• Question: Was there water found on Mars ? Is there any hope of life on Mars? I am very confused as I know the earth is the only planet that can support life?

    Asked by tkhan to Aggelos, Andrew, Eileen, Naomi, Shane on 22 Nov 2012. This question was also asked by theateam.
    • Photo: Andrew Jackson

      Andrew Jackson answered on 22 Nov 2012:

      hi tkah

      yes, there is water on mars. Its mostly locked up as ice in the poles and deep under ground as permafrost (a permanently frozen layer of rock, sand and mud). Some scientists also think that a lot of the geological features on mars were carved out by water that was present over more of the surface in the past. The presence of this water is what gets people very excited about the possibility of life on mars. The most likely type of life would be very simple forms such as single celled bacteria or similar.

      It would be an amazing discovery if we find evidence of current or past life on mars. It would open up the possibility to study evolution in another system and see whether the same patterns took place as they did on Earth separately. Right now, we have only one set of living organisms with a common ancestor to work with. Having a new line of Life would give us much more understanding of whether life is inevitable or not.

    • Photo: Eileen Diskin

      Eileen Diskin answered on 22 Nov 2012:

      Hello tkhan! You’re right, so far, Earth is the only planet that we know of that can support life.

      But there are a lot of scientists who think that Mars could have, or could in the future, support life (since it has an environment the closest to ours of all the planets). This is why there is a lot of money being invested in projects that are investigating the environment on Mars.

      Things like the Curiousity Rover are giving us lots of awesome information about Mars. Have you heard of it? its doing lots of exploring on Mars. Here’s a self-portrait it took: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/high-res-curiosity-portrait/. Although there are no bodies of water there now, lake lakes, rivers, and oceans – water exists in other ways, as Andrew describes in his answer. Scientists don’t know yet if this means there has previously been life on Mars…but that would be an awesome discovery!

      Now…here is something VERY EXCITING. Just yesterday, some of the scientists doing experiments with the Mars Curiosity Rover announced that they have some MAJOR NEWS, based on the results of some of these experiments with the mud (they have been doing chemical analyses on their samples). They say what they found out will make the history books! But they’re not announcing it until next month 🙁 So we have to wait…but a lot of people are guessing they’ve found evidence of some sort of life. I can’t wait to find out what their announcement is 🙂

      What I think is really cool is to think how our solar system is just one of verrrrry many in the universe. So its very likely that there are many other planets just like our Earth and like Mars that have water, and that could support life.