All Bets are now ON

Well folks>>>

Sorry for the no title before, placed it in the URL line!!! DUHHH.

Lets play with this before the first shovelful arrives on board the lab table!

Who are the speculators in here and Who are the players?

1. What's your take with respect to gathering any sample with moisture in it?

2. What's your take with respect to any bio signatures present?

3. At what depth would anything bio be found? If any at all?

4. What's your take on the depth of the shovel for the so-called water-ice to show itself for analysis?

5. Will the shovel excavate anything worth while? Will it hit a rock under the soil face layer it can't move and jam?

6. Will the various experiments on board reveal anything we do know or not know?

Here are a few Q's for starters. Add any others you see fit.


1 - yes
2 - none
3 - none
4 - 0.0
5 - no
6 - yes

Just guessing, that ground is compressed/petrified/frosen, so the shovel will be useless.


thanks...I also have the same answers.


Right from the start there segregated materials, variation of sample pieces at various sizes, slow alteration of the parent materials by probable radiation/weathering(including water and CO2(carbon chemistries?)), evolving materials at some point in the geological record, a possibility that the type!! differentiation is ongoing, secondary mineralization, or time linear mineral transport, surface reshaping, active charged particle interactions ongoing allowing assemblies which are not much possible on Earth with it's steady state liquid dominating presence, crystallographic dominance of a high percentage of samples, therefore, a basically long term ongoing active gestation of chemistry at some point in history.

Did you note the mud-like runoff at the left side of the lander footpad? Hydrazine and additional, to spoil the results of the study. Any rocket exhaust would taint the study, and that is our legacy in this mission.
The ground shows better differentiating mineralogy than the MER sited, and is good for Martian weathering/ evolving mineralogy as a subject. Organics will be an open question, as there should be carbon chemistry included in the surface materials. Below ground is where expect measurable quantities if Carbon scavenging/sequestration isn't underway somehow.
Why such a high percentage of very light toned surface material, if not influenced by water/radiative processes?
Why so much organization in the shaping of the surface materials along with the alteration of the parent materials. That happened in place, over time, some of it ongoing.
Ice is at hand, organics is a question, carbon materials should be somewhere here, liquids have been influential chemically as would be expected in a near polar transient ice field, and it's the wrong time of year to expect a large water ice presence right at the surface.
Ice and radiation causing mineral altered conditions.
A sieve would be necessary to visually sort the materials to view.
Fissure digging may be easier, but some chance of a jammed scoop, perhaps.


We were told, that traces of life could be preserved in permafrost. But to preserve something, it should exist in the first place. The site has not have positive temps apparently for billons years. Which means that water is just one of the rock minerals there, and could not be agent of life for billions of years.

The temperature really prevents any liquids from presence and so from mineral alteration.

There was not,apparently, brought any material from anywhere, so no ground has had formed.

It is easy for me to be proven wrong in just few days, but these seem be valid considerations now.


The scene is one of altered materials, fissures of light toned depositioned altered materials, differentiated rock types mixed after differentiation, now found in a soil mix, the polygons are not the rock types, the mix includes apparently vesiculate gas production, solid slowly altered, solid very light toned, dark blue meteoritic(presumed) pieces, paler blue probable volcanic or other iron sub-angular somewhat eroded pieces, rounded and well eroded medium to lighter toned smooth pieces, crystalline pieces of differentiated dominant minerals, lots of the classic tread-like fine particulates which are charged and ready for activity in the saturated environment of icey cold weather, and a radiation bath which is charging and bring mechanical life to a lander sent to find these items.
I think we are looking at a slow cold economy of weather in a near vacuum condition right at the surface, with a radiative bath that could kill water based life on the surface.
We have the crate bottom without flat depositioned infill, so you are correct, the icey looking surface 'plaques' across the crater bottom of Heimdall are looking like a ice climate with hostile weather to Earth-type water based life. No deep ravines or gullies in the bowl to the rim, but a thousand smaller gullies, and some thin slippage of materials along wide sections, which is not making it to the bottom of the crater bowl after perhaps millions of years. Something is keeping those features stable at the slopes. The materials are very cohesive, with the slippage edges not relaxed, but thick, at least as thick as the central portion of the slides. Residual layers show thin circular margin shapes and are all well demarcate at the edges, no relaxing of the materials along the layers. Consolidation is faster or more steady than erosion. These were patterned ground, not polygon regulars, as I saw from the low resolution sub-images.
Are you thinking these fissures are the 'razorback' variety of rarefaction patterns? Are we in an impact dominated scene as we should expect, controlled by the big crater event, and not looking at actual polygons on sub-Arctic soil caused by water ice, weathered and depositioned, materials? I wonder why we landed at such an obvious scene right next to a large-medium crater.
We had an entire planet swatch at ten to fifteen degrees latitude in which to plan, and ended at a crater rim.
I need to see the HiRISE original large files for these posted sub-images, but I see a mixed bag, altered materials which are differentiated and some not so, and I think all is contaminated by the dominating crater event.
I'll post a topic of the footpad images to discuss the smaller items perhaps, unless you or someone would like to do so.
Many of my replies are being held are disappearing again as in the past years. It's hit and miss for me to post.
We'll be viewing some amount of far gone history for sure. How much is ongoing alteration and how much is recent?


