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Mars H20

By Neuromancer in News
Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 05:21:32 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Due to popular demand, a rewrite of the mars post.

Recently, evidence of liquid water was discovered on Mars. Well, at 11 AM EST today, there will be a live broadcast of the press conference discussing this discovery. Presumably, they will touch on how this will affect Mars exploration and the search for life on Mars. This changes a lot. If life is found on Mars, a colony there will take completely different shape, so as not to damage the life, also, colonization will now take a much longer time, so as to be sure not to kill off an alien species. That said, this is very exciting news.

NASA NTV It was aired here at 11 AM EST.


----------------------------------
Paul Dunne's Input

The lastest report about water on Mars.

And here's the BBC's take on it.

How come the media have not latched onto this before? Here's a link from the end of '98 which reports similar findings.

There's also a collection of reports on `water on Mars'.

----------------------------------

Hattig also added
CNN- NASA unveils visual evidence of martian water (links don't work, have to manually change the URL bar)

----------------------------------
IceBalm mentioned that yahoo broadcast also had a link

----------------------------------
Of course, the broadcast is over now, but there is a lot to look at at NASA including:

This
And this on the, then upcoming, press conference

As for media, you have: This from their webcast archive
and these pretty pictures

Enjoy!,
Neuromancer

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Related Links
o Yahoo
o NASA NTV
o The lastest report about water on Mars.
o And here's the BBC's take on it.
o Here's a link from the end of '98 which reports similar findings.
o There's also a collection of reports on `water on Mars'.
o CNN
o yahoo broadcast also had a link
o NASA
o This
o And this on the, then upcoming, press conference
o This [2]
o webcast archive
o these pretty pictures
o Also by Neuromancer


Display: Sort:
Mars H20 | 41 comments (33 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hey! You left out my best bit. (none / 0) (#2)
by Paul Dunne on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 03:04:18 PM EST

One remark in this article I do take issue with:

> so as to be sure not to kill off an alien species.

Huh? what's the point of colonising Mars if we don't get to kill some bugs? That's all part of the fun! Go, Space Marines! Remember, they're only Hell Spawn, so take no prisoners!

(If a bad joke's worth making once, then it's worth making n times).
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/

You're right (none / 0) (#5)
by Neuromancer on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 03:33:16 PM EST

I shoulda mentioned the possibility of alien special clensing.

[ Parent ]
Religious implications (posted as topical) (none / 0) (#7)
by error 404 on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 03:47:01 PM EST

William of Occam voted "maybe" on this story

There are none in the general case.

No major faith says anything definitive about whether or not there is life off-planet, because the definitive statements were made during the very large part of human history when the existance of non-mythic lands other than Earth was just not seriously considered. Mars was a moving point of light, not a place.

Some specific faiths might have a problem with it, but those wallow in idolarty of their own pathetic little image of God.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Re: Off-planet life (none / 0) (#12)
by Tin-Man on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 06:27:21 PM EST

No major faith says anything definitive about whether or not there is life off-planet

<nitpick>

Isn't Christianity a major faith?

And isn't a major tenet of Christianity that there is a God in Heaven and a Devil in Hell?

And, according to Christian beliefs, isn't Heaven "above" the Earth, and Hell somehow "below" it?

Sounds like "off-planet" life to me.

</nitpick>
--
The future sure isn't what it used to be!
[ Parent ]

Re: Off-planet life (none / 0) (#20)
by Zarniwoop on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 07:36:37 PM EST

I dunno, I've always thought of heaven and hell just as other places, in another universe all together or in a 'spiritual plane', something along those lines... Never really considered them as physical places.

Eh, to each his/her own.

[ Parent ]
Re: Off-planet life (none / 0) (#22)
by nuntius on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 09:19:06 PM EST

When you consider it, God would have to be outside of the traditional physical plane. Omnipresence and Omniscience both are outside the constraints imposed by a limitation to the speed of light. Timelessness also fits in this category.

Much of the positioning of things is more traditional than Biblical. (e.g. Dante's Inferno)

An interesting thought though: God gave dominion over the earth <Bible hardref="Genesis 1:26">here</Bible>, but gives no authority over other planets (to my recollection). So what if there is life on Mars? Who's authority?

--How'd ya like my tag?

[ Parent ]
Re: Off-planet life (none / 0) (#27)
by Arkady on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 11:28:11 PM EST

The "hardref" part is neat.

How about <a meatref=bible://Genesis/1.26>this</a>?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Re: Off-planet life (none / 0) (#34)
by Zarniwoop on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 09:25:16 AM EST

An interesting thought though: God gave dominion over the earth <Bible hardref="Genesis 1:26">here</Bible>, but gives no authority over other planets (to my recollection). So what if there is life on Mars? Who's authority?

