November 11, 2019

NASA says liquid water may flow on Mars. What does it mean for life?

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linesmarsBy Miriam Kramer From Mashable

revealed on Monday the strongest evidence yet that liquid water occasionally still flows on Mars.

Planetary scientists often say that researchers should “follow the water” when looking for extraterrestrial , so finding clear data pointing to water flowing on Mars is a major discovery with possible implications for off-Earth .

But what does the new discovery really mean for the prospects of finding extinct or current Martian life?

First of all, NASA didn’t find a huge lake, ocean, river or even babbling brook flowing on Mars. What they really found are hydrated minerals on different slopes of the red planet that indicate that those areas likely go through seasonal changes. Those temperature fluctuations cause water to run down the slopes, creating dark streaks that appear in warmer months and fade in cooler.

marsInstead of a roaring stream, the streaks — called recurring slope lineae — are more like “thin layers of wet soil,” Alfred McEwen, one of the authors of the new study, said during a press conference about the find.

On Earth, if scientists “follow the water” they find at least some form of microbial in some of the most dry parts of the planet, but while that’s a good rule of thumb for our home planet, it might not work that way for this water on Mars.

The water is also far more salty than the life-filled oceans on Earth, McEwen said.

“If I were a microbe on Mars, I would probably not live near one of these RSLs [recurring slope lineae],” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate, said during the press conference.

So, could there be life?
The new discovery could mean that, if there was life on Mars when it was a warm, wet world in the ancient past, it didn’t marslines2disappear billions of years ago, but maybe more like millions.

“Experience in the driest places on Earth tells us that life is very creative at taking advantage of very small amounts of water to survive and even thrive,” Alfonso Davila, a SETI researcher unaffiliated with the new study, told Mashable via email.

“Therefore this study adds to a growing body of evidence that the Martian habitability window might have closed not billions of years ago with the disappearance of lakes, as is commonly assumed, but much more recently.”

The new finding actually gives scientists a better sense of how life could survive if it’s ever found in the current Martian environment, according to NASA.

“The existence of liquid water, even if it’s super salty, briny water, gives the possibility that if there’s life on Mars, then we have a way to describe how it might survive,” Grunsfeld said.

“We are now at a point, technologically, with over 50 years of successful spaceflight that we have the capability to go there, ask this question of, ‘Is there life on Mars?’ and answer it.”

Tread lightly
That might not be so easy, however.

The presumed presence of liquid water actually changes the status of these regions from a space exploration standpoint. Researchers don’t want Earth microbes to set up shop on Mars.

If scientists want to send a lander or rover to these recurring slope lineae, they will need to perform a special kind of sterilization that hasn’t been conducted on a Mars craft before. That kind of process would hopefully keep Earthly microbes from contaminating the red planet, chief scientist at NASA’s Mars program office Rich Zurek said in a Reddit AMA.

“Because liquid water appears to be present, these regions are considered special regions where we have to take extra precautions to prevent contamination by earth life,” Zurek said. “Our current rovers have not been sterilized to the degree needed to go to an area where liquid water may be present.”

IMAGES;
Recurring slope lineae on Mars flowing downhill. NASA/JPL/UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
Mars Recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars. IMAGE: NASA/JPL/UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

For more on this story go to: http://mashable.com/2015/09/28/life-on-mars-water/?utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher#99wUS4Qu6Pq7

Related story:
: NASA using Mars as proof of climate change

LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 27:  Radio talk show host and conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, one of the judges for the 2010 Miss America Pageant, speaks during a news conference for judges at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 27, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pageant will be held at the resort on January 30, 2010.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – JANUARY 27: Radio talk show host and conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, one of the judges for the 2010 Miss America Pageant, speaks during a news conference for judges at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 27, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pageant will be held at the resort on January 30, 2010. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

By Joe Schaeffer From Newsmax

Radio host Rush Limbaugh came down hard Monday on NASA’s claim of finding water on Mars, stating that the dubious science would be used to promote the climate change agenda here on Earth.

Limbaugh read from a U.S. News & World Report article on the finding, saying, “quote, ‘Eons ago, ancient Mars had “an extensive atmosphere,” along with “an ocean two-thirds the size of the northern hemisphere and a mile deep,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA said during a press conference on Monday.’
“Okay, now, look, how do they know that?” he said.

“How do they know that there was an ocean two-thirds the size of the northern hemisphere and that it was a mile deep? We haven’t been there. We haven’t probed a mile down on Mars.”

Limbaugh warned his audience to “realize all this stuff is not based on any data whatsoever. It’s all based on computer models predicting things.

“This guy, Mr. Green, Jim Green at NASA, may be a perfectly nice guy, but, I’m sorry, the days where I listen to some scientist come out and say, ‘Yeah, two-thirds of Mars used to be covered with water and it was a mile deep,’ because what comes next, he’s the director of planetary science at NASA, and he said, ‘After an unknown catastrophe, “Mars suffered a major climate change and lost its surface water.”‘”
Limbaugh then asserted that Green’s words slide easily into the climate change cause back on the home planet.

“Now, doesn’t that fit amazingly well with the scaremongering they are engaging in about planet Earth?” he said.

“Was it Mars’ version of Hurricane Katrina, do you think? Was there a President Bush on Mars at the time? … I’m not joking here. I’m really serious about this. An unknown catastrophe, unknown. How do we know that? If we’re gonna admit that it was an unknown catastrophe, how in the name of Sam Hill do we know what it was and that it was brought on by climate change?

“Yes siree bob, that’s what it was, folks. After an unknown catastrophe, Mars suffered a major climate change and lost its surface water.”

Limbaugh referenced a 2007 article that claimed the sun was to blame for climate change on Mars.

“In 2007, February 28, National Geographic, ‘Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says.’ This is National Geographic eight years ago saying that data that we had collected on Mars now tends to indicate that it’s the sun, and not man, that’s causing changes on earth. Do you think anybody today is gonna go back and revisit that story in light of the discovery of flowing water on Mars?
“Sorry, folks, I’m not buying any of it. The evidence suggests that you shouldn’t either….

“I think this is – word for this – not ‘criminal.’ But this is dangerously incompetent. This is the attempted manipulation of people. To me this is hideous, to try to make something like this certain without doubt. ”

Image: Rush Limbaugh: Limbaugh (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For more on this story go to: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Rush-Limbaugh-NASA-mars-water-proof-of-climate-change/2015/09/28/id/693765/#ixzz3n8mffMPb

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