Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Habitable Space on Mars? Oh Really?

NASA announced exciting news today: Its Curiosity rover, in testing Martian clay for chemical composition, determined that Mars was once home to conditions that could have supported life. 

Per CNN: 

We have found a habitable environment that is so benign, and supportive of live, that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it. (Bonus: Photo 11 shows part of a feature scientists are calling the Snake River. Awesome.) 

Curiosity is drilling in a place on Mars called Yellowknife Bay, inside enormous Gale Crater, that could have been a lake when liquid water was present on the planet’s surface. The clay, Curiosity discovered, was formed in water with a fairly neutral pH, meaning it could have been hospitable to life similar to that found on Earth.

So pardon me if I say this: 


I’m not surprised at all at this discovery. In fact, I was expecting it. Given the advancing number and complexity of probes and rovers on Mars, frankly a discovery like this was only a matter of time. There’s plenty of geological evidence that some kind of liquid once flowed on Mars’ surface, so to discover it was potable water, at least in one spot, is not a surprise at all. 

Don’t get me wrong: That this has been verified is exciting news. Unexpected? Absolutely not.

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