Now theres an interesting thought! Hadn't ever considered that! Though I believe we've already got one warning...

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS TO EXPLORE-- EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.

[ Parent ]

Christianity has no problem with life on other pla (none / 0) (#37)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 11:14:45 AM EST

There is only a (globally speaking) small subset of Christians that attempt to make the book of Genesis into a scientifically factual work on the origin of the planet. The vast majority of Christians take the bible (especially the Old Testament) as factually true in regards to spiritual matters, but not necessarily true in other matters.

Early Christian scholars (such as Origen circa 200 AD) went so far to say that sometimes the authors of scripture knowingly included factual errors in order to get their spiritual truths across.

Gregory of Nyssa (circa 300 AD) stated that the there are for types of events in relation to studying the Bible: events that occurred and were included in the bible, events that did not occur and were included in the bible, events that did not occur and were not included in the bible, and events that did occur and were not included in the bible.

Modern evangelical Protestantism in America has tried for the couple hundred of years to make Genesis into a science book, but such attempts are misguided. The two single largest groups of Christians (the Catholics and Orthodox) have always interpreted Genesis allegorically. For that matter so have most Jewish scholars. If you read the fourth century Jewish philospoher Philo, his exegesis of the book of Genesis sounds incredibly like an account of the big bang.

I have a friend who used to Baptist and is now agnostic. Every now and then he comes to me with another hole in the internal coherency in Christianity. For the most part, the holes he presents to me are irrelevant and only apply to the watered down, non-systematic theology he was taught in high school (not that I'm saying that all Baptist theology is watered down and non-systematic, I only know that the theology my friend was taught was and not being well acquainted with the Baptist churches, I don't know how well his congregation represents Baptists at large.)



[ Parent ]
Re: Literal interpretations of the Bible (none / 0) (#41)
by Tin-Man on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 11:24:21 AM EST

I understand that about the Old Testament. In fact, that is much the way I view many of the stories in the Old Testament.

But again in the New Testament, aren't there passages about Jesus appearing to people after his death where they either see him descend from heaven, or ascend back up to it?

And where do God and all His angels dwell? On Earth, but just invisible most of the time, or off-planet?
--
The future sure isn't what it used to be!
[ Parent ]

One more step (none / 0) (#9)
by PresJPolk on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 04:40:41 PM EST

A large supply of liquid water on Mars makes it tempting to think of a Martian colony.
How likely is it, that one could mine other raw materials on Mars, for construction? I can't help but think of Isaac Asimov's "The Martian Way." If Mars has everything one would need for life there, then humanity could finally get a long-overdue backup planet.

Re: One more step in our long history of raping th (none / 0) (#14)
by Tin-Man on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 06:43:25 PM EST

The story is about how water is an indication of possible life on Mars, and you want to rush up there and pipe the water into a Earth-sponsored colony? And then rape the other natural resources of Mars for the benefit of a people who can't figure out how to use what they already have on their own planet?

I think that when the primitive Martian life forms (assuming they exist, and that they are more primitive than we) have evolved enough to start marching around with picket signs chanting "Earthlings go home!" I'll pick up my sign, jump in line, and chant along with them.

Which planet will be the back-up planet for the Martians after we've destroyed Earth and Mars?
--
The future sure isn't what it used to be!
[ Parent ]

Re: One more step in our long history of raping th (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by PresJPolk on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 06:49:43 PM EST

Give me a break.

Rape is when a person is horribly violated by another.

A planet is a bunch of rocks and liquid. It can't be harmed, as a person can. To equate the use of natural resources with rape is absurd.

And besides, what's wrong with putting humans before Martian life?

[ Parent ]
Re: It's us against them (none / 0) (#18)
by Tin-Man on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 07:11:03 PM EST

You're right. Rape is probably too strong a word for stripping all the natural resources out of an area. I apologize for using that metaphor.

There is something wrong with putting humans before Martian life, however. It is the same thing that is wrong with putting Europeans before Native Americans, or whites before blacks, or Christians before Islamics, or any of the other countless atrocities that people have performed against others because of the mentality of being superior because of one trait or another.

And without knowing about Martian life, how do we know that when we take their water, or mine their ore, that we aren't taking from them essentials that they need to survive?

When two sentient beings are side by side, there ought to be mutual respect. The Golden Rule should apply.

That said, I will now say that when the Martians invade us, and want to claim our planet as their own, wiping out all humans, I'll gladly grab my blaster and stand beside you to wipe out every one of the little green dirtbags. When it comes to war, I will very gladly put humans before Martian life.