Q4 above in my original thread post has been answered. Depth about 2" or so for ice to be seen and watched as sublimation takes place. We are witnessing that situation right now.

But as I type this I seem to think that the Martian soil contains some substance that hinders sublimation at a faster pace. Look at any of the 3D images of distant from Phoenix and see ice with soil on it. The mounds on these ice patches are higher in the center and almost exposed on the sides of it. There is more soil on top of the mounds than on the sides. So it seems less soil on the sides through sublimation causes the mounding effect. More soil on top of the mound hinders this sublimation! The soil must have some kind of protectorate in it. Any chemical engineering scientists around the Blog?

Q6 is taking too damned long that I ran out of breath waiting for answers.

Skittish Tombs, real skittish!



Another checkset to my 'Q's' as of July 6th 2008

1. test completed, I think!

2. not yet identified

3. not yet identified

4. approximately 2" +/- or 50mm of soil over the ice. Soil blasted away under the Phoenix has also been identified. Photo monitoring only. Possible dirty ice on the landers legs.

5. not yet identified, however the ice seems impenetrable to the shovel for testing! Repeated scrapings has assembled a small pile of ice for oven No. 4 test.

6. water and ice seem to be the NASA answer at the moment. Several other instruments not used yet. Out of 8 ovens, 1 is jammed packed with dirt, the other, No. 4 is about to be used. NASA admits a further problem with short circuiting that could render all further oven tests inoperative.

Waiting on;
microscope use
surface or ground temperatures soil composition
ice composition.

Lots of nice photos, though!


I stand corrected...its oven No. ZERO,

please see


es, dana>>>

We have no more takers for the great Martian bet-off in our secluded group on this Blog.

OHH, come on 'h' and the rest of you, haven't you read enough to 'think' or are you backed up with verbal blockage from somewhere else. This ain't that other site you so admire, speak your peace if you have the scientific guts!

Street Fighting Man...Stones forever

1. What's your take with respect to gathering any sample with moisture in it?

I think the chances they will deliver ice or soil with moisture to the TEGA instrument and that we will see results back from TEGA 50%

2. What's your take with respect to any bio signatures present?

5 % chance. Unlikely.

3. At what depth would anything bio be found? If any at all?

No idea.

4. What's your take on the depth of the shovel for the so-called water-ice to show itself for analysis?

This is not fair, we allready know. about 10cm.

5. Will the shovel excavate anything worth while? Will it hit a rock under the soil face layer it can't move and jam?

Strangely enough it seems that all rocks are at ground level, and there seems to be no rocks in the level between ground level and the ice.

6. Will the various experiments on board reveal anything we do know or not know?

Well, they will bring out a lot of things that I do not know. But I,m not sure if anything of this will be "groundbreaking". I guess it will fill in some pieces of the puzzle.

1. What's your take with respect to gathering any sample with moisture in it?

Already done. Whether any "icy soil" sample will make into TEGA is another question.

However, the more I think about this image, the more I think that liquid water in fact has been observed already in the OM!

My guess is that the drop was created when the landing rockets were drilling holes in the ice beneath it and increasing the local water vapor content to +100%, causing the first "rain storm" on Mars in a very, very long time. One drop just happened to land on a convenient sample substrate, and froze. When it was taken into the OM it warmed enough to become a drop again.

