The year 2018 has been an exciting time for fans of the red planet. Elon Musk launched a Tesla convertible into space to prove that Earth-Mars travel was possible, the Mars Rover analyzed ground samples and unexpectedly found organic molecules in the soil, and after years of study, scientists announced the more-than-likely existence of at least one underwater Martian lake.
Does this Mean there is Life on Mars?
According to scientists, the answer is maybe. The organic molecules found in the soil indicate that there may have been life at one time, not necessarily a thriving Martian community but perhaps the very simplest forms of bacteria or plant life. Finding these life-based molecules was a serendipitous discovery, as the lack of atmosphere allows for the rapid decomposition of organic compounds by radiation. It is hoped in the future that drilled samples will reveal a more complex group of molecules to get a true indication if what flora or fauna may have lurked on ancient Mars.
The announcement of the underground lake is even more exciting. After years of studying orbital data from MARSIS (a radar detector designed to look for water on Mars), scientists are confident they have found an underwater lake 12 miles long and sitting below the southern polar ice cap. It is thought to be briny and very cold. However, the possibility of some type of life is very real, as on earth almost anywhere you find water, you find life of some form.
Potential Colonialization of Mars
These recent discoveries and accomplishments of astronomers have set space-exploring imaginations on fire with thought of landing on the planet and perhaps setting up Mar’s bases with the hope of the future terra-forming of the planet. Unfortunately, even with the possibility of life on Mars, it would probably not be compatible with the complexity of earth beings. For one, Mars has no magnetic field which means any atmosphere we would be able to create would leak out into space. We also must face a moral dilemma, if there is indeed life on Mars, do we have any right to interfere with its natural development? It all sounds very “Prime Directive” from Star Trek but almost all countries have signed a United Nations Outer Space Treaty to not cause harmful contamination or adverse changes on the moon and other celestial bodies. It may be more than a decade before scientists can determine if there is any life in that Martian underground lake and until then humans must be careful not to leave a damaging mark on the planet next door.
Life on Mars may never be a possibility for humans but that doesn’t mean the planet holds any less fascination. If you want to get up and personal with the 4th rock from the sun, get outside this summer and look up. Mars is the brightest it has been since 2003. You can also celebrate your love for Mars with the illuminating Mars-2 bracelet from Moonglow. This fantastic piece allows you to choose the moon phases for Mar’s fabulous dual moons, Phobos and Deimos. An amazing tribute to a new era of Mars exploration.