But not any sooner.
--
The future sure isn't what it used to be!
[ Parent ]

Re: It's us against them (none / 0) (#25)
by Marcin on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 11:16:17 PM EST

There is something wrong with putting humans before Martian life, however. It is the same thing that is wrong with putting Europeans before Native Americans, or whites before blacks, or Christians before Islamics, or any of the other countless atrocities that people have performed against others because of the mentality of being superior because of one trait or another.

I disagree that it's the same thing. The examples you've shown are all within the same species (Homo Sapiens) whereas what is being discussed here (as far as I can tell) is homo sapiens vs unintelligent algae (Now on Pay Per View! ;)).

Oh, just noticed you said "When two sentient beings are side by side,". Assuming they're not only sentient but able to communicate with us, then I agree that we shouldn't wipe 'em out for no reason. If they're just the Martian equivalent of cows then it depends on the situation (I added this paragraph later, so see below).

Also what's wrong with being selfish as a species? I mean, would you still be hesitant if it was a choice between (very hypothetical example coming!) being on Earth when an 'end of life event' happens or having to kill off a Martian race in order to terraform Mars?

I'm sure some will argue that it is 'our destiny' to die when this happens and we have 'no right' to kill off the other species to keep ours alive, but I say whatever it takes! :)

The above comments are my own and not that of my employer. ;)
M.
[ Parent ]

Re: One more step in our long history of raping th (none / 0) (#30)
by Paul Dunne on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 03:25:23 AM EST

Well, I guess we could terraform Venus... An insecticide spray of some kind should take care of the Griggoddon.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
Mars (none / 0) (#13)
by crayz on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 06:39:51 PM EST

Obviously, this is incredibly exciting news.

I've said this before, but I really want one or both(I know there's more than two, but two viable ones) of the presidential candidates to say: "If you elect me, we will send a man to Mars within 10 years."

We could do this if we wanted to. My opinion on what we should do is this(this assumes a big NASA budget increase is passed):
NASA immediately readies and launches one or more probes to investigate the water(and/or works with the Brits and their "Beagle 2"). At the same time as they're doing this, they quickly decide on a plan for a human mission(Mars Direct sounds good to me), and ASAP send the ERV over to Mars to start producing fuel. By the time the ERV is made and gets to Mars, we should know if there's life on Mars. If there is, the humans should land a good distance away from it, to be sure they don't contaminate and kill it.

Then, the crew can go out and carefully collect samples if there is life, and do their other studies if there isn't.

But I am really hoping that this will jumpstart Mars exploration. Finding extra-terrestrial life, even if it's only microscopic, would be one of the biggest discoveries ever. According to polls, there is public support for a manned Mars mission(and the polls were taken before this announcement).

It has been very popular as of late to bitch about how horrible NASA is, but I think it's now time for some politican to capitalize on the public's interest in space. Gore, Bush...I'm waiting.

Re: Flying to Mars now or later (none / 0) (#16)
by Tin-Man on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 07:00:55 PM EST

As discussed in a comment on that other site, a 1950's type of fast-track-to-Mars program may not be the best bet for prolonged space exploration.

If we make it to Mars on duct-tape and bailing wire, we've spent countless dollars on a quick hack, and yes, we've made it to Mars. But we've got to throw away all of our tricks and start over from scratch to create a program that will take us farther than Mars.

Do we really want to get there in 10 years? Or would we rather take 20 (or 30) years to develop the technology and the infrastructure to make space travel a reality for more than the few elite military pilots-turned-astronauts?
--
The future sure isn't what it used to be!
[ Parent ]

Private organizations (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by Neuromancer on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 07:15:39 PM EST

My personal belief, is that we need to pick up the slack where the governments are leaving off. A lot of people raise money, and try to do great things with them. It isn't as apparent, but a manned mars mission would do a lot of great things. People just don't think of this because they think of direct charities. Sitting on a pile of money does nothing. Giving it out does nothing to ensure the future. Taking on business ventures in addition to the status quo, however, makes more jobs, improves the economy, puts your money back into circulation, and does a lot of other good stuff. I wish that more wealthy people would look into ventures such as heavy research, and sea and space projects to do with their money. Think about it. These projects create a LOT of jobs in EVERY catagory.

respecting indigeneous lifeforms (none / 0) (#21)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 07:45:23 PM EST

