The past week has been an extremely special week for NASA as it saw the space agency announce that they have found evidence of flowing water on Mars. Following that discovery, scientists at NASA are now trying to find out what exactly presence of water on the Red Planet can tell us regarding the chances of the existence of life in it.
According to Hobart-based CSIRO scientist Paulo de Souza, this discovery shows that Mars is definitely habitable. This, however, doesn’t mean that one should expect to find complex creatures on the planet; there’s also no possibility that humans can visit the planet at will and survive there without any problem. What it means is that the extreme conditions of the Red Planet can be withstood by certain bacteria.
Dr. de Souza works with the team currently in charge of Opportunity, the Mars rover. He feels that this discovery is among the most significant discoveries made through space explorations so far. According to him, its importance to the space scientists can only be compared to the revelation that the Earth actually orbits the sun, and not the other way round.
Dr. de Souza believes that Mars might have been home to microbial life from the very beginning. Here, it must be mentioned that the single-celled organisms inhabiting our home planet Earth are extremely diverse and are capable of surviving in different kinds of extreme conditions. For instance, they can exist at the Antarctic Ocean’s bottom, close to the highly sulfuric vents which supply energy from the planet’s molten core and many such other places.
Water is one of the basic necessities for the existence of life. It allows cells to regulate themselves efficiently and carry out a series of essential functions to help life to survive. If the Red Planet didn’t have water in it, then the chances of existence of life there would have been zero. Now that the NASA scientists have confirmed that the planet is home to flowing water, the quest for extraterrestrial life on the planet has gained a substantial momentum.
Scientists have been working to find out whether life actually exists on Mars since years. They also kept on getting compelling evidence showing that the planet has the ingredients required for the existence of life. For instance, Allan Hills 84001 (allegedly a Martian meteorite) discovered at the Antarctica in 1964 was found to possess minerals that can be formed only in the presence of water.