SciTech: Mars…Not the Chocolate but the Planet (Pt. 2)

Welcome back to another article about the planet Mars! Last time, in part 1, we learned about the geographic features of Mars as well as the possibility of finding water on Mars. This time, we are going to focus on the actual discovery of the water and the possibility of finding traces of living organisms on Mars.

News Update: Liquid Water Found on Present Day Mars!

Earlier this year in July, there was finally a discovery of a 20-km wide lake that is believed to be located beneath Mar’s south polar ice cap! The liquid water is assumed to be preserved under the frozen surface of the ice cap. This is most likely possible due to the fact that the planet’s climate has cooled down over the past years, leaving most of the water left on the planet trapped in ice.

A white layer of ice in a swirl shape, on the dusty landscape of Mars
Fig.1 Lake under Mars south polar ice cap

This discovery was made by Marsis, a radar instrument that looks closely at the surface of the planet to collect data about what the surface of the planet is like. It collects data by sending out a signal towards the surface and then examining the signal that bounces back.

The Possibility of Life on Mars

The question one would ask first when thinking about Mars is: is there life on present-day Mars?

Astrobiologists agree that all forms of terrestrial life rely on water, so having discovered a body of water as big as lake gives hope that there may be some form of life on the planet. However, we must still keep in mind that Mars is dry, rocky, and has a very thin atmosphere. This causes it to have very extreme living conditions for any terrestrial life.

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Fig.2 Harsh Environment of Mars

On the other hand, another thing that gives scientists hope that there is life on Mars is the fact that Earth has received a number of fallen rocks from Mars, and some of those rocks have evidence of past life on Mars (e.g. fossils of bacteria-like organisms)

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Fig.3 Martian rock

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