The Recent discovery of Liquid/flowing Water on Mars by NASA has triggered speculations of in-habitation and life on the planet Mars. The scientific community is just curious about various possibilities that can spur from this discovery. Could it indicate there’s life and if so, what kind of life? Could it mean we could use the water? Could it mean the planet is habitable?
The presence of water on Mars ( in the form of ice) has been known for quite some time. However, the presence of “flowing water” indicates that conditions on Mars allow sustenance of life under certain conditions. Although this flowing water is extremely saline, it suggests that life (already known to exist on Earth in highly saline conditions) might very well be also thriving on Mars.
The presence of drinkable water on Mars would help insure the longevity and survivability of permanent human colonies there.
What may prove even more interesting is what level of underground water in extensive acquirers might exist on Mars and what life forms may actually exist in them. There might very well be extensive and various underground lakes and rivers beneath the Martian surface. Kept liquid by a potentially warmer interior heat source.
There might be residual water on Mars now which means human occupiers can use it and even make rocket fuel out of it. This increases the chances that Mars can be occupied and put to use sometime in the future.
The scientific community is split on this. You may be familiar with the fact that Mars is much much colder than the Earth, the average temperature is about -55 degrees Celsius (-67 Fahrenheit). So why does the water not freeze?
The water found on mars is briny water, which means that it has a high amount of salt in it which prevents it from freezing. Many scientists have come out and said that this salt would prevent life. There are areas on Mars around the equator where the temperature is a bit more hospitable and some scientists suspect that if the amount of salt in the water in these regions is less, life could develop or have developed there. The emphasis is on “could”.
Supposedly, if found in abundance and at accessible depth, it might change the thinking and planning of manned Mars missions.
As sending men (or women) to mars is both very expensive (every gram sent is costly) and very long in duration, many outlined mission consider utilizing some of the local assets on Mars: by using ISRU (in situ resource utilization), some plan on saving sending some of the expensive payload and instead produce some necessities on mars – especially the consumables- the plan is to extract gases from the atmosphere or mine ice or other material from the ground: the most pressing problems are strategies to produce water (to drink) oxygen (to breathe) and using hydrogen and or oxygen to produce at least some rocket fuel for the launch from Mars or the way back to Earth.
As there are already some ideas and prototypes in place for the exact hardware to accomplish this based on the current knowledge about ice near the poles and other mappings of minerals on the surface, a reconsideration of current plans might be in order as well as a reconsideration of potential landing locations and ISRU hardware ideas and specs.
Well, there is no end to science fiction based on it and people have started exploring the possibility of a self-sustainable trip to Mars. With this discovers, the water can be checked off the list of “things to pack for the Martian trip” since we’ll find it when we arrive. If we’re clever, we can even take the surplus and get oxygen from electrical disassociation of the hydrogen and oxygen, and then use the hydrogen (and oxygen that we don’t use for breathing) for fuel to come back!