NASA Confirms Liquid Water on Mars
by Caleb Rhodes on Friday, October 16th, 2015
On September 28. NASA first publically postulated the existence of liquid water on Mars after noticing dark seasonal lines forming on the surface of the planet. According to NASA’s website, using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA was able to determine that the lines were indeed caused by the flow of liquid water.
A common, yet incorrect assumption is that other celestial bodies in our solar system do not have water on them. In reality, many of them do, but, according to Science Daily, the water often takes the form of ice or water vapor. Mars, for example, has visible polar glaciers. Ice also covers the entirety of Saturn’s
Milton science teacher Jim Kernohan believes that “[Mars’s] polar caps’ shift in size,” coupled with the visible “riverbeds” on Mars surface where liquid water is known to have once flowed make the possibility of liquid water on Mars very real. This discovery has huge implications on the presence of life on Mars. Based on observations of living beings on Earth, scientists have concluded that liquid water is essential for all known life. Mr. Kernohan states that “every living thing we know of needs liquid water. Could there be life without liquid water? Sure! But let’s look for the easy things. If there is liquid water, there could be life.”
As the University of Arizona explains, water’s polarity (uneven distribution of charge) makes it an extremely powerful dissolving agent, well suited for shuttling minerals around our bodies and hosting chemical reactions. Water’s molecular structure also enables its solid form (ice) to float on its liquid form. If ice did not float, then marine ecosystems would be suffocated and extinguished by sinking ice. The presence of liquid water on Mars hints at the possibility that life exists beyond Earth.
According to data provided by The Guardian, NASA’s budget makes up only around 0.5% of that of the entire United States, down dramatically from the 4.41% heyday of 1966, as the space program geared up for the man’s first moon landing in 1969. Since those glory days of braving the final frontier, the pomp and circumstance of space travel and the captivation of society with space has noticeably declined. Though movies like the star-studded new release The Martian bring the excitement back, nothing compares to the potential for alien life, which is exactly what the discovery of liquid water on Mars alludes to.
Though scientists have made a giant leap in their study of Mars with this discovery, there is still much to discover about the Red planet and about the possibility of non-Earth life.
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