Friendlier Mars

Friendlier Mars

We still don’t know if anything has ever lived on Mars. But the evidence that something could have lived there keeps getting stronger. So does the evidence that conditions could still be okay for life today.

There’s little doubt that early Mars was much warmer and wetter than it is now — conditions that were favorable for microscopic life. And a Mars rover recently found evidence of the building blocks of life in three-billion-year-old sediments.

The Curiosity rover is poking around inside Gale Crater. The rover found that the crater was once filled with warm, salty water — some basic necessities for life.

And this year, scientists reported that the rover also found complex organic compounds — some of the building blocks of life. That doesn’t mean the compounds came from living organisms. But it adds more ingredients to the recipe for life. And it increases the odds that if life ever did exist on Mars, evidence of it might not be hard to find.

And an orbiting spacecraft recently found possible liquid water on today’s Mars. Mars Express used radar to scan the ice cap at the south pole. It found evidence of a thin layer of water under the cap. The water could provide a haven for microscopic organisms — perhaps making Mars a friendlier place for life.

The planet is about a third of the way up the southern sky at nightfall, shining like a bright orange star. It sets in the wee hours of the morning.

Script by Damond Benningfield


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