Can earthlings finally flee this overflowing planet and make Mars their new home? Not anytime soon, but with NASA scientists having now found evidence of flowing water on Mars, it might be a distant possibility. While this discovery doesn’t necessarily point to evidence of life on the planet, it does boost hope that its hitherto-assumed arid climate could offer refuge at least to microbes.
It’s important to note that this is not the first time that Mars has shown evidence of supporting water bodies. In an earlier missions to Mars, as early as the 1970s, images beamed back to Earth have shown a surface crossed by dried-up rivers and plains once submerged beneath lakes. Earlier this year too, NASA unveiled evidence of an ocean that might have covered half of the planet’s northern hemisphere in the distant past.
Researchers still do not know where the water on Mars originates and finding this out is now going to be the focus of their efforts. Some natural formations other than lakes could also point to the existence of water on Mars. These are either highly concentrated saline aquifers dotted beneath the surface—saturated volumes of gritty rock—or salts on the surface of Mars that absorb water from the atmosphere until they have enough to run downhill. In the excitement of prospects of life beyond Earth and the possibility of humans actually travelling to Mars in the near future, Google has even come up with a doodle on its search page with one of the ‘O’s resembling the red planet, sipping water from a glass. Here’s to life elsewhere!