Scientists now more certain that conditions for life once existed on Mars
Study of Mars has important implications for humanity.
Scientists are yet to find evidence that life does exist, or once existed on Mars, but they are becoming more convinced that the conditions for life did exist at one time. Of course, there is a great chasm between conditions favorable for life and life itself, but the mounting evidence is encouraging scientists to look harder for life the on Red Planet.
Scientists believe with certainty that water once flowed on Mars. New evidence suggests it may have been perfect for life.
That water once flowed on Mars isn't a subject for debate. The valleys and channels on Mars clearly demonstrate that water did, at one time, flow freely on the planet's surface. However, since those days, likely billions of years ago, the water has either evaporated into space, or been frozen underground.
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At no place on Mars does water still flow on the surface, although the existence of some surface water is still likely at the fringes of the Martian polar ice caps.
More recent studies performed by NASA's Opportunity Rover also reveal that the water which flowed on Mars had a nearly neutral pH, which means it was all the better for life.
Findings suggest that this life-friendly fresh water flowed on Mars for billions of years, plenty of time for something to develop and evolve.
In fact, some scientists have suggested that life may have started on Mars and spread to Earth by means of a ejected Martian meteorite impact. This is part of a theory known as "panspermia" whereby the universe is seeded with life by meteorites that carry it through space.
There is no evidence for this however, and it remains within the realm of scientific speculation. Furthermore, there remains no evidence that life ever evolved on Mars, even in microbial form.
Yet it remains premature to dismiss such possibilities since scientists have sampled only the tiniest fraction of the Martian surface.
Studies show that the farther back in geologic time they look, the better conditions were for life on Mars. This means that any continued search for life on the Red Planet should focus on the oldest sites that can be reached.
It is also very likely that life will soon appear on Mars, possible within the next few decades. Humans are planning to visit the planet and possibly establish a colony there. Several international organizations, as well as NASA, have their own long-term plans to put people on Mars for research and to work on developing a long-term habitat there.
Humanity's future may well depend on this research. The Earth is finite in its resources and in how many people can comfortably reside on its surface. The planet itself also has a limited period of habitability as the Sun will eventually increase its energy output and temperatures on Earth will become too hot to permit life. The long-term survival of humanity depends on our ability to leave Earth and colonize other worlds.
Mars research could also teach us how to live more sustainably on Earth, something we could all benefit from.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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