Life on Mars?

You might be wondering exactly what this image is. It's a colorized representation of the Martian south pole, taken by the Mars Express spacecraft in orbit. Scientists have been able to confirm that there is enough pure water ice at both the south and north pole on Mars that if it were all melted would put the entire planet under 36 feet of water. Staggering, isn't it? The deeper red end of the spectrum represents deeper water readings. That big black circle is apparently a spot they didn't survey.

So that raises an interesting question. Does this mean there is life on Mars? It's certainly not impossible. For life as we know it to exist requires water. Even extremely cold water, or ice, is capable of sustaining life of some sort. If you take a look at Antarctica here on Earth, you'll find a surprising number of organisms living there. They may be primitive, but they're alive. The same sort of thing is quite possibly living in the polar caps on Mars. To date I don't think NASA has any probes or other ground equipment near the poles but it certainly looks like that's where we should start looking.

This also leads into another long range goal. Colonization of Mars. Doing so would have been prohibitively expensive without some kind of planetary water source. Well, now we've found one. That makes the task that much easier. Certainly still difficult and dangerous but if you build a Martian base close enough to the poles it becomes feasible to build pipelines and other equipment necessary to melt off some of this pure water ice and use it to sustain a human colony. Probably not a very big one, but you have to start somewhere. Though for ultra-long range plans there isn't enough water at the poles to leverage for terraforming. Assuming we can avoid blowing ourselves up first.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/ASI/ESA/University of Rome/MOLA Science
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Mar 17, 2007 3:09 pm by Samson in: | 1 comment(s) [Closed]
You know, while the image there brings to mind one of those antidrug campaign TV ads.. "This is your brain on Mars ..." ..what you're saying certainly seems very reasonable. But it also conjures thoughts and imagery from the movie Total Recall which starred that big brute who's now your state's governer. ;)

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