Tuesday, August 7, 2012


The amazing feat of safely landing the one-ton Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars has captured our imaginations and pushed forward the boundaries of science, promising to expand the horizons of what we know about our solar system and the universe.

After the so-called "seven minutes of terror," in which the hurtling piece of high-tech equipment entered the thin atmosphere of Mars at speeds of 13,000 miles per hour and then deploying a super-sonic parachute to slow its descent to a mere 200 miles per hour, the rocket-powered sky-crane platform holding Curiosity broke loose from the parachute and maneuvered itself into position to gently lower the two-point-five billion dollar vehicle to the surface, where it landed on its sophisticated tires and Lego-toy-like suspension system.

Here is a link to an article containing a good video showing the innovative landing maneuver, and here is another link to an excellent ten-minute video discussing Curiosity and its mission, as well as some excellent description of the Gale Crater on Mars that was selected as the site for Curiosity's exploration.

Here is a more detailed discussion about the 96-mile-wide crater and why NASA selected that site as the most promising location for investigation into the question of "whether, when, and for how long Mars might have been habitable," in the words of Mars Science Lab Deputy Project Scientist Joy Crisp (the Curiosity rover is also known as the Mars Science Lab or MSL).

The purpose of the Curiosity mission is to discover evidence that Mars could once have supported life, and the presence of water is crucial to that investigation.  Gale Crater contains intriguing evidence of ancient liquid water on Mars, as well as a massif in its center that might preserve in its layers some clues regarding where this water came from and where it might have gone.

The question of large volumes of liquid water on Mars in the ancient past is a tricky one, and one that presents numerous difficulties for conventional theories, as discussed in detail in this blog post from a year ago entitled "Let's go to Mars!"  Not only are conditions there extremely inhospitable to liquid water, but the evidence appears to suggest that even in the ancient past, Mars did have cycles of rainfall and evaporation like we have on earth, because as NASA scientist Dr. Joseph Boyce explains, "If it was atmospheric, such as the rain here on Earth, there should be a lot of tributaries flowing into the channels. There aren't. Oh, there are a few, but not nearly as many as there should be."

That previous post also points out that the massive terrain features on Mars that appear to be the product of huge flows of liquid water show signs that the water flowed through each channel only once, not for long periods.  This suggests a catastrophic event, rather than long millions of years of activity.

As it turns out, the hydroplate theory of West Point graduate and retired Air Force officer Dr. Walt Brown, which explains so many of the geologic features on our planet, also suggests a solution to the puzzling water features on Mars.  He posits that the violent eruption of trapped water beneath earth's crust which flooded the earth actually launched debris and water into space, where it became asteroids and comets, and (for the debris that encountered them) spattered the face of the moon, Mars, and even Mercury (all of which have crater patterns on one side which are markedly different from the crater patterns on the other side).

Dr. Brown discusses the evidence in our solar system which supports this explanation on this page and this page of his book, among other places.  His website contains the entire text of his book for anyone to access free of charge.  

Dr. Brown notes that the force of the catastrophic release of the water that he believes was trapped below the surface of the earth prior to this flood event would have been equivalent to 1,800 trillion one-megaton hydrogen bombs (see note 89 on this page).  This force could certainly have launched huge amounts of earth and water beyond our planet's orbit.  In fact, Dr. Brown points to evidence suggesting that most of the crust that originally lay above what are now the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas was completely blasted away (see note 92 on the same page).

While this may or may not be the explanation for the strange features on Mars and other bodies in our solar system, it should certainly be considered.

Wouldn't it be remarkable if Curiosity finds part of the Mediterranean crust on Mars?