Neuromancer is overly optimistic if he really thinks that original lifeforms stand any chance during a possible future colonization of Mars and the terraforming that goes with it. *If* you're gonna spend a significant part of earth's resources and manpower (yeah and womanpower, too ;-) to colonize Mars, and I hope we will see a start of this project in my lifetime, who's gonna care about a few algae, even if they're genuine Martians. By the way, this is a central theme of Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy Red / Blue / Green Mars. Books I can fully recommend, hard SciFi with it's feet firmly planted in science, engrossing to read. Bye now, Christoph chammann@extern.uni-ulm.de

Re: respecting indigeneous lifeforms (none / 0) (#23)
by fuzzylogic on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 10:13:30 PM EST

Umm... I think you're overly optimistic if you think WE can't be harmed by the lifeforms. I think it would be very irresponsible of NASA not to take precautions. Even if you take a selfish from-earth point of view, not taking precautions could expose humans to life forms that could potentially be harmful or even deadly. We have no idea what effect being exposed to such organisms will have. Hell, when we colonized the US, a big reason for the death of indians was disease. And that was just exploring across a continent. Humans have evolved to survive on earth, not mars.
But even if we knew that "algae" on mars (if such life exists) isn't harmful to us, we still have a responsibility to not destroy the planet. It seems to me everywhere humans go and anything humans do results in some destruction. Look at all the pollution we have, and the dying off of endangered species. Don't you think we should protect the lifeforms on mars, be it algae or intelligent life. I think the star trek "prime directive" isn't a bad idea. We should leave as little footprints as we can. Not to mention that the algae could provide valuable information such as how life is created and what's necessary for its creation.
-- logifuzic
[ Parent ]
Re: respecting indigeneous lifeforms (none / 0) (#24)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 10:42:48 PM EST

You reinforced my point. Thank you. Next time I'll use less convoluted sentences. Perhaps then I'll be easier to understand. FYI, I'd take a standpoint between Anne's and Sax's in the conflict depicted in Red / Blue / Green Mars. Bye now, Christoph

[ Parent ]
Re: respecting indigeneous lifeforms (none / 0) (#33)
by CodeWright on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 07:54:22 AM EST

The heck with that.

Pave it over and paint it red.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Some Thoughts (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Marcin on Thu Jun 22, 2000 at 11:24:59 PM EST

Okay, let's assume that there is some sort of 'life' in this water, like the algae that has been mentioned elsewhere. How does this affect that equation that, I think it was Carl Sagan, worked out?

What i'm refering to is the one that works out the number of planets in the known universe likely to contain life. I can't remember what the formula itself is, it's mentioned in A Brief History of Time from what I remember but that's at home and I'm at work. Anyway, you've suddenly got two planets next to each other with life. Does this mean:

  • The theory is still right, it's a statistical glitch? This is the only 'pair' of planets in the univerise with life.
  • The theory is still right, but rather than an 'even' random distribution there are 'clumps' of planets with life?
  • The theory is wrong and every solar system contains at least one planet with life.
  • Some other option I haven't thought of because I haven't been thinking about it long?

Well, i've got no idea. I like the idea of option 2.. that there is some other factor that we're not yet aware of that influences whether there is life or not.

Anyway, my rambling is done.
M.

Fred Hoyle's old idea... (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 01:38:03 AM EST

An examination of the fossil record shows one very interesting point about the origin of life here on Earth - it appeared shortly after the crust solifified from the molten state while there was still a lot of debris falling out of the sky.

In the 1950's, this lead the physicist and sometimes sci-fi writer Fred Hoyle to hypothesise that simple life may have originated somewhere else in the solar system and then caught a ride else where ( including here to Earth ) on comets or meteorites.

If this is the case, then even if there is life on Mars, there is no reason to belive that it might be radically different from us, or that it represents a seperate incidence of independent biogenesis. Likewise if we find life elsewhere in the solar system ( such as Europa ).

In this respect, it is premature to assume to much about any such hypothetical lifeforms until a) we know they actually exist and b) we have secured specimens for careful examination.

If nothing else, in the case of Mars, we would also need to establish the prior existence of the alleged Martians within the local fossil record. Otherwise, we would be unable to tell if they were really local or just some terrestrial bugs that hitched a lift to Mars back in 1976 on the viking landers.

You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.



Re: Fred Hoyle's old idea... (none / 0) (#29)
by Paul Dunne on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 03:17:10 AM EST

The trouble with this theory is, it doesn't get us any farther along with understanding how life starts. So the first primitive life forms came from the sky? Ok. Then where did they develop? As I remember it, Hoyle is saying they came from debris formed from the demise of another planet. So where did the life on that planet come from? He just pushes the question one level back. Not a productive way of finding things out.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]

Re: Fred Hoyle's old idea... (none / 0) (#31)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 05:21:50 AM EST

The trouble with this theory is, it doesn't get us any farther along with understanding how life starts.

