Mon 28 Sep, 2015 04:42 pm
Not too many of you will necessarily find this exciting, but i'm sure it's widely known that liquid water has been found on the surface of Mars. I thought that i'd clear up some of idiocy perpetrated by journalists, the bottom feeders of scientific news. WATER HAS BEEN FOUND ON MARS! Yes, that's true--it was discovered almost two hundred years ago. The important thing is that liquid water has been found flowing on the surface of Mars. Daytime temperatures at Gale Crater (where the flowing water has been found) range wildly from about -80 degrees centigrade, to 20 degrees centigrade--in summer, in the daytime, on sunny slopes. The fact that Mars is mostly a deep freeze, which makes Antarctica and Siberia look positively balmy, is what makes this find exciting for scientists. THIS IS EVIDENCE THAT THERE COULD BE LIFE ON MARS! That was true before liquid water was found on the surface. There are micro-organisms in Antarctica which can survive these conditions, and we've long known that there are huge "lenses" of water ice in the northern hemisphere, and underground, the weight of the regolith and ice above could turn some of that ice into liquid water. So liquid water on the surface is not necessary for there to be life. Furthermore, the liquid water which has now been found on the surface is very salty, which accounts for it melting quickly on warm days, and, perhaps, not freezing again overnight. Mars didn't need liquid water on the surface for there to be a possibility of life there. The life there, if there were any, would very likely be micro-organisms. No elephants so far.
What will be more exciting is that if we do find native life on Mars, what will it look like? Will it have RNA and/or DNA? That sort of thing is a good part of what makes scientists excited over this news.