This image was from the first -- and last! -- raw OM image release.

Remember, NASA only notices things they can explain -- and since they have no explanation for this drop -- then it can't officially exist -- so NO OM for you!

2. What's your take with respect to any bio signatures present?

None will be claimed - as this is not a bio mission. However, I see dead people -- I mean bio signatures -- everywhere I look at the Phoenix site.

But that's just me and my "kooky" perceptions.

3. At what depth would anything bio be found? If any at all?

If acknowledged, it will be about 1 cm.

4. What's your take on the depth of the shovel for the so-called water-ice to show itself for analysis?

3.141572757 cm.

5. Will the shovel excavate anything worth while? Will it hit a rock under the soil face layer it can't move and jam?

Define worth while. I already see stuff worth further examination. This "icy soil" in trench Snow White is just plain weird. It does NOT look like the water ice
AT ALL. Why do they call it "icy soil"???

6. Will the various experiments on board reveal anything we do know or not know?


Already the one and only one WCL test has revealed that the "super oxide" explanation for the Viking life results has been ruled out!

The ph measurments call into question the prevailing opinion that Mars is / was a highly acidic environment.

A non-acidic Mars pretty much rules out the explanations of the blueberries creation at Meridiani. ( see HEMATITE CONCRETIONS FROM MODERN ACID SALINE LAKE SEDIMENTS AS GEOCHEMICAL AND ASTROBIOLOGICAL TOMBS. )

So really, already the preliminary results are creating a new, more life friendly Mars.

I think it's back to the drawing boards for all the nay sayers. ( Did I just hear a pony whinny???)

But don't expect any such admission from NASA until it's a "done deal" -- and that will be about 2028 when the Chinese finally give NASA see a sample of the Martians to analyze.


and Hort; re. your reply #11,

6. Will the various experiments on board reveal anything we do know or not know?


I think that the official results have already revealed results that question several currently accepted theories on Mars.

a) The superoxide explanation for the Levin Results is already in the balance from the first wet chemistry results. If that is so, it lets back in the distinct possibility that Viking did indeed find life a few decades ago.

b) I agree with hort that the wet chemistry results also suggests that the accepted explanation for the meridiani berries may be completely off the mark. That would be catastrophic for that theory and I think they will have to start looking around for a current berry surface produced alternative that could well involve life.

c) The surface images with their hints of recently flowing water in an environment where huge amounts of ice is just below the surface and where frost has been frequently seen on dark objects, suggest that the accepted explanation for those numerous areas at Meridiani and Gusev where there appeared to have been recent surface flows of a liquid, will have to be reevaluated and at least the possibility of such being real be seriously considered and not just ignored in the face of the ludicrous explanation of some miraculous flow of fine fines that just ape mini streams.

If their instruments are unable to identify water where we know it exists then the inability of instruments that were not designed to detect or identify current water in the minichannels and muds of gusev and meridiani become not so remarkable after all and should not be used as a rationale to throw out the evidence of most of our eyes that there was recent water in the channels at the surfaces of meridiani and gusev.

re. the timing of the revelations (ex. hort above) He may be right about 2028 or thereabouts but that imo, depends on what the various indtruments show in the remaining days of this mission.

If, in addition to other results that admit the possibility of biology, the AFM shows some undeniable regular, biological-like structures for those small objects which have been passed off as "dust" particles it will become difficult to surpress the slow acknowledgement that the naysayers have lost the battle.

If the AFM shows undeniable dust in its future operations there would be the opposite effect. However, it should be recognized that proper sampling is of paramount importance and if the AFM gets only samples from areas that are unlikely to have bio material the results would be inconclusive from that standpoint.

3. At what depth would anything bio be found? If any at all?

I don't think they are looking for anything bio in the soil and since anything bio is likely to be microbial if anything, I don't think they will find it at any depth. But I think there are clear signs of biological textures in many of the images. The sticking of the soil on the surfaces of the lander and its implements scream something is at work that is stronger than van der waals forces or water within soil particle interstices. I suspect that forces similar to those which bind mud and causes some varieties of it to stick strongly to boots on Earth are at work here. Here, the results of the TEGA and the integrity of its sampling will be of the utmost importance. I hope that the TEGA will get some good samples but I fear that it won't because it might well concentrate exclusively on its water finding objectives in the face of the many problems that have cropped up with the operational aspects of the TEGA.

