Meridiani Planum: 'Drenched'

writes:


And yet there have been over 6.5 BILLION hits on the Mars Rover Web site since the landings. Probably over 7 billion by now. That suggests that there is more interest than might otherwise have been expected. It is not credible that a small amount of people made all those hits.
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Chosp wrote:

Yep. And I was on the road when the press conference occurred so I had to watch it on streaming video later in the evening at the C-SPAN archive. Even nearly 12 hours after the press conference I was not able to keep the stream going for more than two or three minutes at a time because the servers were overloaded... I also note that today that two of the top three videos at C-SPAN are MER press conferences. And you watch, by later today or tomorrow the Tuesday press conference will be number one.
Somebody out there cares. It's the media with their heads stuck up their butts that don't get it. To these people science is a sort of distraction from "real" life; a fluff piece to be tacked on at the end of the "real" news. I was talking to (of all people) my Mother the other day. She has never shown a great deal of interest in science. Yet she surprised me when she railed against NASA for not doing more to tell her what was going on so she could follow MER more closely. Heck, even my five year old has kids and teachers at his preschool excited about MER. My experience is that every-day people are ready to get excited, but the media hasn't given them the chance.
Remember how CNN covered Pathfinder? They showed most the press conferences live without interruption. They let their reporter on site have the time he needed to show people what it was to be excited about. They had hours of coverage the day it landed. Now, in 2004, the powers that be at CNN have utterly failed at this! When Spirit landed they choose to run Larry King for the 3rd time that day (in the middle of the night eastern time) rather than let O'Brian spend more than 5 minutes at a time covering it. I wondered why the heck they sent a reporter at all. And on Monday they actually put an on-screen countdown timer on a MER report by Miles O'Brian to see if he could keep it to less than 20 seconds. They all seemed to think it was funny! All this thanks no doubt to the dumbing-down influence of Fox news, who do not cover mars at all as far as I can tell. It's a sort of self-fullfilling prophesy: the media is afraid to cover it because they fear the interest isn't there and by not covering it appropriately they fail to create a large scale interest.
--
Greg Crinklaw
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writes:

Yeah, but if they are like me, they have downloaded some 500 images, and if you use that as a average hit per person, then only about 14 million have actually gone to the web site. A substantial number, no doubt, but still not larger than the entire population of the planet, most of whom don't even own a computer.
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they
Unless you're planning on funding Mars exploration yourself, you'll have to face the fact that the funding NASA depends upon is political in nature. If people out there aren't "interested" how long do you think funding is going to hold out?
Having an "important announcement" end up being so mundane to those who pay the taxes for that funding is counter-productive.
I find the news interesting, but, really, doubt about Mars being a wet world "once" has long since dissipated, hasn't it? Was this really such Earth-shaking news or was it just validation of current thinking?
I applaud the awesome job these brilliant men and women are doing; I'm jealous. But sometimes they show themselves to be so out of touch with the "real world" that it's just baffles me.
-Randy

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RandyW wrote:

Mundane? Hardly. What do you want, fireworks? A laser show? This wasn't a media event, it was a science press briefing, and a science press briefing *should* be restrained. The message that they found what they were looking for is what was reported in the press and that's all that was important or necessary. It is up to the press to do with the rest what they will. I am sure that in the coming months there will be some very interesting magazine articles complete with wonderful color images.
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Actually, I was expecting something more spectacular...The hype suggested it was more. I was particularly interested in the report our local news had about mud on mars. They had some one from the Viking team showing how bright spots in the tracks had to be ice made from the water being squeezed out by the wheels as they drove along. Mud means water...water means...
chris in napa
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chris wrote:

Yeah, that was apparently this Levin fellow who appears to have found himself out in left field. He tried to steal their thunder (a petty self serving act IMHO). Any hype was due to him, not JPL, NASA, or the science team. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't hold the press conference early just because of the stuff this guy was spewing to any media outlet that would listen. On Monday AM there was a story at space.com in which the reporter suggested a big press conference "late next week". Later that morning the JPL web site announced a special press briefing on Wednesday. By the end of the day it was scheduled for Tuesday...
We have multiple instruments in orbit now that can detect water near the surface. Evidence of such has been found, but not at either of these sites. This guy stirred a lot of people up about liquid water at the surface and that he found life in his ambiguous Viking experiment. That's unfortunate.
One last thing: the news at this press briefing *was* exciting! Go find a basic textbook with a chapter on mars. It's all about questions. And we are in the process of answering those questions! Science doesn't get any more exciting than that!
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One example of real exciting science that comes to mind was the discovery of what appeared to be fossilized evidence of microbial life on a Mars meteorite. Now *that* was exciting science, not an announcement that merely confirmed something that most everyone already pretty much knew to be true.
el_encubierto
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However, the meteorite announcement had no basis in the long run. Not a very good tradeoff.
One vibe from the press conference... there was an air of "mission accomplished" about the whole thing--that this result (water on Meridiani, how much, how long, in what form, who knows?) is about as much as we can expect to get from Opportunity, & that future missions (sample return) will be needed to even answer the question of how long did the water persist. To that extent, there definitely was a political aspect to the press conference, i.e., "this result shows how we need to continue with the President's plan."
First sample return: 2014.
Joe
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But, the pictures we see don't necessarily mean mud. See: http://www.earthfiles.com/news/news.cfm?IDg5&category=Science
--
Hud Nordin < snipped-for-privacy@pobox.com> Silicon Valley

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http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/opportunity/20040302a/03-ss-03 - outcrop-mosaic-B033R1.jpg
I'm caving in! I had a look at the facies described by Gerhard Einsele of the 'Mediterranean salinity crisis'. The very thin varves in the picture above can be described as seasonal changes in evaporites that settle through the watercolumn. The loose sediment on top has a heavy caliber and may belong to the costal facies passing the site through the regression. Some of the implications obviously is that it has been a very large sea. It seems odd that Mars has not been peneplaned or lack a structuring by the watererosion - did it regain relief? The lowest parts of Mars could perhaps contain more soluble salts - would it be visible from orbit? Score for Elifritz and Jonathan.
Carsten
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