So, It Looks Like There’s Liquid Water On Mars
By now, Mars is a source of endless fascination to we denizens of this green earth. And also by now, we pretty much know one simple thing about science: that water = life.
That’s why it was/is so important to scientists to study Mars closely, the closest planet to Earth in terms of terrain, atmosphere and proximity to the sun. If life flourished here, why not on Mars? Well now, scientists may have found evidence of some present-day water on the Red Planet.
Present-day, as in, right now, not centuries or even decades ago. Scientists have long been aware that the Red Planet once was home to rivers, lakes, and oceans a few billion years ago, but now? The only water on Mars appeared to be frozen at the poles, like Earth’s ice caps. For a long time, scientists have been monitoring the possible existence of flowing, liquid water on Mars, the type of water that could give birth to life. And now, NASA thinks they’ve found it.
It started in 2011 when NASA scientists detected streaks on the surface of Mars, streaks that now have been identified as flowing briny water. These streaks appeared to get longer in the summer months, when presumably the sun melted the briny water from ice to liquid, and it flowed down the canyons and hills of the planet. In the winter months, scientists noted, the streaks faded and almost disappeared, as the briny water froze once again.
Now, it’s almost certain that there’s salty, liquid water on the planet. According to a Lujendra Ojha, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, “It’s very definitive there is some sort of liquid water.”
So now that’s all cleared up, scientists are still wondering exactly where this water is coming from, “above or below.” It could be coming from humidity condensing on the surface, or the water could be springing from some deep place within the planet itself.
I know what everyone is thinking: does this mean there’s life on Mars?
Scientists differ on their opinions, but most think not. For one, the water is salty, and at Martian temperatures, for the water to be in liquid form at all, it’s too salty to sustain life. Even microbial life couldn’t originate, scientists think.
Other scientists disagree, saying that if the water was indeed too salty, it wouldn’t be freezing in the winter. Maybe, just maybe, Martian water is in that coveted “Goldilocks” zone, the funny byword scientists use to indicate that a planet’s conditions are “just right” to potentially sustain life.
So at this point, who knows? It’s certain that we earthlings will continue to have a watchful eye on Mars, and hope to discover some funny-looking Martians.