It's true enough that Hoyle's theory leaves a great deal to be desired in this respect and I'm certainly not suggesting that anyone should take it too seriously.

However, it does suggest that once life comes into existance on one planet/giant moon in a star system that it is quite possible that it would propagate to every other viable habitate within that system.

So while Hoyle's original theory isn't taken very seriously anymore, it does provide a plausible reason as to why we would not be too suprised to find life elsewhere here in the solar system ( provided that we can find places where life as we know it can conceivably exist ).

In this respect, we would need to collect as much data as possible before jumping to conclusions.

For example, if it turns out that there is life on both Mars and Europa, then a careful examination of their molecular chemistry would give us some very definate indications as to whether or not they represented seperate instances of the biogenesis of life ( because of radical differences between them ) or if they were simply long lost cousins ( whose ancestors had hitch-hiked around the solar system a long time ago ).

If life exists elsewhere in the solar system and the evidence indicates the hitch-hiker scenario, then that does tend to leave us with a very sticky question - on which platetoidal body did it first come into existence on?

I'll admit, as questions of this type go, it's nasty in that it gives us more questions than answers.

I'm still optimistic though in that I tend to think that the discovery of life elsewhere in the solar system would give us important clues on the biogenesis of life. It's just that in the meantime, I don't think that we should be too quick to jump to conclusions until we have more data to work with.

You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm going to your hampster.



[ Parent ]

Nice Picture (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by pwhysall on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 05:29:48 AM EST

There's a nice picture of some gullies which may be evidence of flowing water on Mars at the Astronomy Picture Of The Day for today, 23 June 2000.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown

manifest destiny (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 10:08:00 AM EST

If life is found on Mars, a colony there will take completely different shape, so as not to damage the life, also, colonization will now take a much longer time, so as to be sure not to kill off an alien species.

nah, the army will just send them blankets with smallpox

Martian Endangered Species Act? I think NOT! (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by jabber on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 10:32:23 AM EST

We, as a species, have NEVER let another species (or even sub-groups of our own) stand in the way of our expansion and "Manifest Destiny". Will we tread lightly on Mars, just because little green men turned out to be little green moss?? I doubt it. We WILL go there to study it, and we will subsequently kill it once our interests begin to REQUIRE Mars to be made more suitable to ourselves.

Water on Mars is great news.
Life on Mars is great news as well - I'd like to see what the impact of THAT ONE will be on the Earth's religious systems. Not knowing if we are alone is one thing; knowing EITHER WAY is HUGE.
Going to Mars to drink the water and feed the unidentified lifeforms is a good idea.
Getting all "Prime Directive" about it is BULL.

I can see next year's fad already... Martian "Pet Rocks" fuzzy with Lichen - selling for $500 per pebble.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Re: Martian Endangered Species Act? I think NOT! (none / 0) (#39)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jun 26, 2000 at 09:43:06 PM EST

Re your comment on the religious consequences of possible martian life: Christianity has no problem with that or life spread throughout the universe. Don't consider everyone who believes narrow-minded. Christoph Hammann chammann@visto.com

[ Parent ]
Re: Martian Endangered Species Act? I think NOT! (none / 0) (#40)
by jabber on Fri Jul 07, 2000 at 09:24:06 AM EST

The point of consequences is an important one.
I certainly don't think most people are narrow-minded, and I'm sorry if it came across as such. It's just that KNOWING for a fact that we are not alone, or KNOWING for a fact that we are not, are both much more profound realizations than the current state of MAYBE.

The whole idea of "God's chosen people" would be deeply affected by alien contact - and we'd likely see a repeat of all the human tragedy that has taken place in the name of faith. I'm sorry, but you HAVE to agree... Either some of us would try to convert them, or they would try to convert us.

Knowing that we are alone might be even more dramatic (though likely less violent) in that the idea of Manifest Destiny would come back with a vengence. The Universe would be ours for the taking. I personally believe that this is the attitude we should take UNTIL we learn otherwise - that we are in fact NOT alone. At which point, I hope we remember that we are not all that special after all.

Just my opinion, of course. I know better than to try to convince others of the correctness of my beliefs. If we can get along reasonably well while speaking different languages, we should be able to get along reasonably well while looking at God from a slightly different angle.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Well at least the satellites won't crash into soli (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 23, 2000 at 02:07:04 PM EST

Think of it. In this new era of drive-by space program development we can cut out all of the complex landing leg-retro systems and just give them parachutes and big inflatable cushions.

Mars H20 | 41 comments (33 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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