2. What's your take with respect to any bio signatures present?

I think there have been many images which showed textures and forms and indeed movement (some of hort's animations) that are suggestive of the involvement of life at the surface. However, I don't expect them to be recognized as such. If the mission were longer and they had fulfilled all the mission objectoives perhaps they might look at some of those crevices, overturn some of those rocks and sample what is underneath but that is very unlikely.

In this regard, I am looking forward eagerly to the results of the TECP re. the temperature of the top soil layer and the possibility of liquid water being present from looking at the conductivity measurements between the probes.

Interesting times!!!


1. I'm sure we'd be able to find some moisture if all this damned ice didn't keep getting in the way.

2. Lots of bio signatures present, whether they'll be found is another matter.

3. Probably nothing bio will be found.

4. 2.71828183 cm.

5. The shovel will excavate Martian soil; I think that's pretty worth while. Rocks won't cause a big problem, but rock-hard ice layers will. They won't get a decent sample of ice unless they think of heating the probe needles, using them to make rows of perforations in the ice, and then trying to break off sizeable ice cubes instead of just scraping ice dust; but I doubt that they'll think of that in time.

6. Provided they actually work, every experiment on board must necessarily tell us something that we didn't previously know. For instance, even if we had a pretty good idea beforehand of what the subsurface temperatures would be, and the probe confirms that expectation exactly, what we had before was just a guess, based on some model. We didn't actually know whether or not the guess would be borne out by our measurements.

Reference reply 11, surely all we can say is that the top layer of soil in Phoenix's work space, and by inference the N polar region, is not acidic. But applying this to a generic statement on Mars is like sampling the acid sulphate soils of Australia and determining from that sample that the idea that the caliche affected soils of S Arizona are basic is just a figment of the populations deranged imaginations. Actually I would expect that once volcanic ougassing terminated on Mars the basaltic content of the regolith would have buffered at Meridiani. But that doesn't rule out past acidic water.

Do we know what the polar regolith is made up of? Does it have the same provenance as the dust at Gusev and Meridiani? Since we have ice only a few centimeters under the surface the polar regolith has significantly different thermal insulation properties to thiose used in covered ice sublimation models. Hmm. Wonder what the Ph of the ice is.

I wonder the ph of the ice also.

its possible there is ice under the surface at Merdiani also, as lots of places on mars.

Ice forming under the berries, is probably why they stay at the surface.

brian, my argument is very simple.

The first real datapoint from the surface contradicts the planetary model. Thus the model must be changed - or refined.

Aren't the top few cm of the soil supposed to be the same everywhere because of a planetwide mixing that has been going on for, oh, forever.

Why would the soil results be "surprising" -- if in fact the model allowed for it?

Sure, there still may be places on Mars with acidic conditions - now and then -- but we now know there are places that are now not -- and may have never been.

Anyway, I hope we are presented with some actual surface thermal results soon.

Where are the raw OMs?


Finally, some of the best thoughts on this Blog to date. Truly a pleasure to be here, thank you.

mannn>>>ph of the ice...first I've heard of it...damned good thinking.


That was horton and brian dx.
My idea was that ice forms under the berries, I mean Right under, ice crystals expand then push up the berry. Ice forms under the soil, probably everywhere on mars. Even at phoenix, wich is why the rocks are at the surface there, also.

As i under stand the ph at Meridani, the ph was acidic, for several water events, then one odd lower ph event that formed the berries.

Hort, Since they have finally put the probe to the soil we may soon have a definitive answer on the thermal conductivity of the regolity. Ice only 2 cm under the surface? The regolith must be an exceptional insulator or it would have sublimated ages ago.

I am not sure that we can assume the polar regolith is the same as the rest of Mars as it is covered by snow/ice (water and CO2) every winter. I haven't a clue what that would do. Phoenix is much further North than any other lander.

But the inevitable result of volcanic outgassing is acidic water. In fact in a carbon dioxide atmosphere add any liquid water and you get carbonic doesn't the non acidic soil provide clear evidence that there is no liquid water in the soil?