Our Next Chapter

Today, September 28, 2015 will forever stand as the date mankind closed a chapter in space history. All plot twists and dramatic interludes written to this point, upstaged by confirmation of seasonal water flows on Mars. Analysis of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter confirmed “seasonal dark streaks on Mars” (technically, recurring slope lineae )were the result of moving surface water.

Waxing and waning Martian streaks coincide with the seasons, actively darker and “moving” when temperatures hover between 0 – 30 degrees Fahrenheit, grinding to faded halts in colder weather. Media widely reports “flowing” water on Mars, an image that might conjure notions of rivers or freshwater pools – not so fast. Think along the line of trickles or oozing, no one knows where it comes from – theories range from melting sub-surface ice to salt crystals absorbing water vapor until reaching critical mass, bursting briefly to form muddy striations.

Martian water is so salty, the Dead Sea looks like a pristine mountain spring. Salty enough that temperatures of 21 degrees Fahrenheit (average air temperature on Earth required to form sea ice ) equate to the balmy days of Mars water “flows”.


Here are more recurring slope lineae, in this case some 100 meters long. Recently, planetary scientists detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Horowitz Crater, corroborating their original hypothesis that the streaks are formed by liquid water. Image via NASA / JPL / Univ. of Arizona.

Here are more recurring slope lineae, about 100 meters long. Image via NASA/ JPL/ Univ. of Arizona.

Flow, trickle, ooze, melt, crystallize, evaporate – I don’t mind, we have water on Mars. Our search for life demanded proof of liquid water, tomorrow we  begin the next chapter.



2 thoughts on “Our Next Chapter

  1. A new dawn indeed. I expect that the first evidence of life elsewhere will be found on … earth. We all operate on the basis tha that life is already here so we need to look elsewhere to prove that life will generate spontaneously elsewhere in the universe – and perhaps even on Mars. But if the conditions on earth are right (which we know they are), then life should be generating every moment of the day, somewhere on earth. Or perhaps every week or even millennium.

    So aside from life that generated spontaneously 4 billion years ago, there should be much younger trees of life among us too. This could be at a pre-multicellular stage which is only quite ‘recent’ in our family tree. As such it wouldn’t be obvious to spot.

    No need for Mars rovers to detect new life on earth: just some microscope in your backyard, looking for the right thing. All it is supposed to take is a few lightening strikes (plenty of those), meteorite strikes (plenty of those) and a some muddy water.

    Just imagine the possibility…

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