhere. All I remember is AI determined it was a robust middle class. No wonder why we are so screwed up…meh.

    • TTG says:


      You’re putting far too much faith in AI. It’s just a tool, a damned amazing tool, but still just a tool. AI is not a savior of mankind.

  3. zmajcek says:

    The Expanse series (novels, and TV show) takes place in relative near future when mankind has mastered fusion for energy and propulsion. Earth is depicted as complacent and stagnant while Mars because of its environment is advanced and efficient. Terraforming is their biggest project and a dream that all the population shares.

    Don’t want to insert spoilers so if you want to know what remains of that dream after a prospect of travelling to uninhabited, earth like planets becomes available, read the excellent novels or watch the SyFy show.

    Elon Musk is a unique individual and we are lucky to have him. However, we need many more like him and we need to dream much bigger. Rocket propulsion and nuclear fission are 70+ years old.

  4. A. Pols says:

    It’s nice to have dreams, even if they’re pipe dreams. How would anyone propose to get a tunnel boring machine to Mars?

  5. TTG says:

    A. Pols,

    The Starship is supposed to lift 100 tons. Surely a boring machine can be designed to fit the cargo capacity of a Starship. In fact, their newest boring machine, Prufrock, bores a 12 foot diameter tunnel and is transported on a trailer over roads. Getting boring machines to Mars will be the easy part.

  6. jim ticehurst says:

    looks like that Area was gouged right out of that area of Mars…Some Sort of Side Swipe Impact Millions of Yeara Ago..?? Is that What all that Rock..Dust..and Asteroid Material Came from That Makes up The Asteroid Belt circling Between Mars and Jupiter.??
    That Seems to be Mostly Impact Material…..That Astroid Belt has Four Larger Asteroids….Pallas…Vesta..Hygena..and CERES….which is the Largest of the Four..And Considered a Dwarf Planet..Its Composed Of Clay…Water..And Ice..and Has the Most Water of any Body In the Inner Solar System..Its Rich in Carbon…Hydrogen..Oxygen..And Nitrogen…Did That Come from Its Impact with Mars..Did That Impact Destroy Mars..Atmosphere..and Lakes..?

    • TTG says:

      Geologists say it was caused by tectonic activity around 3.5 billion years ago accompanied by large volcanic activity nearby. The loss of the Martian atmosphere and formerly abundant surface water is primarily due to the lack of a protective magnetic field. That allowed solar winds to rip off the atmosphere and surface water. That process is ongoing.

      • jim ticehurst says:

        ok…That May have been caused On Mars by and Impact..Too It would probably have destroyed The Magnetic Field And Caused those Surface Winds…Ceres has now Been Reclassified as a “Water Planet’…and China is Planning a Mission there..

        • TTG says:

          There may have been a massive impact on Mars, but it had nothing to do with the loss of the magnetic field. That occurred at the center of Mars when a counter rotating solid core could not be sustained. Earth sustains a counter rotating solid core due to pressure from the mass of the Earth. That resulting magnetic field is what protects our atmosphere and shields us from radiation. Mars lacked that mass. Also, those were not surface winds. They are the solar winds that strip away the Martian atmosphere without that protective magnetic field.

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