Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Article excerpt

How water can flow in Mars's colder climate

Regarding Peter Spotts's Dec. 7 article, "Mars photo evidence shows recently running water": So now there's flowing water on Mars, huh? And recently at that! Come on. In order for water to flow anywhere, it cannot be frozen, and it has to be under some kind of atmospheric pressure. The average temperature of Mars is roughly equivalent to the temperature in Antarctica on a bad day. And there is virtually no atmosphere on Mars.

Whether or not water has flowed on Mars, at a time when our budget is dangerously bloated and our national debt is nearly out of control, NASA seems to feel the need to convince congressmen and others that it is still relevant to the needs of the US. Enough already. Like SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), it's time for NASA to go private and spare us the tax burden of their sci-fi fantasies. Robert Bezold Pearl City, Hawaii

Peter Spotts responds: Mars has a chilly average temperature at the surface of -64 degrees F., NASA says. But the average masks wide swings - from a balmy 80 degrees F. near the equator in the Martian summer to -199 degrees F. at the poles in winter. And Mars has a thin atmosphere, mostly carbon dioxide. Winds can reach speeds of up to 80 miles an hour and trigger local and regional dust storms - readily seen through telescopes on Earth. Water would have no problem flowing downhill when it's 80 degrees outside. And when water is underground, and thus probably under pressure, it can still flow for some distance downhill in subzero temperatures before it freezes.

Message is as important as experience

I understand and appreciate the desire to be realistic about Sen. Barack Obama in your Dec. 15 editorial, "Taking 'Obama-mania' in stride." But given the mess the US is now in, it's clear that a long political track record and substantial legislative experience do not guarantee qualified leadership.

What many people are looking for now are leaders who are open, inclusive, farsighted, and who hold a well-educated world-view. …

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