• Question: Is it possible to explode a bomb on Mars to reveal water that is below the surface (if there is any)?

    Asked by bgoldste to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 22 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Hmmmm….I’m not sure about this one – I would just be guessing. I don’ think there’s enough water on Mars that you would have a huge underground reservoir though – you woud just be looking at tiny amounts so I’m not sure a bomb would help really. Anybody else got any suggestions??

    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Hi Bgoldste,
      The way they check for water now is to dig or scrape up little samples and test them. A bomb would throw lots of stuff into the air, but I don’t know that that would make it any easier to check for water. The trouble is that what we are looking for won’t be a big ocean that you can see with a telescope, it will be small amounts trapped in bubbles and ice crystals.

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      I think they would look for water on mars by taking core samples, much like you take a core out of an apple, or a soil sample from your garden. They’d keep it frozen and then bring it back to a lab to analyse it. They’d look at the elemental composition, look for the compound and molecule compostion as well as many other technical experiments, which me as a non space scientist am not that familar with…

      I dont think blowing mars up will help.. as amy says its not likely yo find a massive underground reservoir.. buy small crystals or any form of water would be a sign that life could have and may be able to live on mars… not traditional life but maybe some form of extreme bacteria or plants??

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hi bgoldste. It is possible to explode a bomb, but entirely unnecessary and probably detrimental to your experiments!! Most water on Mars will be ice – little crystals of ice just below the surface in fact. There is also some evidence that water might be liquid just below the surface, at least occasionally – check it out here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/news/mgs-20061206.html

      We don’t have any conclusive evidence of water further below the surface so a bomb is not necessary. What is really concerning about the bombing mars technique for exploration is planetary protection. People have actually proposed using bombs on Mars in the past (it seems logical for many reasons!) but we actually have laws for planetary protection. Mostly these are in place to protect any life that might be living on another world. If Mars does have alien microbes living in its soil, a bomb would be a very bad thing. Not only would it destroy your test sample, but it could be extremely detrimental to the martian ecosystem if it exists. So we try to avoid bombs in planetary exploration as much as possible. A drill would be better in that case. =)