Life on Mars?

With NASA’s recent discovery of water on Mars, evidenced by presence of percolate salts which allow water to remain in liquid state. (Photo: Creative Commons) With NASA’s recent discovery of water on Mars, evidenced by presence of percolate salts which allow water to remain in liquid state. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Kylie Vaillancourt
News Reporter

The Red Planet named after the Roman god of war is a little wet behind the ears.

NASA confirmed late last month that there’s liquid water on Mars and is now hunting for organisms.

“It’s obviously an exciting discovery, because liquid water is the most universal requirement for life anywhere in the universe whether it’s on Earth, Mars or anywhere else,” said Tatiana Paulin, an Astronomy and Astrobiology professor at Humber College.

Paulin said the information was expected, but this time NASA actually confirmed it’s water because of the percolate salts found in it. She compares percolate salts to anti-freeze because these salts that were found in the water allow the water to stay in a liquid state.

In order to consider putting life on the planet, the atmosphere needs to thicken, Paulin said. That involves increasing the greenhouse gasses to thicken the atmosphere, then having to remove the carbon dioxide and have oxygen to replace it. This is known as terraforming.

“Mars’ atmosphere is about one per cent of Earth’s atmosphere,” she said.

“You would have to melt a lot of polar ice caps there. What we would want to do there is what we’re doing here on Earth. It’d be good for Mars but not good for Earth,” said Paulin.

People wonder what it could mean for the future with new discoveries being found on Mars.

“I think it means the whole idea of putting an actual colony on there that might be sustainable, is actually a reasonable idea, no longer a pipe dream. So hopefully, this will allow for that,” said Kaius Tomaini, a first year paramedic student.

“But I have no idea about life currently on the planet. I don’t think the environment could sustain it. Yes, there’s water which is great but I don’t think the atmosphere is good enough to sustain life,” said Tomaini.

Tomaini said humankind has the technology to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.

“So there’s nothing saying we can’t put colonies there as we’re attempting to do in 2025 to see if people will survive. So I think by then it could be a possibility,” he said.

“We couldn’t live on it as it is today,” said Paulin.

“Humans have adapted to do a lot in different situations, so I’m guessing Mars is just another place for humans to live on because we’re in the technological age. But I don’t see anyone living there for a long time, like hundreds and hundreds of years from now,” said Ilhan Mohammed, a first year nursing student.

Mars still has a long way to come and many discoveries to be found.

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