Space exploration is moving ahead to prove what we’ve long suspected. After years of myth and lore on what goes on in our solar system, a quintessential find might be in the offing. We’re at the brink of finding the most compelling evidence of life in Mars which could alter the way we look at ourselves and the space around us.
Not long after the Martian Phoenix Lander successfully landed on the red planet, the instruments discovered solid ice. Water, its liquid form, had been regarded as a vital ingredient for life to thrive. This week, scientists showed us new photos of the Martian landscape’s interior: brown rocky plains, meandering riverbeds, and red dunes against a dry mysterious horizon.
In astonishing detail which delighted geologists, Mars revealed more lakes, pools, towering cliffs, stone-covered plains, sandy basins, and dendritic gulleys reminiscent of the Arizona’s Grand Canyon carved over eons by what might be the work of water torrents.
Though the landscape looks sere, the awesome footprints of once flowing rivers are there. It’s said, the presence of clay-like substances called phyllosilicates, suggests liquid water percolated into the stony planet’s surface during the Noachian period, about 4.6 billion to 3.8 billion years ago.
“The big surprise from these new results is how pervasive and long-lasting Mars’ water was, and how diverse the wet environments were,” said Scott Murchie, Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM’s) principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
“Water must have been creating minerals at depth to get the signatures we see…What does this mean for habitability?…. It was a benign, water-rich environment for a long period of time,” said John Mustard of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who worked on the study. ScienceNews/Reuters (07/16/08, Fox, M.)
At the heart of our excitement, old controversies of space exploration roil. People of religion are wondering if finding life away from earth contravenes the teachings of faith. Those concerned with the economy think whether space travel is a waste of money which could benefit the millions of starving people on earth. Nations mull on what use we have with the mineral-rich real estate in Mars that will benefit mankind (Photo Credits: NASA, FUBerlin, DLR, AP, Reuters.)
The bottom line: We’re getting the fruits of the hardwork, ingenuity, vision, and will-power of men who want to advance the frontiers of human endeavor. With new discoveries at hand, old theories must go for better understanding of the secrets which lurks in the ink blackness of space. =0=